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! 🙂
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.
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.
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!!! 🙂