Every year, Muslims around the globe observe fasting in the Holy Month of Ramadan. Fasting during Ramadan is obligatory for the Muslims (especially adults). Apart from Muslims, various other religions also promote fasting as a form of self-discipline for spirituality. The type of fasting actually varies in each religion, in some food is prohibited while in other water. As for Muslims, fasting is not eating or drinking anything from dawn till sunset
Health Benefits of Fasting during Ramadan
The long hours of fasting for a whole month of Ramadan can bring changes in the daily life of people’s lifestyle for the whole month and it can often alter the nutritional intake. Whether fasting is done for religious purposes or health purposes, it has many health benefits. Below are the 7 medically backed fasting benefits on health.
1. Fasting Helps Improving your Gut Health
Fasting improves gut health. Digesting food is quite a lot of work for your body, fasting gives your body a break. Various studies have shown that fasting increases the good bacteria in your gut such as a particular bacteria Akkermansia, that reduces inflammation and increases your body’s metabolism. Fasting thus helps in resetting your gut in a good way.
2. Fasting Helps Reducing High Blood Pressure
Fasting is one of the natural methods to correct your high blood pressure issue. It helps in reducing the risk of “Atherosclerosis”. Atherosclerosis is a condition in which fats, cholesterol and other substances clog the arteries and thus affect the blood pressure. But when you are fasting, your body is in energy conservation mode therefore, glucose and fats are broken down to provide energy to the body. Adrenaline and noradrenaline i.e. fear and flight hormones are also reduced. In short, Metabolic rate of your body is decreased which is helpful in reducing high blood pressure.
3. Health Benefits of Fasting in killing Cancerous Cells
Fasting has many medically backed health benefits. One of these is in cancer treatment. Fasting helps in regenerating the immune system, the newly produced cells are more efficient and quick to deal with infections and diseases. In fact, these new immune cells also suppress or kill the cancerous cells as well. Basically, these cancer cells need the energy to multiply and divide, they are abnormal cells. While during fasting, your body is in “energy conservation mode” and not only it affects and suppresses cancer cell growth but the energy production pathway also changes to ketosis in which fats are broken down to release energy. Various other studies have shown that fasting also protects cancer patients from the harmful side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
4. Fasting helps in Increasing Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin sensitivity is basically the sensitivity of the cells of the body towards insulin. It is the body’s effectivity of lowering the blood sugar level by releasing insulin hormone. If the body is having high insulin sensitivity it means less insulin is used to reduce blood sugar as body cells absorb the blood glucose easily. While having low insulin sensitivity alter the body function and one can have health issues like high cholesterol level, high blood pressure, obesity and various heart diseases. Diet and lifestyle habits have an impact on insulin sensitivity. In order to improve insulin sensitivity fasting during Ramadan is beneficial for health. This is due to the fact that various studies have shown that fasting can increase insulin sensitivity which in turn can help you with normalizing blood pressure, body weight, cholesterol levels, heart function and thus reduces your chances of having diabetes.
5. Fasting Helps in Detoxification
The human body is a wonder in itself, from detoxification to the immune system, each cell of the body is miraculous. The function of each organ can be improved by diet and a healthy lifestyle. Fasting, in this case, is a positive aspect of a healthy lifestyle as per religious and medical evidence. If we talk about detoxification, the liver is a natural detox centre of the body. Other organs of our body also help in removing the toxins. Fasting helps in detoxification. During fasting, we are not taking processed food. Processed foods have the highest amount of additives, these additives may become toxins in the body and stored in the body. During Fasting, since the body is in energy conservation mode, fats are broken down to release energy. Thus, it promotes the reduction in fats, blood sugar and eliminates the toxins from the body. Kidneys, liver and other organs of the body are involved in detoxification.
6. Fasting reduces the Inflammatory responses of the body
Various studies have shown that fasting resolves the inflammatory responses of the body. Inflammatory responses of the body include inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory ulcerative colitis, skin diseases such as psoriasis and various allergies. Fasting proves to have a healing effect on such inflammatory diseases. Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine have discovered a compound in a body which during fasting or dieting blocks the part of the immune system involved in the inflammatory response in case of Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes.
7. Fasting Boosts Immunity
Fasting can literally help in regenerating your immune system. During fasting, your body is in “Energy Conservation Mode” due to fewer nutrients intake. This provides an opportunity for your body to recycle damaged and old cells. Fasting gives signals to your stem cells to produce new white blood cells which fight off the infections. These new cells are more efficient and quicker in dealing with infection hence boosting your immune system.
Fasting does a whole lot of good by not only helping our body take a break but also rejuvenate our immune system. Overall, fasting is good for health. However in some cases both our religion and science tells us that in certain cases fasting should be avoided such as people with severe diabetes issues, breastfeeding mothers, chronic kidney diseases and after surgery, as in such cases it can cause health issues.
But, still fasting has many physical and psychological benefits if you are doing it in a proper way. You can also consult your doctor or dietician before fasting if you have an underlying health condition.