Whether it’s breaking your fast with dates at Iftar, or taking a chapati at Suhoor, food must strengthen and nourish you during Ramadan, not make you sick and weak. But if you don’t wash hands with soap before eating, then you are encouraging the spread of infections such as diarrhoea and flu.
Lifebuoy’s Director of Global Research, Dr Vibhav R Sanzgiri, explains why it pays to wash hands before feasting this Ramadan, “Hands can become dirty very quickly as we go through our daily activities. Washing hands with soap before eating at Iftar and Suhoor helps ensure that you don’t pass invisible germs into your mouth that might make you sick. Even if you are generally healthy, Ramadan can take its toll on your body. Going without food for long periods of time can interfere with your metabolism, causing headaches and dehydration, and can weaken your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to common illnesses.“
As well as washing hands with soap, be careful of having street food, which can be contaminated and have poor hygiene. The State Health Department of Malaysia said 40% of food in Ramadan bazaars are contaminated with bacteria that causes food poisoning*. So not only families, but also restaurants and their workers should pay attention to hygiene conditions, and wash hands with soap regularly during Ramadan and through the whole year so that they can keep their customers in good health and help prevent the spread of diseases.
THREE INFECTIONS TO WATCH OUT FOR THIS RAMADAN:
Diarrhoea: spread through dirty hands, contaminated food/water, and direct contact with faecal matter.
Symptoms: dehydration, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss, vomiting, frequent runny or watery bowel movements.
Food poisoning: it’s exactly that – poisoning from the consumption of contaminated food; or from the bacteria, viruses and parasites that infect food. Often caused by food being left out for long periods of time.
Symptoms: Diarrhoea – sometimes with blood in it; fever, stomach cramps; vomiting.
Flu: a viral infection that affects your nose, throat and – more rarely – your lungs. It’s extremely contagious and spreads from person to person through sharing drinks and cutlery, direct contact, and coughing and sneezing. (Flu germs don’t care if they’re spreading from touch or through the air, just as long as they hit!).
Symptoms: dry cough, muscle and joint pain, fever, runny nose, sore throat, headache.