Monday, August 31, 2009

Fasting in Ramadan provides a month of health benefits By Dr. Ashraf Ali

Muslims all over the world fast during the month of Ramadan just because it was ordained to them by Allah and not for any other purpose. However, this month-long fasting period has spiritual, religious, social, physical and economical benefits.

The most important issue is that fasting in Islam is not absolute fasting (i.e. fasting all day), which harms the body immensely. Instead, fasts last during the day and one is free to eat and drink at night. In other words, there is a mere re-scheduling of meals so that breakfast is advanced to Suhoor (just before dawn), lunch is skipped, and the fast is broken at sunset. Therefore, abstention from eating and drinking is only for about 12 to 14 hours in most parts of the Muslim world. This abstention brings a wealth of health benefits to the human body.

Rest and Rejuvenation

The entire digestive tract from the mouth down the stomach, liver,pancreases and intestines is at rest during the fast. Any organ which is rested this way has time to repair and renew itself for sustained work with renewed vigor.


The food we consume gives us life-sustaining nutrition as well as toxic by-products which are excreted in urine, stool and sweat. The detoxification process is undertaken by the liver which has ample time to catch up with its pending work in this 12–14 hours of fasting.

Prevention of cell choking

Each cell in the body is a chemical factory. By the constant supply of digested products, the cell gets ‘choked’, and fasting gives it ample time to clear pending work and escape from this ‘choking’.

Weight loss

Fasting leads to modest weight loss which results in a host of benefits like improvement in blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnola, atherosclerosis, heart diseases, lung diseases, obesity, digestive disorders, fatty liver, infertility, hypertrighlyceridermia and prevention of heart attacks and strokes.

However, these benefits only come to those who adhere to their fasts the way it has been laid out in the holy Qu’ran and Ahadith and not to those who fast all day and feast all night, as fasting in Ramadan has widely become these days. Islam’s prescription of month-long fasting - if done correctly - can act as an insurance against the obesity pandemic threatening society of late.

Tuning and Toning

During fasting, every day the glycogen storage in the liver gets depleted during the day and replenished in the night. Similarly, the dormant fat in the body cells gets renewed. This dormant fat is committed into active participation of energy generation.

Mental acuity and stamina

Fasting also improves mental acuity as well as increasing the physical and mental stamina of the fasting person. The more athletes practice, the more stamina they acquire. Fasting works the same way; making the body get used to working without the instant gratification provided by food and drink.

Doctor’s advice

Kindly break your fast with some fruit or fruit juice for instant energy, drink water and take a small, bland and easily digestible meal like porridge. Take your usual night meal, and do not make your Suhoor too heavy or too light. Make sure to drink water at regular intervals. –

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