Its Ramadan Season! Here are 5 Benefits of Fasting

Ramadan, which begins on May 6 in most countries this year, is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.

It involves abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual relations from dawn to sunset, in the hopes that it will lead to greater “taqwa”, or consciousness of God.

Muslims were commanded to fast during Ramadan more than 1,400 years ago, the ancient Greeks recommended fasting to heal the body, and today some scientists are advocating a modified fast for its mental and physical benefits.

Known as intermittent fasting, this modified fast comes in a number of forms that require not eating for 12, 16, or 24 hours at a time. Another form, known as the 5:2 fast, advocates calorie restriction (eating only between 500 and 600 calories) over a period of 36 hours, twice a week.

Benefits of Fasting

Here are some benefits to fasting;

  1. Improved Sleep

    Scientists have also been studying the link between diet, gut health, and mental wellbeing and, as Mosley explained, fasting can lead to the release of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) in the brain.

    Many people who have embraced fasting have also found that done properly, it has helped them lose fat and gain lean muscle mass.

  2. Reduced risk of some cancers

“The proven benefits include improved sleep and evidence of reduced risk of some cancers, in particular, breast cancer.”

3. Prevent health problems

4. Removes toxins

By not consuming any food, our body is able to concentrate on removing toxins, as we give the digestive system a rest.

Nutritionist Claire Mahy told Al Jazeera: “Fasting allows the gut to cleanse and strengthens its lining. It can also stimulate a process called autophagy, which is where cells self-cleanse and removes damaged and dangerous particles.”

5. Improves mental wellbeing

“This has been shown to protect brain cells and could reduce depression and anxiety, as well as the risk of developing dementia,” Mosley added.

“In The Fast Diet I advocate a form of fasting called ‘time-restricted eating’,” Mosley said.

“This involves only eating within certain hours, similar to the form of fasting practiced by Muslims during Ramadan.

Experts have found that restricting food intake during the day can help prevent health problems such as high cholesterol, heart disease, and obesity, as well as improve mental health and wellbeing.

 

When not to fast

As with any diet or lifestyle change, there are risks to fasting as it is not suited to everyone.

Individuals with compromised health or those who are being followed by a physician for any health conditions should consult a doctor before trying it in order to be monitored for some of the side-effects.

“Fasting can lead to low blood glucose levels (BGL), which causes reduced concentration and increased fatigue,” explained registered nutritionist Nazmin Islam.

Islam added that sustainable weight loss is only possible with regular fasting and that any weight loss during Ramadan could easily be reversed once an individual returns to their daily eating patterns.

“However, the benefits outweigh the cons. In the long run, fasting, if done correctly, can improve one’s digestive system and overall metabolism.”

Courtesy of AlJazeera.com.

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