Food tips for a healthy Haj


Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — “Food can be the greatest form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison,” said Ann Wigmore, a holistic health practitioner.

If you are blessed to be a pilgrim going for Haj this year, what you eat is very important to help you stay healthy during your pilgrimage. The extreme heat and intense physical exertion can take its toll on your body, so you need to be sure to keep hydrated.

Start taking a daily vitamin C supplement of 500 mg and continue taking it throughout your pilgrimage. Taking vitamin C can help boost your immune system. Although vitamin C cannot stop you from catching the cold or flu, it can reduce the severity and duration of the cold or flu. Coming down with the flu is practically a matter-of-fact during or after Haj; try to get some rest whenever possible and drink plenty of fluids.

Increase your consumption of fruits, which contain a high amount of vitamin C and water, such as oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, mangoes, strawberries, and peaches. When you eat fruits like apples, pears, and peaches, eat them with the peel so that you obtain enough fiber.

A common health complaint among pilgrims is constipation. By eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and drinking two liters of water a day, you can help relieve constipation. If you do develop this problem, soak two dried fig in water overnight, and drink the water in the morning. Also, try eating a couple prunes and drinking a glass of water with it.

If you have the option to choose between white and brown bread, always choose brown bread because it is higher in fiber.

During meals, eat plenty of vegetables, as they provide needed vitamins and minerals. Eat both fresh, raw salads, and cooked vegetable dishes. Be wary of salads that contain mayonnaise as it can spoil quickly due to the heat.

Vegetables provide carbohydrates needed for energy and walking long distances, and they are light and easy to digest and will not slow you down and make you feel heavy and sluggish.

Any chicken or meats you eat should be very well cooked. If the chicken is still pink in color, avoid it because salmonella infection is the most common form of food poisoning that spreads among pilgrims during Haj.

Avoid buying food from street vendors because their hygiene is questionable. Pack some healthy snacks with you for when you get hungry, such as dates, nuts, granola bars, whole grain biscuits, dried apricots, and figs.

Be sure to pack any regular medications that you are currently taking and stick to your normal schedule for your medications.