Why Fasting Has So many Benefits for Our Body?

Fasting in Ramadan.
Fasting in Ramadan.

Canadian singer Justin Bieber and his wife doubt the health benefits of fasting. They consider fasting from gadgets much healthier than fasting without eating and not drinking. Is this opinion right?

In Islamic teachings, fasting during Ramadan can not only bring rewards to Muslims, but also bring blessings to health. Burjeel Hospital, part of one of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)'s leading healthcare networks, states that research has shown several health benefits of fasting.

The benefits in question include reducing the risk of cancer and hypertension, improving brain function, and reducing inflammation. Reported by The National News page on Thursday (30/3/2023), fasting also has long-term benefits.

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Many immune disorders cause inflammation in parts of the body. Doctors say fasting can ease the symptoms.

A specialist in rheumatology at Life Line Hospital in Abu Dhabi, Dr Suresh Kanchinadham, says fasting can slow down the production of molecules that cause inflammation known as cytokines.

Cytokines are small proteins that are very important in controlling the growth and activity of immune system cells and other blood cells. In addition, fasting also causes changes in gut bacteria that can help improve immune system function and aid weight loss.

Then the fasting period is not only carried out in the month of Ramadan. There is intermittent fasting, where it is a diet trend that is frowned upon not only by celebrities, but also has wide support from the medical community.

Dr Kanchinadham said intermittent fasting has been shown to be beneficial in disorders related to inflammation such as arthritis, asthma, Alzheimer's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and even cancer. He describes one of the best demonstrations of the beneficial effects of fasting is in the management of rheumatoid arthritis.

"Researchers have found that during fasting, there is a reduction in pain and inflammation in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis," said Dr. Kanchinadham.

For sufferers of autoimmune disorders there is no need to avoid fasting unless advised to do so by health. "You cannot fast if your disease is not severe and aggressive treatment is not needed," said a specialist rheumatologist at Saudi German Hospital Dubai, Dr. Eman Wagih.

He said, fasting can increase disease activity because it reduces inflammatory substances in the body and reduces fat, as well as inflammatory markers. Dr Wagih then reminded that there are people who get exemptions from fasting.

"People with severe disease and people receiving a lot of drugs and patients on biologic therapy, they can feel fatigue after taking medication and other side effects, so in this situation we suggest not fasting without medical advice," he said.

The importance of a healthy diet

Fasting is not an instant cure for those struggling with inflammation. People are encouraged to maintain a healthy diet to see lasting benefits. Dr Kanchinadham said it is important to note that once the usual diet is resumed after fasting, inflammation returns unless a healthy diet follows the fasting period.

A diet rich in whole foods including fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, whole grains, nuts and seeds, but low in processed foods and saturated fat, is essential for overall health and can help reduce inflammation. "It is also important for patients with gouty arthritis to stay hydrated before fasting to prevent a rise in uric acid and a recurrence of arthritis," said Dr. Kanchinadham.

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