Most Muslims who fast during the month-long Islamic festival of Ramadan do so under direction from the Quran, but those who abstain from eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours may also experience health benefits as a result.
If done right, those who participate in fasting during Ramadan can not only see a rise in spirituality and giving, but also health benefits such as weight loss and overcoming addictions.
It’s possible to see benefits from fasting during Ramadan because food consumption is often different from usual diets, as malnutrition and insufficient calorie intake are avoided during the religious holiday.
Fasting during Ramadan can help lead to weight loss because the body’s energy is replaced during the eating periods. Instead of using glucose as the principal source of energy, the body instead turns to fat, which prevents muscle from breaking down for protein.
Using fat as energy instead of glucose preserves the muscles, in turn reducing cholesterol levels, helping with weight loss. In doing so, blood pressure can improve and be controlled better.
A study by the Annals of Nutrition Metabolism in 1997 showed just this. Results of the study revealed that, by fasting, LDL cholesterol levels, the bad lipoproteins, dropped by 8%, whereas HDL cholesterol levels, the good lipoproteins, rose by 14.3%.
Such a phenomenon can be explained by the eating and exercise behaviors of those who fast during Ramadan. Studies have shown that people often turn to healthier options during the holiday, which reduces saturated fat consumption.
Such studies have also seen an increase in physical activity during Ramadan, as exercise from the night prayers, known as “tawarih,” may be equivalent to moderate physical activity for some.
Fasting can also help those with addictions. Though self-restraint, another teaching of Ramadan, the body goes through a detoxification process, which in turn can help those who fast overcome additions such as smoking.
By understanding the teachings of self-restraint and learning from them, those who fast may find it easier to forget addictions during the day when fasting occurs.
– Matt Wotus