During any major fast in Israel, we always hear many stories of people who fainted because of dehydration. Tisha B’av is considered one of the most important fasts in the year and many people fast. Due to the Coronavirus, people aren’t leaving their houses as much, so the risk of overheating and being dehydrated is slightly better.
However, Tisha B’av is a very long fast and it is falling on a very hot summer day. According to the weather report, the temperature should be in the high 80’s and in the low 90’s. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you don’t get dehydrated or overheated. Preparing for the fast a few days in advance is a sure way to fast safely.
When a person fasts, everyday behavior results in a loss of fluid that is not being replaced in the course of the day. When you talk, pray, breathe, sweat, and move, the body depletes its glycogen stores from muscles and the liver — that's the carbohydrate stores that provide quick energy. Then it starts breaking down protein within muscles and fat to produce energy. During that process, the body's metabolism slows down in order to conserve energy. This also explains why people do not keep any weight off from a fast! Meanwhile, hormonal reactions will fluctuate.
The very real dangers of dehydration can even lead to low blood pressure and cardiac arrest!
This year, the weather is going to be in the low-90’s, therefore it is important to follow the next few steps carefully. Here are EMA Care guidelines for safe fasting in Israel:
1) Starting 24 hours before the fast begins, drink plenty of liquids so your body’s cells are well hydrated. Avoid caffeine/lemons/lemon juice. Lemons are a natural diuretic and will result in the loss of fluids more quickly.
2) Eat pineapple at your final meal before the fast begins! Pineapple has the enzyme bromelain which promotes good digestion. Furthermore, pineapple reduces the feeling of hunger. In Israel, it’s impossible to find fresh pineapple this time of year, but canned pineapple also works.
3) Minimize physical exercise on Yom Kippur. This seems logical, but if you want to go to a synagogue that’s far from home, opt to walk in the evening hours. Walking long distances, especially in the heat, is not recommended.
4. Recognize the danger signs of dehydration. If you experience extreme weakness, heart palpitations, dizziness, or fainting, notify local doctors or medics so you can be examined and treated. If there is vomiting, fever, confusion, or chest pains you must go to the emergency room.
EMA Care wishes you a meaningful and safe fast day. Remember - by taking care of your physical well-being, you will be able to achieve the spiritual goals of this very holy day.
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My experience with Ema Care has been so positive that I wanted to share it in case it could help someone else. Eight days ago my daughter, a Shanah Bet student, called to say she wasn’t feeling well and had symptoms of Covid-19. I was put in touch with an Infectious Disease specialist who recommended Ema Care. I reached Dr. Eliana Aaron easily and signed my daughter up. The next morning, Ema Care gave my daughter a telehealth exam and provided her with prescriptions, as well as a list of...