Fasting is basically refraining from any food or drink from dawn to dusk. In specific, you would have to stay away from any kind of food and drink from 5:30 a.m in the morning to around 6:30 p.m in the evening.
Since the time period between dawn and evening is different in different countries, the number of hours Muslims fast is also different.
In warmer parts of the world, the days are short and so, people in this part of the world have to fast for fewer hours compared to colder parts of the world where the days are longer.
I was recently having a conversation with a fellow medical professional about the health benefits of fasting on the body.
This was a very interesting topic since fasting has always been regarded as something spiritual and something only Muslims would have to do.
But in reality, fasting has a lot of health benefits as well some of which have also been medically proven and accepted.
Health benefits that may be obtained as a result of fasting may prove beneficial to various body systems and organs including the brain and stomach.
This discussion with my fellow progressed and we came up with specific benefits to the human body:
Control cholesterol levels
One of the main benefits a person can get from regular fasting is reduction of the cholesterol levels in the blood.
This comes as a result of the positive effects of fasting on the lipid profile. Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels in turn leads to great improvement in cardiovascular health and thus, greatly reduces your chances of developing heart disease, heart attacks or strokes.
Detoxifies your system
Regular fasting acts a fabulous and very efficient way of detoxifying your system.
By staying away from food and drinks all day, your body will get a chance to detoxify your digestive system throughout the month.
Since you will be staying away from food for hours at a time, your body will need to burn fat reserves in order to generate energy for different organs and systems.
Harmful toxins may be stored in fat deposits and so, utilization of the fat reserves will also release these harmful toxins which will be excreted from the body.
Boosts brain health
Fasting is believed to boost brain power and can have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing.
According to a popular platform (realbuzz.com), a study conducted by scientists in the US found that the mental focus achieved during fasting increases the level of neurotrophic factor.
This factor causes the body to produce more brain cells, thus improving brain function and making you more alert.
Get rid of bad habits
During fasting, apart from food and drink, you are also not allowed to smoke.
This period is an ideal time to break the addiction of smoking as well as other vices like over indulgence in sweet foods.
As you stay away from these bad habits, your body gradually gets used to their absence to the point where you will be free from the addiction.
The effect of fasting in destroying addiction is so effective that the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has recommended fasting as the ideal time to quit smoking.
Improves nutrient absorption
Refraining from food and drink throughout the day will make your metabolism more efficient.
This means that you will absorb more nutrients from the same amount of food than before.
This is due to increase in production of certain hormones which allow the muscles to absorb more nutrients.
And in general, it will increase availability of nutrients to all body organs and systems.
According to canceractive.com, fasting and calorie restriction can slow and even stop cancer progression and tumor growth, kill cancer cells and improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
So one very powerful and efficient thing you can do to save yourself from developing cancer is to fast regularly.
Seeing all these fabulous benefits, you don’t necessarily need to be a Muslim to observe fasts. In fact, in many parts of the world, people of various different faiths and cultures have also adopted regular fasting due to its various health benefits.
The common feeling shared by all individuals who fast regularly is how good and fresh it makes you feel after and this is definitely a very good sign of how beneficial fasting can be.
The author is a Medical Student at Hubert Kairuki Memorial University.