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June 8, 2019

NIH recommends occasional fasting during the year to maintain continuity of Ramazan benefits


June 8, 2019

Islamabad : The common practice of overeating, consuming sweets, fizzy drinks, and other unhealthy food items during Eid celebrations can challenge the digestive system beyond its capacity to accommodate the sudden pressure. Based on scientific evidence, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has developed a public awareness factsheet summarising the known benefits of fasting along with some hints and tips to maintain health after Ramazan.

The post-Ramazan tips recommend occasional fasting during the year to maintain the body’s discipline and continuity of Ramazan benefits. By not eating throughout the day, the body’s metabolism becomes more efficient and the amount of nutrients absorbed from food improves because of an increase in a hormone called adiponectin, which carries numerous health benefits for the body.

The factsheet also calls for developing the habit of eating two regular meals a day, similar to Ramazan. The sensation of hunger between meals carries great benefits and according to study published by PLOS One, may actually protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Practicing the 80/20 rule i.e., eating only until you are 80% full is also becoming a health norm. A good way to do this is to eat slowly. Eating on the go or whilst working lead to overeating and hinder the body’s ability to properly digest what is being consumed.Other post-Ramazan tips include increasing veggie content of the food and minimizing the consumption of red meat, fats, spices and fast foods. “Consider taking a Probiotic supplement, in consultation with your physician, to maintain digestive health by replenishing the good bacterial flora in intestines,” NIH recommends, quoting studies highlighting the role of Probiotics in keeping colds and infections at bay while also improving women’s health and metabolism.Fasting also improves mental wellbeing because of its brain-boosting affect. Reduced levels of the hormone cortisol soothe mental stress. Studies also establish the association of Ramazan with increase in the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which causes the body to produce more brain cells, thus improving brain function, the NIH guidelines inform.

Ramazan acts as a fantastic detox for the body; using fat reserves to create energy and burning away any harmful toxins present in the fat deposits. This sets the perfect stepping stone to a consistently healthy lifestyle. While weight loss is one of the most apparent benefits of fasting during Ramazan, a host of healthy changes are also going on behind the scenes. Cardiologists have observed its positive effect on the lipid profile including reduced blood cholesterol, thereby improving cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

“Continually strengthen emotional health by regularly offering prayers, reading the Holy Qur’an and offering ‘sadaqah.’ Researchers have found it to be highly therapeutic for individuals suffering from depression, anxieties, phobias, and addictions. Abstain from smoking and make exercise a priority. During exercise, body releases endorphins, serotonin and dopamine that together improve the mood,” the NIH factsheet states. Abstaining from smoking and sugary foods during Ramazan gradually acclimatizes the body to their absence that helps in kicking off addictions. The UK’s National Health Service recommends it as the ideal time to ditch smoking.

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