“O you who believe fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you so that you can learn Taqwa” (Quran 2:183)
Happy Ramadan 2015 to all muslims all over the world! Have you ever wondered why muslims fast for a whole month? Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity, and performing the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca. Because this is a unique time, many Muslims prepare special nutritious food, I want to take advantage to give you all some reminders for the health benefits of Fasting and why it’s becoming popular in the health and wellness field.
I will be cooking different nutritious dishes and posting every three days during this holy month, so don’t hesitate to check again or subscribe to my newsletter to get them in your mailbox
Fasting in different cultures
Many people fast for religious or spiritual purposes while others wish to gain a plethora of health benefits. During Yom Kippur, many of my Jewish friends refrained from eating or drinking for 24 hours. Lent is also a duration of time when Christians observe fast. This month, the holy month of Ramadan, will also be a time where Muslims will observe fasting in which they entirely refrain from any drinks or foods from dawn to dusk. Muslims mainly fast for spiritual reasons as they believe this holy month is when they can get closest to God as they refrain from worldly goods such as food and water. Not only do Muslims gain spiritual points for fasting, but doctors and health specialists confirm the vast array of health benefits of fasting. Having fasted Ramadan from age 11 years old, I can certainly witness and confirm its amazing benefits. I have listed a few benefits to fasting, additionally supported by doctors findings.
“I must say in all seriousness that fasting when combined with a properly selected diet is the nearest approach to a ‘cure-all’ that is possible to conceive– profoundly simple and simply profound!” – John Tilden, M.
Health Benefits of Fasting
I. Fasting Flushes out Toxins in the body
When we are eating constantly, our body is persistently at work trying to break down all the foods and liquids we put in our bodies. As a matter of fact, our consumer culture influences us to overeat so much so, that the number one killer in the United States is heart disease and heart related diseases
Fasting, however, is an immediate remedy for those toxins in our bodies which lead to fatal diseases. Dr. Joel Furhman has supervised hundreds of patients states that when we fast, “the body enters ketosis”- a process where the body needs energy and starts to burn fats (instead of normally burning carbohydrates), hence also burning the toxins stored there.
2. Fasting can Boost Immunity
How can your body’s immune system strengthen if there are no nutrients from foods and liquids?
That’s exactly what I thought when I learned this. Well according to the University of California, “When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged…” (2014). In other words, your body re-news it’s disease-fighting cells strengthening your immune system every time you fast.
To further read the benefit of fasting by the University of California, click here
3. Fasting Can Break Addictions
As you are refraining from putting anything into your body for a number of hours you are similarly refraining from alcohol, nicotine, junk food, or any other harmful consumptions you otherwise had problems controlling.
In my experience, I knew of a few people in my community who were heavy smokers and some of them even quit smoking after Ramadan. Not having those harmful substances in your body for a good number of hours, your cravings will surely soon go away.
4. Fasting Helps with Weight Loss
This one might be a little obvious as not putting food or liquids into your body also means that you don’t have excess food or liquids to go to your fats and tissues.
But be warned, I knew some friends who gained weight while they were fasting! This could be for two reasons: your body could be in a state of starvation (usually after three days of fasting, your body gets use to an empty stomach) and so it stores food into your fats. Or, (as some of my friends confessed) binge eating late at night could also affect weight gain. But a majority of people who have fasted in my community, have lost a good sum of weight and still remained healthy, if not healthier.
5. Fasting Cleanses the Colon
As mentioned before, many illnesses today are food related due to people incorrectly feed their bodies with too much fats and sugars while entirely ignoring other necessary vitamins. Fasting also gives your also TIME to clear out all that excess fats and gunk in your colon when it would ave otherwise distracted digesting had you not been fasting.
6. Fasting Helps with Brain Development and Nourishment
Aiding in the brain development and nourishment. According to Ranjan ji, fasting provides mainly three benefits. One of them is increasing Neuronal Autophagy. Similarly to how fasting increases immunity, fasting allows the body to focus on recycling “brain-waste,” a highly important function you would want working.
7. A sign of a unique connection with Allah
Fasting is a special act of worship which is only between humans and God since no one else knows for sure if this person is actually fasting. Thus God says in hadith qudsi that “Fasting is for Me and I only will reward it”. In another hadith, the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) has said “If one does not give up falsehoods in words and actions, God has no need of him giving up food and drink”.
Breaking Your Fast
What has not been mentioned but is just as critical is knowing how to break one’s fast. I remember when I once broke my fast, I went straight to the main course…and threw up shortly after. My body hasn’t eaten all day and to begin with a heavy course, my stomach wasn’t prepared for such foods and so reacted as it was in a “state of shock.” Now whenever I fast in Ramadan or other times of the year, I break my fast with lighter foods such as dates (an Islamic tradition) and milk. Many experts recommend fruits or foods with high acidity.
With the list of benefits I have presented above, fasting can overall have magnificent effects on healing the human body when done accordingly.
But fasting may not be for everyone, as Muslims are required to fast annually, the elderly, young, menstruating, pregnant, or ill are exempted from fasting. This is why it is highly recommend to consult your doctor as to which type of fast (or if you can fast at all) works with your body and state of health. At the end of the day, you know your body best and now some of the benefits of fasting!
Do you have anything special you would like to share about Ramadan? Please feel free to share it in a comment.