Ramadan is a great opportunity to detox the body . We are at a pivotal place in history where we are seeing increasing amounts of research come to light about the immense benefits of intermittent fasting. And while all the altruistic reasons of why we fast Ramadan such as empathy for the less fortunate and stronger connection to Allah are unarguably at the core of the practise, the benefit to self is extremely important to understand if we want to make Ramadan healthier and come out of it fitter and take advantage of the detoxification we are essentially being asked to do by the Creator himself!
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is the month where Muslims all around the world fast from dawn to dusk. It is not only food that one forgoes during those hours but also sexual relations, as well as any negative feelings or emotions. Basically, it is a test of patience. It is a time where one focuses on the spiritual needs of ones body and denies his physical needs.
Ramadan as an opportunity to detox
Have you ever looked at Ramadan as an opportunity to detox your body? Detoxes and cleanses are all the rage in health circles these days and range anywhere from water fasts to juice cleanses and even intermittent fasting (IF).
Ramadan Fasting vs. intermittent fasting
Ramadan fasting is classified as intermittent fasting which constitutes various types of fasting methods. The two most popular methods of IF are the 16/8 method, fast for 16 hours each day and eat for 8 hours and the 5:2 method, eat normally for 5 days and restrict calories to between 500-600 per day 2 days out of the week. This is pretty similar to how we fast in Ramadan and the other is the practice (sunnah) of the Prophet (pbuh) where he would fast Mondays and Thursdays of each week. The only difference, Ramadan fasting is dry fasting where we refrain from all food and drink.
Although Muslims have been fasting purely on instruction from God as a means to elevate themselves spiritually, in recent years research has come to light about just how beneficial intermittent fasting is for ones physical and mental health.
Intermittent fasting has been studied and proven beneficial for the body.
•Insulin levels to fall.
•Human Growth Hormones to rise
•Gene expression of cells changes
•Detoxification of the gut.
Insulin is the hormone that instructs cells to absorb the glucose from the blood that is produced when we eat. When there is an absence of food, there is no glucose to absorb and so the levels of Insulin falls. This then promotes more stable blood sugar levels and thus prevents type 2 diabetes.
Human Growth Hormone
This is the hormone that is responsible for cell growth and regeneration. HGH is also key in maintaining the health of all bodily tissues.
Fasting promotes Autophagy, a process by which cells eliminate unnecessary or dysfunctional components and repair and rejuvenate, boosting the immune system. I talk about autophagy here.
Fasting causes cells to change the genes they express. Predisposition of disease that runs in ones family is often not manifested because of this.
When these changes take place, the benefits to our health are as follows:
1. Decreased risk for heart disease. The different risk factors associated with heart disease such as blood sugar levels, blood pressure and total LDL cholesterol improve when fasting and so decrease the risk of the disease.
2. Decreased Inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation has reached epidemic proportion today. This is the root cause of many modern day diseases such as Crohn’s, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and even cancer.
3. Mental clarity and decreased risk for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Dr. Mark Mattson, a professor of neuroscience in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has said “Fasting is a challenge to your brain, and we think that your brain reacts by activating adaptive stress responses that help it cope with disease. ” Diseases including but not limited to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
4. Increased life span. Although far from being proven in humans, studies show a marked increase in longevity of fasted mice in comparison to fully fed mice.
5. Loss of weight. This would seem almost certain but for the bad eating habits and lack of exercise most Muslims are susceptible to during Ramadan.
I address some common struggles you voiced on my IG stories and facebook group in a Youtube video so be sure to check that out too!