Category: Healthy Eating

Benefits of Fasting in Ramadan – A Health Perspective

ramadan

Fasting is one of the ‘five pillars’ of Islam which lay the foundation of the Muslim faith. It is a form of worship and an act of willing abstention from food, drinks and sexual intercourse.  From sunrise to sunset a believer is in a state of constant test, physical and moral. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast for 29 or 30 days depending upon the visual sightings of the crescent moon, according to numerous biographical accounts compiled in the hadiths (sayings of the Last Prophet, Muhammad P.B.U.H).

Fasting aims to develop and build self-control, restraint and patience in believers.

This post is going to explore the various health benefits of fasting. So let’s get the ball rolling! 🙂

Dates 

A fast is opened with a date for spiritual and religious reasons in Islam. It comes with many health benefits. It is pertinent to get the right amount of boost after an entire day of fasting. A date has 31 grams of carbohydrates which makes it a great source of energy! Dates also provide fibre which aids digestion throughout the month of Ramadan. In addition to this, dates are one of the most nutritious fruits with high levels of potassium, magnesium and B vitamins.

 5:2 diet

Dr. Michael Mosley, a BBC journalist with a medical degree researched the impact of continuous fasting in his Horizon Investigation (2012). He fasted for 2 days every week and lived on 600 calories during the days he was fasting. The findings of this study provided evidence for the life-extending and life-improving benefits of fasting on the human body. This also led to the popularity of 5:2 diet. In the diet: 5 days of the week, eat as you normally do, but twice a week, limit your food to 500 calories (for women) or 600 (for men).

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Fasting for intermittent periods can help shield the brain again degenerative illness. Researchers at National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore suggested that a reduction in calorie intake or a day or two a week is extremely beneficial for brain. Evidence was found that it helped protect against severe effects of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Keeping the balance

Dr Razeen Mahroof, an anesthetist from Oxford, says there’s a strong and intricate relationship between diet and health. “Ramadan isn’t always thought of as being an opportunity to lose weight because the spiritual aspect is emphasized more generally than the health aspect,” he says. “However, it’s a great chance to get the physical benefits as well’’.

When we are fasting, our body is starved. As a result, it starts to burn fat so that it can get energy. Weight loss is a result of this. On the other hand, taking fasting as a diet regime is not right at all. If we skip eating before sunrise or control our appetite while breaking the fast then it can have detrimental effects on our body. Our body will start breaking down muscle protein for energy.

Boost your brain

Fasting has positive effect on our mental and spiritual health.  As per a research by scientists in USA, it was revealed that mental focus achieved during Ramadan increases level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which causes the body to produce more brain cells, thus improving brain function. Moreover, there is also a marked reduction in the amount of hormone cortisol, produced by the adrenal gland, meaning that stress levels are greatly reduced both during and after Ramadan when an individual is observing a fast.

Time to Quit!

Ramadan is often termed to be cleanser. Many vices such as sugary foods, smoking are refrained from during the holy month. As one abstains from them our body will gradually acclimatize to their absence, until our addictions are kicked for good.

It’s also much easier to quit habits when you do so in a group, which should be easy to find during Ramadan.Ramadan and fastings ability to facilitate the ‘ditching bad habits’ is so noteworthy that the UK’s National Health Service recommends it as the ideal time to quit smoking.

Lower levels of cholesterol

It is an eminent fact that weight loss is one of the many physical outcomes of fasting but there are healthy changes taking place in our body. A team of Cardiologists in UAE found that people fasting enjoy a positive effect on their lipid profile. In simple terms, it means there is a reduction in cholesterol in blood stream thereby reducing risks of heart diseases and strokes.

Lasting appetite reduction

One of the main problems with extreme fad diets is that any weight lost is often quickly put back on quickly, even with a little added extra. For those observing fasts, it is completely different. The reduction in food consumed throughout fasting causes your stomach to gradually shrink, meaning you’ll need to eat less food to feel full. Ramadan is great time to start if we want to build the habit of eating healthy. At the end of Ramadan, our appetite will be lower than it was before, and we’ll be far less likely to overindulge with our eating.

Detoxification

Apart from spiritually cleansing our souls, Ramadan provides a fabulous detox for our body. By controlling food intake throughout the day, our body will have a chance to detoxify our digestive system throughout the month.When our body starts utilizing  fat reserves to create energy, it will also burn away any harmful toxins that might be existing in fat deposits. This body cleanse will leave a healthy blank slate behind, and is the perfect stepping stone to a consistently healthy lifestyle which needs to be maintained! Obviously 😉

 

Ramadan is a period of fasting. It teaches us reflection, patience, humbleness, devotion, generosity and sacrifice along with nourishing a feeling of unity and brotherhood. While major religious holidays have largely become commercialized events, Ramadan retains its intense spiritual meaning.

Lets promise ourselves to be better humans this Ramadan! Let this month cleanse our mind, body and soul…

Ramadan Mubarak!!! 🙂

xxx

i am fasting

Pret A Manger – My Fresh and Natural Lunch Spot!

Posh Pret

Every time, I entered Pret I got emotional with all the boards on their walls – advocating natural and fresh meals prepared on the very same day, without any preservatives. Instantly, my diet-conscious mind made peace with my guilty stomach – all in the name of being healthy and eating fresh! Yum…

The Sun published an article on 13th March 2013, highlighting the enormous amounts of salt in high-street food chains including our very fresh and preservative-free, Pret. As per the article, Sweedish Meetball Wrap at the cafe amounts to salt worth 9 bags of ready salted crisp!!! Excessive salt is the main cause for a multiple diseases such as high blood-pressure and heart diseases.

Katharine Jenner, of the Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), who carried out the salt survey, said: “If each of us ate a pinch of salt less a day, we would prevent around 4,000 deaths a year. We would also save the NHS around £300 million a year.” Alarming statistics for sure! Immediate and extreme steps need to be taken to reduce salt level by café chains or takeaway restaurants.

Earlier, in 2011, an article in Daily Mail claimed , Pret’s healthy and fresh sandwiches have as much salt as 10 packs of crisps and cereal with same amount of a sugar as a can of coke! Their fresh cheddar and pickle baguette contains approximately 800 calories and 15.6g of saturated fat, just the same as American Pizza from Pizza Express.

Pret has not used the word ‘healthy’ in their brand communication or any of their advertisements which is an extremely deliberate and smart move if not right- away misleading. Adjectives such as ‘fresh, natural ingredients and preservatives – free’ have often been used to subliminally target pseudo health-conscious consumers…a bit like myself.

We go on crazy diets  – lose some weight and in the process suffer from low vitamin, iron and calcium levels and excessive hair loss. We then realise…OOPS! Lets take the healthy and a wiser route…

This is when chains like Pret come in as blessings in disguise. Our knights in shining armour!

I would not have bothered to research about the fresh and natural lunch claims of Posh Pret until recently when I found a blue plastic piece floating in my Cream of Mushroom Soup! This was my inspiration to read about the food brand and find out about their presence.

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