Ramadan is a month of self-regulation and self-training. It also has a lot of medical benefits. Over the years, patients undergo fasting for weight management, lowering lipid levels and to give some rest to the digestive tract. At times, these non-monitored fasting and crash diets can have adverse effects on human body.
However, Ramadan fasting is different from these diet plans as there is no malnutrition or inadequate calorie intake in it. The calorie intake of those who observe fasting during Ramadan is typically at or slightly below the nutritional requirement guidelines. In addition, since it is voluntarily taken and is not a prescribed imposition from the physician, there is always a chance for them to continue it post Ramadan as well.
The difference between Ramadan and total fasting is the timing of the food. During Ramadan, after having a pre-dawn breakfast, they do not eat or drink anything until dusk. Abstinence from water for eight to 10 hours is not necessarily bad for health. In fact, it causes concentration of all fluids within the body, producing slight dehydration. The body has its own water conservation mechanism.
Recent scientific studies show that it can regenerate the immune system, and might even boost the cancer curing mechanism in cancer patients who are undergoing treatment.
The importance of Eating three dates while breaking the Ramadan fast everyday
While breaking the fast during Ramadan, the iftar begins by eating three dates, every day. Though it is done for spiritual reasons, they also come with multiple health benefits. One of the most important aspects of fasting is getting the right amount of energy. An average serving of dates contains carbohydrates, this is one of the perfect foods to give a boost.
Dates have high fiber content which will aid and improve digestion throughout Ramadan. It’s high levels of potassium, magnesium and B vitamins makes it one of the healthiest fruits out there.
It boosts brain activity
Fasting increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that interacts with neurons in the hippocampus, cortex, and basal forebrain (the parts of the brain that regulate memory, learning, and higher cognitive function — uniquely human stuff). Low levels of BDNF are linked to Alzheimer’s, memory loss, and cognitive impairment.
A study carried out by scientists in the USA found that the mental focus achieved during Ramadan increases the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which causes the body to produce more brain cells, thus improving brain function.
Likewise, a distinct reduction in the amount of the hormone cortisol, produced by the adrenal gland, means that stress levels are greatly reduced both during and after Ramadan.
An opportunity to quit bad habits
Ramadan is the perfect time to ditch bad habits for good. Smoking and sugary foods should not be indulged during Ramadan. Your body will gradually acclimatize to their absence, until addiction is 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.
A chance to control Cholesterol levels
The study published in JFMPC 2020 showed, post Ramadan fasting period, there is a reduction in total cholesterol and triglycerides along with a rise in levels of HDL-C, which had beneficial effects on lipid profile. Low cholesterol increases cardiovascular health, greatly reducing the risk of heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke. Regular fasting and better heart health might also be linked to the way body metabolizes cholesterol and sugar. Regular fasting can decrease low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol. It's also thought that fasting can improve the way body metabolizes sugar. This can reduce risk of gaining weight and developing diabetes, which are both risk factors for heart disease.
Long lasting appetite control
One of the main problems with extreme fad diets is that any weight lost is often quickly put back on, sometimes even with a little added extra. This isn’t the case with Ramadan. The reduction in food consumed throughout fasting causes stomach to gradually shrink and it reduces the hunger pangs.
If you want to get into the habit of healthy eating then Ramadan is a great time to start. Post Ramadan, your appetite will be lower than it was before. You will be far less likely to overindulge with eating. Naturally, fasting also decreases the appetite which reduces the hunger hormone levels in the body.
When body starts reaching out to fat reserves to create energy, it will also burn away the harmful toxins present in the fat deposits. This body cleanse will leave a healthy blank slate behind, and is the perfect stepping stone to a consistently healthy lifestyle.
Detoxification is the process of reducing intake and eliminating toxins from the body or transforming them and clearing excess mucus and congestion to revitalize the body’s natural functions and healing capacities. These toxins can be in the form of nicotine and other harmful drugs, air pollutants, fats, cholesterol, and free radicals.
Fasting improves the processes of elimination and increases the release of toxins from the colon, kidneys and bladder, lungs and respiratory tract, sinuses, and the skin. We allow the digestive system to rest, when there is no incessant intake of foods during the day.
The breaking down of foods drains a whole lot of energy from the body. Ramadan fasting minimizes the work load on the organs of digestion; the intestines, stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and even the kidneys. The organs repairs and restores themselves, clears existing toxins, and cleans up the circulating blood and lymph.
Fasting can be a remedy for a number of health problems. Indigestion, poor bowel function, and excess abdominal fat strain the muscles of the back, which may be responsible for many forms of back pain. This type of back pain can be alleviated by fasting and a lighter diet during the evenings. Allergies and sinuses congestion may be relieved as fasting helps rid the body of excess mucus discharge.
During Ramadan, metabolism becomes more efficient as the amount of nutrients absorbed from food improves. There will be an increase in a hormone called adiponectin, which is produced by a combination of fasting and eating late at night. It allows your muscles to absorb more nutrients. This will improve your health as your body will be able to absorb and make use of the nutrients they need to function in a better way.
What happens to the body when Fasting
During the first couple of days of fasting both blood sugar level and blood pressure will drop. The body will start the cleansing process. The first few days are the hardest as they are usually accompanied with headaches, dizziness, nausea and intense hunger.
In the second stage the body becomes accustomed to the fasting schedule and the digestive system is able to rest. The digestive system focuses its energy on cleansing the body and healing cells and the white blood cells in the body will become more active. During this stage the organs will start their repair process as well.
Energy levels will be increased, in the third stage of fasting and you will be able to concentrate better. There will be an overall feeling of wellness. During fasting, the healing process becomes a lot more efficient and so the body repairs the damaged cells. During this stage the colon, liver, kidney, lungs and skin eliminate toxins.
The last 10 days of fasting during Ramadan will see the body becoming more accustomed to the fasting process. You will be more energetic and experience improved memory and concentration. At this stage, the organs are finishing up their healing process. Once all toxins are removed the body is able to function at its maximum capacity.
These are just some of the physical benefits of fasting that will take place within the body apart from the immense spiritual benefits you gain in this month.