12 Awesome Reasons To Fast
A billion Muslims fast every year. Not for any diet-fad but because of belief in God Who commands them to do it, "O you who have bel...
A billion Muslims fast every year. Not for any diet-fad but because of belief in God Who commands them to do it, "O you who have believed [in God], decreed upon you is fasting" (Qur'an, 2:183). But all scriptures aside, fasting to live healthier is do-able for everyone.
Whether it be a 10-day water/juice fast or regular intermittent abstaining from food, fasting has become a common fitness choice, popularised by the odd "celebrity" or two.
Over the years of medical research, fasting has proven to be a beautiful solution to reducing health risks if not a cure. So, if you're figuring out how to improve your heart, muscle and lose weight, fasting throughout the year is probably the best gift to your body.
For heart patients
1. Lower Your Cholesterol
Regular fasting is good for your heart. New research (2011) reports that fasting throughout the year significantly lowers your risk of coronary artery disease by decreasing your low-density lipoprotein or "bad" cholesterol.
2. Prevent Diabetes
As your body adapts the ways it metabolises sugars, it is also reducing the risk of developing diabetes which is also a risk for heart disease.
In response to fasting, your body releases more cholesterol to utilise it as fuel source instead of glucose. Why is this important?
"...because the fewer fat cells a body has, the less likely it will experience insulin resistance, or diabetes." Dr. Benjamin D. Horne (Medical Center Heart Institute).3. Reduce Your Weight
Cardiologists at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute found that fasting forces the body to unlocks fat cells which we all know means you lose real unwanted weight, not muscle.
TIP: If you're considering fasting periodically to lose weight or keep the heart healthy, you should talk to your doctor to assess your physical health.
For teens + students
4. Prevent Eating Disorders
Like non-fasting days, eating two filling meals and drinking 1-2 litres of water each fasting day is important to keep the body alert but happy. In our "thin"-obsessed culture, eating disorders affect teenage girls more than boys. By regulating an occasional fast each week/month from an early age (12-14 years is recommended), a child will maintain a good body, value their health and learn to eat the right amount for him/herself.
5. Clear up Skin Problems
Extreme to moderate fasting in a short time-frame can drastically affect acne, spots and dry skin. By depriving the body of its regular sugar/fat eating pattern, your body depends on your intake of 'good' food each morning and litres of water/herbal teas throughout the day. Even the trending 7-10-day water fast and "5:2" fasting regime have helped individuals clear up skin issues.
6. Stay Fit Like The Sahabah (Prophet's Companions)
Exercise is common sense but to keep the body nourished before and after training takes some planning. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink water 2-3 hours before your sport and afterwards to replenish your body.
Muslim Olympians had a real challenge fasting in the summer. Their advice for eating well at the two daily meals (Suhoor and Iftaar) is golden for any athlete beginning to fast.
Photos + Muslim Women Who Rocked At Olympics
At morning meals before exercise eat a a meal with complex carbs (e.g. pasta with meat sauce). Stock up on vitamins and minerals in the evening meals through fruit salads and steamed veg. Iron and calcium are often overlooked so ensure to add some lamb, liver or a handful of mixed nuts for your iron, and cheese, cabbage and fish for your calcium intake.
Tips for Maintaining Your Athletic Figure: Stick to healthy fats in meals like avocado and peanut butter. Eat snacks but only at meal times on fruit or wholegrain bagels.
Download + Free Ramadan Recipes E-Book
For the elderly 'young at heart'
7. Supporting Digestive Function
Your digestive system will love you for fasting. It takes about three days into the intense water-fast for your system to completely shut down but you don't need to torture your bowels like that out of guilt. Just feed your body proteins, raw veg and fibre when you break the fast to encourage a healthy digestion that will work well into your mature years. Provided you don't quit fasting altogether.
8. Protect Against Brain Diseases
Researchers at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore said they had found evidence which shows that periods of stopping virtually all food intake for one or two days a week could protect the brain against some of the worst effects of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other ailments.
"In other words, timing appears to be a crucial element to this process," Professor Mattson told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver.9. Boost your energy
Fasting can increase your productivity - once you've progressed past the stage of dealing with detox symptoms - keeping you more energetic, more enthusiastic, and requiring less sleep.
As fasting improves mental clarity, it can provide you numerous mental and emotional benefits. And many experienced fasters will tell you they find it helpful to fast whenever they need an additional boost for a major project or deadline.
10. Kill Cancer
A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in 2008 found that fasting regularly throughout chemotherapy treatments protected cancer patients against the toxic side effects by shielding the healthy cells.
The University of California at Berkeley also carried out a study concluding that eating every other day decreased the rate at which cells are produced, which is known to reduce cancer development.
If fasting has the potential to treat and even possibly cure cancer, why isn’t this being evaluated more often instead of the latest and greatest drug?
11. Appreciate Your Health
"Health is a crown which only the sick can see". Don't wait for the symptoms of poor wealth to appear, put the effort in today. By your intention to fast you accept to make an impact on your current choices: how you eat, what food you buy and how much it costs the earth. Fasting will not only detoxify your inner, it clarifies the outer.
12. Eat happy
Fasting from food does not mean you're limiting good meals. When you do eat, you'll be more aware of what your body requires and you will find yourself enjoying cooking for yourself, eating for flavour rather than survival.
“The way to approach your diet during fasting is similar to the way you should be eating outside Ramadan," says Dr Razeen Mahroof (Oxford). "You should have a balanced diet with the right proportion of carbs, fat and protein.”For whatever reason you choose to fast, I hope it's what you need, what keeps you happy and healthy.
To our Muslim readers, Ramadan is a month away, start training NOW!
1. Routine periodic fasting is good for the heart; Science Daily (2011)
2. How Muslims Can Win Gold During Olympics; New Scientist (2011)
3. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH); Eating Disorders. NIH Publication No. 07-4901.
4. Fasting Can Help Protect Brain Against Diseases, scientists say; The Guardian (2012)
5. + 6. ISNARE - Fasting studies; 2008
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