The health benefits of fasting
The health benefits of fasting are already well known to Muslims, who generally report feeling better, brighter, lighter, more cleansed and alert as a result of fasting.
Fasting boosts your mental health
A study carried out by scientists in the US found that the mental focus achieved by fasting increases the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which causes the body to produce more brain cells, thus improving brain function. Likewise, a distinct reduction in the amount of the hormone cortisol, produced by the adrenal gland, means that stress levels are greatly reduced both during and after the fast period. Ask your friends who fasted over Ramadan how they felt both mid-way and at the end of the 30 days.
Fasting helps you get rid of unhealthy habits
Fasting is the perfect time to eliminate your unhealthy habits. Vices such as smoking and consuming sugary foods should not be indulged, and as you abstain from them your body will gradually acclimatise to their absence, until your addiction is kicked for good.
It’s also much easier to quit habits when you do so in a group. The ability of fasting to help you cut out bad habits is so significant that the National Health Service in the UK recommends it as the ideal time to quit smoking and adopt healthier habits.
Lowering your cholesterol by fasting
Obviously people who fast will lose weight, but did you know that they are reducing their cholesterol levels too? A team of cardiologists in the UAE found that people who observed Ramadan enjoyed a positive effect on their lipid profile, which means there is a reduction of cholesterol in the blood.
Low cholesterol increases cardiovascular health, greatly reducing the risk of suffering from heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke. What’s more, if you follow a healthy diet after fasting, this newly lowered cholesterol level should be easy to maintain.
Fasting provides a detox for your body
By not eating or drinking throughout the day your body will be offered the rare chance to detoxify your digestive system throughout the month. When your body starts eating into fat reserves to create energy, it will also burn away any harmful toxins that might be present in fat deposits. This body cleanse will leave a healthy blank slate behind, and is the perfect stepping stone to a consistently healthy lifestyle.
Fasting reduces your appetite afterwards
One of the main problems with extreme fad diets is that any weight you lose is, in many cases, quickly put back on, sometimes even with extra weight. This isn’t the case with fasting, as the reduction in food consumed throughout the fasting period causes your stomach to gradually shrink, meaning you’ll need to eat less food to feel full.
If you want to get into the habit of healthy eating then intermittent fasting is a great way to start – simply consume all your daily food within an 8-hour window, then abstain from food for the other 16 hours of the day. You can choose which 8-hour block of time suits you the most! For example, you can consume your breakfast, lunch and dinner between the 8 hours between 10am and 6pm, and then not eat anything for the rest of the day, only taking water, or tea / coffee with no sugar or milk. When it’s finished your appetite will be lower than it was before and you’ll be far less likely to overindulge with your eating.
Your body absorbs more nutrients when fasting
By fasting you’ll find that your metabolism becomes more efficient, meaning the amount of nutrients you absorb from food improves. This is because of an increase in a hormone called adiponectin, which is produced by a combination of fasting and eating late at night, and allows your muscles to absorb more nutrients. This will lead to health benefits all around the body, as various areas are able to better absorb and make use of the nutrients they need to function.