Health Talk on Fasting

With Dr Umar F. Hussain

Fasting is not a new concept, it’s been used for thousands of years among religions, Jews fast for atonement, Buddhist for enlightenment, and self-control, fasting is used for a political protest like Mahatma Gandhi of India and more recently for medical purposes to treat the likes of cancer, and Alzheimers.

Fasting in Islam (known as Sawm), is the practice of abstaining, from eating, drinking, smoking, sexual activity, and erotic talk. During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the primary aim is to form spiritual discipline and self-control. Allah has revealed in His Holy Book in surat Al-Baqarah 2:183 (O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous).

What happens to our body when we fast
Metabolic switches occur when liver sugar is exhausted then our body transit into burning stored fats for fuel which helps in decreasing inflammation (arthritis), increasing gut healing.
Fat metabolism helps in cleaning bad proteins, microbes, fungus by antioxidants.
After 12 hours of fasting, our body releases a hormone called Growth hormone, which is an anti-aging hormone, promotes healing, and protein synthesis.
During fasting, cells activate pathways that enhance intrinsic defense against destructive chemicals and metabolic stress, and thus remove or repair damaged molecules.

Health Benefits of Fasting

  • Improving obesity and weight loss.
  • Blood pressure control and decrease heart diseases.
  • Glucose regulation.
  • Mental and physical well-being.
  • Increase in life span and decrease aging.
  • Decrease the risk of cancer and neurodegeneration.
  • Fasting enhances memory, learning, and overall cognition (the reason why we should not close school during Ramadan)

Fasting, Hydration, and Diet
In the extreme dryness and heat of the Ramadan weather added with the lack of water intake, we become very prone to dehydration, to avoid that we should stay in places that are cool and avoid direct sun during the day. Maintain span water intake throughout the night. It can also be helpful to pay attention to the foods we are eating.

  • Try to take foods with high water content recommended are fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, watermelon, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
  • Take low calories diet, nutrient-rich food like sweet potatoes, carrots, and onions rich in minerals and vitamins.
  • Cultural foods can be very oily and heavy, even though they taste amazing if taken daily one tends to feel exhausted and tired the next day
  • It’s recommended to break the fast with a date some fruits and water then after isha prayer one can dive into other foods

Our Lifestyle during Ramadan
During Ramadan many think it is time to stay inactive and indulge in a sedentary lifestyle, many even tend to neglect the rituals of the month and the Spiritual connection one should develop with his Lord, excessive sleeping and overeating tend to cause weight gain and excessive fatigue.

Common medical problems during Ramadan

  • Huge hunger pain and irritability.
  • Peptic ulcers.
  • Bloating and indigestion.
  • Constipation.
  • Low blood sugar

Ramadan is a time for spiritual growth and celebration. Fasting has a broad spectrum of benefits for many health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases.

Watch the full session here

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