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Fasting and health

Posted in Personal Health 30 Jun, 2014

With millions of Muslims across the world preparing themselves for the month of Ramadan, this blog will look at the impact of fasting from dusk till dawn on one’s health.

What is fasting?

Fasting is the act of abstaining from all drinks and food for a set period of time which usually ranges from dusk till dawn.

Are there any benefits of fasting?

Although fasting is often seen by many observers as a tough and rigorous act of worship, what is often left unobserved, is the potential health benefits that one can gain from fasting.

Dr Razeen Mahroof, an anaesthetist from Oxford, stated that there is in actual fact a strong relationship between diet and health. “Ramadan isn’t always thought of as being an opportunity to lose weight because the spiritual aspect is emphasised more generally than the health aspect, however, it’s a great chance to get the physical benefits as well.”

Can you lose weight whilst fasting?

when the body is being starved of food, it begins to burn fat, which can actually lead to weight loss and even lower your cholesterol level. Dr Mahroof states, “A detoxification process also occurs, because any toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body.”

However, it is important to note that if you fast for too long, your body may begin to break down muscle protein for energy, which can prove to be dangerous. This emphasises the importance of ensuring you choose your meal carefully both before and after completing your fast. A good diet should consist of both carbohydrates and fat to safely get you through your fast.

What are the risks of fasting?

Whilst fasting can prove to be beneficial, if it is not observed diligently, then many risks to your health can arise. For those who suffer from diabetes, it is important to ensure you take your medication carefully before and after fasting and discuss this with your doctor to help create a suitable timetable.

Furthermore, perhaps the greatest challenge to those fasting, is dehydration. Dehydration is extremely common and occurs when the body loses vital water and salt though everyday bodily functions such as breathing, sweating and urinating. This makes it imperative that you drink sufficient amount of water during pre dawn and dusk meals and avoid fizzy drinks, which could make you thirsty throughout the day.

However, with a carefully chosen meal before and after breaking your fast, and by following the above steps, fasting can prove to be healthy for many observers if done correctly.

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