During the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims around the world observed a month of fasting, reflection, prayer, and community. Between sunrise and sunset, nearly all adult Muslims refrain from food, drink, tobacco products, and other behaviours.
While the spiritual rewards of fasting are great, there are also a number of health benefits associated with this type of fasting.
Intermittent fasting has become increasingly popular in the last several years. This is when individuals purposefully do not eat for big blocks of time during the day to benefit from the practices powerful effects.
Are you curious about the health benefits of fasting during Ramadan? Let’s take a look at 10 fasting benefits.
1. Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Lose Belly Fat and Weight
Two-thirds of the Australian adult population is either overweight or obese. People who are obese have an increased risk for a long list of serious health conditions and diseases. These include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cholesterol problems
- High blood pressure
- Gallbladder disease
- Many types of cancer
- Mental disorders
One of the most common reasons that individuals undergo an intermittent fasting program is in order to lose weight. Since you will typically be eating fewer meals when you are fasting, you will not be taking in as many calories.
Fasting can also help to enhance hormone function. This additionally facilitates weight loss.
On top of that, fasting for short periods of time can actually increase your metabolic rate. This means that you burn more calories than you would otherwise. Basically, intermittent fasting both reduces the number of calories you intake and burns calories faster, often resulting in weight loss.
2. It Might Be Beneficial to Heart Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world. Roughly one out of every four people who die around the globe do so as a result of a heart condition. “Heart disease” is actually a term that refers to a number of different heart conditions, though the most common form of heart disease is known as coronary artery disease (CAD).
There are a number of different risk factors that are associated with having a decreased or an increased risk of developing heart disease.
It has been found that intermittent fasting can improve a number of different risk factors. These include blood sugar levels, blood pressure, blood triglycerides, total and LDL cholesterol, and inflammatory markers.
At this point, though, more studies need to be done about the relationship between heart health and intermittent fasting. Many of the studies that have been done so far has been on animals rather than on humans. More human studies need to be done in order to understand whether or not intermittent fasting is beneficial to heart health.
3. It Might Help Prevent Cancer
Cancer is a term that refers to a collection of related conditions. All of these diseases have to do with some of the body’s cells dividing without stopping and spreading to different tissues in the body.
There has been some promising evidence from animal studies that indicate that intermittent fasting might help to prevent the development of cancer. Additionally, there is also evidence to suggest that fasting can help to reduce some of the side effects of chemotherapy for patients who do have cancer.
4. Intermittent Fasting Is Good For Your Brain
Various metabolic features that are known to be important for the health of your brain can be improved with intermittent fasting.
This includes reduced inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, and a reduction in insulin resistance and blood sugar levels. There have also been a number of studies done in rats that have suggested that intermittent fasting might help increase growth of new nerve cells. This should also be beneficial to brain function.
A brain hormone called BDNF or brain-derived neurotrophic factor is also increased by intermittent passing. Individuals that are deficient in BDNF are believed to be more susceptible to a number of brain problems including depression.
There have also been animal studies that show that this type of fasting can help to protect the brain from the damage that occurs as a result of strokes.
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5. It Might Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, 60 to 80% of dementia cases can be linked to Alzheimer’s disease. At this point, there is no cure available for this disease, so it is critical to prevent it from developing in the first place.
One study in rats found that the onset of Alzheimer’s disease could be delayed or its severity reduced through intermittent fasting. It was also found in a series of case reports that the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease could be significantly improved with daily short-term fasts.
There is also some research that suggests that fasting can help to protect people from other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
At this point, though, many of the studies done have been in animals. More human research is needed in order to understand how intermittent fasting can impact the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.
6. Fasting During Ramadan Might Help You Live Longer
It might sound too good to be true, but some studies have found that intermittent fasting can extend the lifespan of rats. This is similar to the way that continuous calorie restriction can help people to live longer.
Some of the rat studies found that rats who fasted every other day live longer by a factor of 83% than rats who were not engaging in a fasting program.
For this reason, intermittent fast and has become a very popular strategy for people who are engaged in antiaging practices. At this point, though, it has not been proven that fasting will make you live longer.
While more studies are needed, it does make some sense that this type of fasting could help extend your lifespan. This is because of the known benefits of intermittent fasting for a number of health markers including metabolism.
7. It Changes the Function of Genes, Cells, and Hormones
When you aren’t eating, your body has the opportunity to take care of other necessary processes. Your body initiates changes in your hormone levels in order to make the fat stored in your body more accessible and it begins important cellular repair processes.
A number of different changes will occur when you start fasting for Ramadan. Your insulin levels will job, the blood levels of human growth hormone can increase, beneficial changes occur in your genes, and cellular repair processes are undergone.
8. Intermittent Fasting Can Lower Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Nearly 1 million adults in Australia had type 2 diabetes in 2017-2018. The main features of this condition are insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels. For that reason, strategies that can reduce insulin resistance can also help to reduce blood sugar levels and protect individuals from type 2 diabetes.
It has been found that there are some major benefits for insulin resistance in intermittent fasting. It can also lead to a reduction in blood sugar levels.
One of the most severe complications that can result from diabetes is kidney damage. One study using diabetic rats found that intermittent fasting could protect against kidney damage.
9. It Can Reduce Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in the Body
A number of chronic diseases are linked to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is also one of the steps that leads towards the aging process.
This phenomenon involves free radicals, which are unstable molecules. When these free radicals react with other molecules such as DNA and protein, they can cause damage to these important molecules. It has been found through a number of studies that intermittent fasting might help to improve the body’s resistance to oxidative stress.
On top of that, it has been found that intermittent fast and can help to fight against inflammation. Inflammation is another key driver of a long list of common diseases.
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10. It Induces Cellular Repair Processes
Your body initiates a process called autophagy when you fast. This is when the cells in the body undergo a “waste removal” process.
Autophagy is when your cells break down and metabolize dysfunctional and broken proteins that collect inside the cells over time. It is believed that increased autophagy might help to protect you from a number of different diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
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Fasting during Ramadan is a powerful act of worship that offers the ability to get closer to God and be more compassionate towards others. This time of self-improvement, spiritual reflection, and heightened worship and devotion is an essential part of Islam. While it is incredibly spiritually healthy to participate in this Muslim ritual, it appears that the numerous fasting benefits also mean that it is physically and mentally healthy, as well.
Crescent Wealth Super is the first Islamically-compliant super fund. More than 10,000 other Australians have opted to invest their retirement wealth in a way that doesn’t compromise their core beliefs and values.
Are you interested in investing in a way that doesn’t conflict with your Islamic faith? If so, consider joining Crescent Wealth today!
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Islamic Money Expert
Fatma currently leads Crescent Wealth’s Operations, including strategic business planning, project management of major projects and management of key stakeholders.