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Consult doctor if noticing health issues while fasting, HMC dietician tells elderly

Consult doctor if noticing health issues 
while fasting, HMC dietician tells elderly

Tribune News Network
People aged over 65 who are fasting this Holy Month of Ramadan, should speak with their doctors if they notice any warning signs of illness, Dalia Elissawi, a clinical dietitian at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Home Health Care Service, has said. She said most elderly individuals who have no major health problems can fast without any adverse health impacts, but added that fasting should be avoided, or at least carefully supervised, by those who have chronic or geriatric illnesses.
“Elderly individuals with health problems are generally not able to fast. Frail and weak elderly patients who fast can place themselves at increased risk for complications; therefore, it’s important they speak with their doctor if they experience any signs of illness. We generally advise elderly patients to talk to their doctor before Ramadan, but if they have begun fasting it’s important they seek medical advice if they experience any signs of poor health. In some cases their doctor may recommend an alternative treatment plan that will allow them to continue the fast,” said Elissawi.
“Elderly patients who have multiple chronic illnesses and are being treated with medications are especially vulnerable to complications and must consult their doctor if they are fasting and experiencing signs of poor health.”
She said the suhour meal is particularly important for elderly patients who fast and recommended eating smaller portions of high-calorie, slow-digesting foods. “Aging influences people’s eating habits and dietary choices. Tooth loss, health conditions and general weakness may result in chewing problems and lead to reduced food intake and an unbalanced diet. When hosting elderly individuals for Ramadan meals, the goal should be serving dishes that contain the right amount of nutritious and healthy calories without overloading their plate. We recommend breaking the fast with milk and dates, followed by soup and foods high in fibre, such as oatmeal, vegetables, fruits, and beans. Lean meat, skinless poultry, and fish are also great options,” said Elissawi.
Smaller portions of higher calorie nutrient-dense foods will help ensure the individual is able to maintain their strength while preventing bloating, indigestion and an upset stomach. She recommended limiting fast-digesting carbohydrates and foods that are high in sugar and fat, such as cakes and sweets.
She also stressed the importance of being aware of the signs of dehydration. “Elderly individuals are at an increased risk for dehydration. It’s important they drink sufficient amounts of liquids, ideally water, and limit stimulants such as coffee, tea, and soft drinks. Fruits and vegetables, broth-based soups and smoothies can also be an excellent source of hydration. It’s wise to avoid pickled foods, and foods high in salt, which can lead to dehydration,” she said.
Elissawi also recommended light exercises during the day, saying even simple movements that flex the joints and stretch the body can be helpful. Getting sufficient amounts of rest and sleep is also very important.
“While it’s important to get adequate rest, sleeping immediately after suhour and iftar meals should be avoided as this will impact digestion. Try to help make it easy for your loved ones to share their meals with family or friends as the mental and emotional benefits of socialising during meals can be tremendous for the elderly, especially for those who are sometimes isolated,” said Elissawi.