The Benefits of Fasting During Ramadan
Article by Mariam Malik
Fasting, if done correctly can really benefit you in medical terms. ‘Done correctly’ is to emphasize that pesky cravings for fried food must be avoided and a deep focus should be on having fruit or getting right into dinner rather than breaking the evening mean into an ‘aftar’ and a ‘dinner’ which inevitably makes you eat more. Traditionally, a fast is broken with three dates, or a glass or two of water that covers a good deal of your appetite. But can fasting help you lose weight? That is a matter of you doing it ‘corectly’.
There are other benefits of fasting too that I will share with you in the next few lines. Researchers at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore have found evidence that abstaining from virtually all food intake for over a week can protect the brain against degenerative neurological diseases as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. “Reducing your calorie intake could help your brain, but doing so by cutting your intake of food is not likely to be the best method of triggering this protection. It is likely to be better to go on intermittent bouts of fasting, in which you eat hardly anything at all, and then have periods when you eat as much as you want,” said Professor Mark Mattson, head of the institute’s laboratory of neurosciences. This means that intervals of fasting can make your brain more active. Although this doesn’t seem to be the case when we are lethargic all day in bed, Professor Mattson suggests that in evolutionary terms, this can be explained by our ancestors who had to hunt just to survive, meaning that the ‘fittest’ were able to exercise their brains best when they starved.
Another benefit of fasting is that it helps detoxify the accumulated toxins in your body by targetting toxins stored in your fat. Toxins are eliminated with every breath taken in as the body increases its rate of detoxification. With a relaxed body, there is less digestive burden and more rest of course that allows more resources for detoxification. This is not accomplished by water-only fast until 12-24 hours into a fast but with a Ramadan fast, this process occurs fairly quickly as it allows abstinence from food and drink.
Fasting has psychological benefits that help you cope with stress and depression by lowering your blood pressure. This occurs without caffeinated/fried food and also during worship.
Medical benefits of fasting combined with a healthy diet have also been shown to reduce the risk of lupus, arthiritis and chronic skin conditions. Fasting can also heal digestive track diseases like ulcerative colitis and crohn’s diease as the intestines are detoxified during a fast.
To sum up, it is recommended that one must fast if their immune system allows them to because as said by Agnese Barolo, a life coach in contemplative practices in New Rochelle, N.Y., “I know some doctors say there is no scientific evidence for the curative powers of fasting, but there is a reason every culture in every country has practiced some form of fasting for thousands of years.”