Outside the Muslim Community, very few know of Ramadan. Ramadan (also known as Ramadhan or Ramzan) is the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar. During this period, it is not only that the eating pattern of millions of adult Muslims all over the world gets greatly altered, as the refrain from food and fluids during the daylight hours, but the kind of food eaten after sunset is also significantly richer in fat and protein than which is usually consumed during the rest of the year. Fasting the whole month long has proven to be excellent for one’s health and personal improvement. We shall know how.
When the body is starved of food, it starts breaking down muscle protein for energy, which is unhealthy. However, you would be surprised to know that during Ramadan, we do not reach the stage of starvation. In the normal state, our body utilises body glucose stored in the liver and muscles as the main source of energy. Fat becomes the next source. Only once the body runs out of both body glucose and fat, than the body starts stealing muscle protein for energy. This is the technical description of what is commonly known as ‘starvation’. As the Ramadan fast is broken daily after sunset, the body’s energy is replaced every night, leaving a fine trace of fat usage and preventing protein breakdown. Thus, this month long fasting becomes a healthy, natural weight-loss regime in disguise. It preserves our muscles and reduces our cholesterol level.
By not eating or drinking throughout the day for one whole month, our body is offered the rare chance to detoxify our digestive system: when our body starts burning down fat reserves to create energy, it also burns away harmful toxins deposited in the fat. This is how Ramadan fasting detoxifies our body.
After a few days of Ramadhan fast, we would find ourselves being more alert and focused. This is because of the higher levels of endorphins that appear in the blood. The Ramadhan practice enkindles an euphoric feeling, which can be seen in increased energy and performance level. Ramadan also increases the level of neurotrophic factor, which causes the body to produce more brain cells, thus improving brain function. The stress hormone cortisol is greatly reduced during this season.
A yet another hormone called adiponectin, is produced by a combination of fasting and nocturnal activity. It allows our muscles to absorb more nutrients than usual. This increases our body’s nutrient absorbent capacity.
A balanced food and fluid intake is important between fasts. Our kidneys are very efficient at retaining the body’s water and salts, such as sodium and potassium. Thus eating sodium-potassium rich food is advised. To prevent muscle breakdown, meals must contain enough energy food, such as carbohydrates and some fat.
Though, Ramadan is a time of deep reflection and a month of mercy, forgiveness and salvation, the health benefits that come with fasting can not be ignored. It improves our body functions and enhances our health.