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Divine Delicacies

Divine Delicacies

The Noble Quran mentions special foods that research has shown to be loaded with nutrients as well as have numerous medicinal properties. Here are few of the most common ones with their appearance in the Quran and their health benefits.

Raw, unfiltered honey –

 

Your Lord revealed to the bees: “Build dwellings in the mountains and the trees, and also in the structures which men erect. Then eat from every kind of fruit and travel the paths of your Lord, which have been made easy for you to follow.” From inside them comes a drink of varying colours, containing healing for mankind. There is certainly a Sign in that for people who reflect. (Qur’an, 16:69)

Honey is considered a miracle food and is considered a ‘healing for men” as stated in the verses above. Pure honey has antimicrobial properties, acts as a prebiotic and also has the capacity to serve as a natural food preservative. Honey also contains a good portion of antioxidants and studies have found that consumption of buckwheat honey increased antioxidant levels in subjects. While honey is a high calorie food (one tablespoon of honey has 64 calories while white sugar has 48 calories), studies have ironically shown that participants showed no weight gain in the month they were consuming honey. Some participants also claimed that eating honey for breakfast actually made them feel full and satisfied. The reason behind this is that honey is low to medium GI which means that it takes longer to digest than table sugar and provides more sustained energy. Therefore, replacing white sugar with pure honey which has a lot more nutrients to offer, is a good idea.

All of the combined properties of honey can lead to a healthy immune system, providing protection from colds and flus, as well and boosting resistance to seasonal allergies. The Prophet’s sunnah was to mix a small amount of honey with water, which he drank on an empty stomach every morning.

Dates

Dates contain a unique blend of glucose and fructose consist of more than 50% sugar. They are extremely nourishing, for they are high in calories, and can be digested easily and quickly. Dates also have a very high potassium content (about 64% more than bananas). They have a nutrient called beta-D-glucan which is a soluble fiber that can help you feel fuller for longer.

Dates which grow in dry soil in warm climates are perfect nutrition powerhouses. They contain about 2.2% protein, as well as vitamins A, B1, and B2, calcium, iron, manganese, copper and are good sources of iron and potassium.

Dates are also high in GI, which means that they are broken down and released into the blood stream very quickly, making them the ideal foods with which to break fast. This action as well as their high nutrition status ensures that they are great foods to eat during labour or any other mentally and physically exhausting event. It makes perfect sense then that Maryam who was in labour was provided with dates for nourishment.

A voice called out to her from under her: “Do not grieve! Your Lord has placed a small stream at your feet. Shake the trunk of the palm toward you, and fresh, ripe dates will drop down to you. Eat and drink and delight your eyes …” Surah Maryam: 24-26

Olives

 

 

Olives contain  linoleic acid which is especially useful for breast-feeding mothers. Any deficiency in this acid slows a child’s development and contributes to some skin diseases.

Olive oil is an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids that are an important component of any heart healthy diet. Monounsaturated fats are protective against coronary artery disease by reducing the level of LDL cholesterol while increasing the level of beneficial cholesterol HDL in the blood.

He sends down water from the sky. From it you drink, and from it come the shrubs among which you graze your herds. By it He makes crops grow for you, as well as olives and dates and grapes and fruit of every kind. There is certainly a Sign in that for people who reflect. Surat An-Nahl: 10-11

Figs

Figs are not only delicious, but are loaded with potassium and are rich in key minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium. They are also a great source of fiber and being very low in calories they are great foods for weight loss.

Potassium is an essential mineral your body needs to regulate your blood pressure. Studies suggest that getting ample amounts of it can help keep blood pressure under control as well as fend off stroke and heart disease.

By the fig, and the olive, by Mount Sinai, and by this city of security (Makkah), Verily, we created man of the best stature, then We reduced him to the lowest of the low, save those who believe and do righteous deeds, then they shall have a reward without end. Then what causes you to deny the Recompense (i.e. Day of Resurrection)? Is not Allah the Best of judges? (Surah At – Tin)

 

And as a final note, while all of the above are highly nutritious choice, don’t forget that they need to be consumed in moderation. Consuming large amounts of the above will lead to excessive calorie consumption. However, do add consider adding them to your diet if you haven’t already. Adding really nutritious, high fiber foods to your diet means that you are less likely to choose other unhealthy snacks. The Quran states “eat of the good and wholesome things that We have provided for your sustenance, but indulge in no excess therein.”  And there you have it, the golden rule for healthy living.

 References

  • The Holy Quran
  • Beauties for Life in the Quran by Harun Yahya
  • European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 2002, 56: 114-120.
    Archives of Internal Medicine 1998; 158: 1181-1187.
  • Keys A, Menotti A, Karvonen MJ et al., “The diet and 15-year death rate in the Seven Countries Study,” Am J Epidemiol 124: 903-915 (1986); Willett WC, “Diet and coronary heart disease,”
  • Monographs in Epidemiology and Biostatistics 15: 341-379 (1990); World Health Organization, “Diet, nutrition, and the prevention of chronic diseases,” Report of a WHO Study Group. WHO Technical Report Series 797, Geneva 1990
  • Dr. Joe A. Vinson, “The Functional Food Properties of Figs,” Cereal Foods World, February 1999, vol. 44, no. 2
  • “Honey A Source of Antioxidants,” Journal of Apicultural Research, 1998, 37:221-225, http://www.nutritionfarm.com/health_news/1998/antioxidants4.htm; Janet Raloff, “The Color of Honey,” www.sciencenews.org/sn_arc98/9_12_98/Bob1.htm.
  • “Honey As Medicine—Australia Produces A World’s First!,” San Diego Earth Times, January 2000, http://www.sdearthtimes.com/et0100/et0100s17.html


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Your Guide to Choosing Halal Medicine – Guest Post

Every Muslim understands that there are certain substances that are allowed by Allah (swt) to consume, and there are those that are forbidden. This also applies to substances consumed as medicine. There are a variety of ingredients in medicines, or medicines themselves, that may be considered unlawful in normal circumstances such as gelatine, alcoholic preserves, and those that are porcine-derived. The matter is clearly one that can be quite controversial.


More recently, the Halal quality of medicines have been quite popular topics of discussion. This follows the development of the concept of “Halal certification” in some parts of the world such as Sydney, where medicine ingredients have been analysed by a certifying board and deemed appropriate for consumption. This differs from the process of Halal food certification, as the manufacturing processes are not taken into account. For more on this, go to http://www.halalmedicines.com.au/index.html
Owing to the nature of my profession in the medicines/pharmacy field at the moment, I have been invited by the dear author of this blog to say a few words regarding Halal medicines. It is important for every patient to be actively involved in all aspects of their healthcare including the foods they eat And the medications they take. This will allow for a better understanding of options out there and empowerment in looking after yourself.
I will endeavour not to get too stuck into the religious controversy of the matter, as I understand that each school of thought has their own justification for their stance and I respect their knowledge and decisions. Allah (swt) knows best.

MAIN SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT

Many scholars have taken Quranic verses and incidences of Sunnah into account to make their conclusions. To summarise:
• The medicine must be essential to the life of the Muslim
• No other permissible substitutes are at all available
• The medicine is known to be effective
• Some say the treatment must be guided by an expert Muslim doctor
(This list is not intended to cover the full extent of the issue, and the reader is advised to look into this further).

PRACTICAL TIPS FOR YOUR MEDICINES

Gelatine

In the efforts to avoid (un-halal) gelatine, it is useful to know that many medicines come in a variety of forms, including tablets, powders and liquids. Often gelatine capsules are not the only option so it is encouraged to enquire about this.
Also, certain brands do endeavour to use non-animal sources of gelatine in order to make their products suitable to vegetarians (often called vege-caps).
One other way to avoid consuming gelatine capsules is to ask your doctor or pharmacist whether you can open the capsule. Often the capsule is just a unit for the medicine to be stored in, and has no value in therapy. Some capsules can be opened to reveal granules inside that contain the active components of your medicine, which can sometimes be sprinkled onto food or mixed in small amounts of liquid to consume. However, I do stress that not all capsules are suitable for opening and it is essential to check with you healthcare professional before you tamper with the way the medicine is taken.

Animal-derived medicines
There are a number of medicines or ingredients that are porcine-derived or pig based, or derived from other animals. Over recent years, the majority of these have been replaced by synthetic agents using more advanced development methods. Today, the main categories of medicines may that contain these are some insulins, pancreatic enzymes, and blood thinners. How would you know if your medicine contains animal-derived ingredients?
• Contact the manufacturer’s medicines information department
• The words ‘porcine’ (pig) or ‘bovine’ (cattle) in the name or ingredients
• Patient information leaflet
• Seeking the advice from your healthcare provider

Alcoholic ingredients
Alcohol is commonly used as a sterile vehicle in which medicines can be kept in liquid form. It has been used for centuries in medications as it is inexpensive and easy to access. However, in more recent times, many medicine brands are recognising the market that prefers alcohol-free products. This is why many products now come in an alcohol- or ethanol- free version, and it is a good idea to look into this when purchasing liquid medicines, most commonly used in children or as cough syrups.
Another option is to enquire as to whether your liquid medicine comes in a tablet or capsule form, that you may be able to dissolve or disperse in water or juice (if appropriate) if you require a liquid product to take.

References:
http://www.shariahprogram.ca/eat-halal-foods/using-unlawful-medication.shtml
Mynors G et. al (2004) Informed choice in medicine taking: Drugs of Porcine Origin and their Clinical Alternatives: An Introductory Guide. Accessed July 2012 at: http://www.keele.ac.uk

By Azmena Hussain, Graduate Pharmacist


1 Comment >

Being a muslim in a non-muslim majority country, I have always had to scrutinize ingredients at the back of food products to determine whether they are halal or not. If not approached in the right way, halal shopping can become a confusing process and it is easy to give up if you don’t understand where or who to check with.

One thing I did sometime last year was email Halal helpline in order to clarify some issues. Firstly, I found out that Australia had stopped producing emulsifiers since 2006 and that all emulsifiers used in Australian made products are being imported from Malaysia (and have been certified as halal by the Malaysian government).

In other words, if you are holding an Australian Made product, you can be sure that the emulsifiers used in the product are halal. This still means that you need to check products that are not made in Australia and also scan for other haram ingredients like gelatine and alcohol.

Halal Helpline was initiated by the Halal Certification Authority Australia (HCAA) which is currently one of the largest certifiers in Australia, along with Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) and few others.

While products that contain only halal or some haram ingredients can be obvious, things get confusing if there are many ‘masbooh‘ or doubtful/questionable ingredients. In cases like that, it is best to call up the number on the packaging and check with the company’s customer service directly. Good questions to ask are “does this  product have halal certification?” or “is this particular additive plant  or animal based” or “is this product suitable for vegetarians?”.

To brush up on the various haram and masbooh ingredients you need to watch out for, download this brochure by AFIC http://www.afic.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/what-is-halal.pdf.

Also, here is a rather old but reasonably comprehensive Halal product guide from that lists many halal products.   http://www.international.utas.edu.au/student-support/australian-culture-customs/documents/HalalFoodGuide.pdf

To download a comprehensive guide on halal establishments in NSW, click here –> http://www.msda.org.au/web_images/halal%20restaurants.pdf. As it says on the file, the establishments listed may change status without notice. Therefore please also inquire directly.

And finally, if you have any product enquiries, you can always email or call Halal Helpline. They are very quick at responding to emails and are a very  helpful team to speak to.

Halal Helpline: Email – info@halalhelpline.org, Tel = (02) 9232 6731

Alternatively, you can contact AFIC on halal@afic.com.au (if you are in Sydney) and aficmelb@bigpond.com (Melbourne).

Thanks for reading! Please share any resources, checklists or guides that you are currently using. How do you go about halal shopping?

 Disclaimer: Above information is subject to change or differ based on schools of thought/halal certification company. EatprayGrow is not liable for any action based on this information.

For Non-Nuslim health professionals – links to save for the future!  🙂 

Here is a friendly site for those looking to better understand food habits of Muslim clients/patients www.ifanca.org, run by the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA).

And here is a really good brochure specifically written for Non-Muslim healthcare professionals on caring for Muslim patients. 🙂 http://www.afic.com.au/?p=497&c=2024

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Food and spirituality

Hi all!!

As my profession ‘kind of’ revolves around food, nutrition and the human physiology, I have recently developed a deep curiosity to find out where food fits in Islam and what Islam says about good health and spirituality. So here is my first blog post, on food and spirituality.

Food has great significance in Islam and is often associated with one’s relationship with Allah. In Surah (20) verse 89, the Quran states “eat of the good and wholesome things that We have provided for your sustencance, but indulge in no excess therein.”   No statement have I ever read that pretty much sums up the essence of food and nutrition in 1 perfect sentence. Now that goes without saying.

The physical body is a gift from God; it is given to humans as an amanah (trust) to be taken care of for a limited period of time. How much food is consumed and the choice of food has a direct impact on the physical and spiritual well-being of the person. In fact, the food you consume can actually affect your behaviour and personality. Wholesome, natural and healthy food assists the development of a good personality. At the same time, overeating can cause sluggishness, thereby ‘dampening’ the soul, hampering spiritual growth and increase physical ailments.

The blessed Prophet (pbuh) has said: “The children of Adam fill no vessel worse than their stomach. Sufficient for him is a few morsels to keep his back straight. If he must eat more, then a third should be for his food, a third for his drink and a third left for air”. (Sunan al- Tirmidhi).

Islam makes a strong connection between food and worship and numerous restrictions are placed on what can be eaten and what cannot be eaten (halal, haram etc.). During fasting, being deprived of food during the day is able to significantly enhance your spirituality and closeness to God. Fasting also teaches us to manage and practise spirituality and to not eat excessively. At the same time, we are also taught to be grateful and thankful for the food we get.

And finally, the noble Prophet once said: “God has a right over you; your body has a right over you…” Therefore let us make new resolutions to eat and live healthier, not just for your waistline, but because it is an essential aspect of worship.

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