Ramadan is not only a time for Muslims to build character and become closer to God. Fasting during the holy month also presents several scientifically-proven health benefits.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims across the world as a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. Children generally do not participate until they reach puberty, and there are exemptions for those who are ill, traveling, pregnant, or menstruating.
People who are not able to maintain their fasting are required to make charitable contributions to feed one person for each day they missed fasting.
The purpose of Islamic fasting is to adopt self-control over worldly desires; to surrender to God and develop self-discipline and spiritual awareness; to purify the body, heart, soul, and mind; and to improve patience and empathize with those who are living in hunger and poverty.
Fasting during Ramadan also allows Muslims to truly count their blessings and give thanks from within, as well as with their actions. This includes restraining from anger, speaking the truth, doing good deeds, and exercising personal discipline.
Muslims describe Ramadan as a healing month that helps worshippers mentally and physically recover from mild to severe health conditions. Science has proven that Ramadan fasting does produce several health benefits.
Lower cholesterol and enhanced heart health
Scientists found that fasting is most effective in reducing the risk of diabetes and related metabolic problems, according to 2014 research on pre-diabetics from the American Diabetes Association.
According to the research, fasting may improve blood sugar control, which can guard against cardiovascular diseases and reduce cholesterol, as well as reduce the risks of heart attacks or stroke. If people continue to follow a healthy diet after Ramadan, this newly lowered cholesterol level should be easy to maintain.
Detoxifying the body
Many chronic diseases have been linked to the toxic burden the human body carries and its inability to remove waste efficiently. The toxins can be in the form of nicotine and other harmful drugs, air pollutants, fats, or cholesterol.
Fasting is a form of detoxification from overeating and from exposure to unwanted chemicals in food and our environment.
To best benefit from this detoxification during Ramadan, it is important to follow the sunnah and not sleep throughout the day or overeat.
For Muslims who wish to lose weight, Ramadan provides an ideal opportunity to reach that goal.
When fasting, the human body starts burning calories more slowly. It switches from utilizing carbohydrates as its primary fuel to using fats, ensuring a constant source of energy for the body.
Fasting also causes the stomach to gradually shrink, meaning people will need to eat less food to feel full.
To achieve optimal results in losing weight and maintaining the loss, it is important to choose an effective diet that can be followed in the long term.
Read also: Favorite Moroccan Dishes to Try This Ramadan
Emotional and spiritual detox
Although detoxification usually relates to removing physical toxins from the body, people can also experience emotional and spiritual cleansing during Ramadan.
Ramadan is the perfect time to purify the heart and the soul. In this life, it is easy to focus on materialistic worries regarding work, money, and food, which can lead to neglecting the needs of the soul and heart.
The holy month is an opportunity for Muslims to become more conscious and aware of their thoughts and actions, reject all negative thoughts and emotions, and refill their hearts with purity and peace. Ramadan is a chance to avoid bad habits, hate, and envy, and drift to forgiveness, patience, and love.
Muslims understand that “dhikr” (reciting short prayers) and meditation also benefit the body in fasting mode by encouraging relaxation and reducing the production of stress hormones.
Boosting brain function
When restrained from eating, instead of concentrating on digestion, the human body’s organs have a chance to repair themselves, reject existing toxins, and clean circulating blood.
The energy that the body usually uses in the process of digestion can be targeted towards enhancing health, vitality, and the functions of the mind.
Many Muslims experience a higher energy level, more mental focus and clarity, and greater spiritual awareness due to relaxation and meditation exercises during Ramadan.
Greater nutrient absorption
A combination of fasting during the day and eating late at night causes an increase in a hormone called adiponectin, which allows muscles to absorb more nutrients. Adiponectin also helps to guard against atherosclerosis and can improve the body’s insulin resistance.
It is important to focus on a healthy diet during Ramadan to capitalize on the benefits of fasting. Muslims must also remember that establishing a healthy diet that can be maintained after the holy month can lead to numerous long-term health benefits throughout the body.