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Ramadan: Top 10 Health Benefits of Fasting

Ramadan: Top 10 Health Benefits of Fasting

When we talk about Ramadan and “fasting”, we are referring to abstinence from all or some food and drink for a specific period of time. Although popularized by today’s diets, the practice of fasting dates back centuries and is considered one of medicine’s oldest therapies.

Whether it’s abstaining from eating and drinking or adopting a lighter, lower-calorie diet, many say that going without food for a period of time is a practice that our body is adapted.

This practice is also called “intermittent fasting” or “time-restricted eating”; both terms refer to eating patterns that increase the length of time the body is in a fasting state. This state is achieved by reducing your “eating window”, i.e. the time during which you eat.

1. Promotes hormones and genes that influence metabolism

When you haven’t eaten for a while, your body adapts by changing hormone levels to make stored body fats more accessible and initiate repair processes. There is also a change in gene expression that increases your muscles’ ability to use fat.

2. May Promote Weight Loss

Studies show that controlling meal times – or short-term fasts – can help with weight reduction, fat loss and improved blood lipids.

3. Promotes blood sugar management

Several studies support the use of fasting as a way to improve blood sugar control and potentially reduce the risk of diabetes, although gender may play a role and more studies are needed.

For people with type 2 diabetes, the benefits of intermittent fasting include lowering fasting blood sugar and insulin, reducing insulin resistance, and lowering the hormone levels. appetite, leptin.

4. Promote Gut Health

Studies suggest that another benefit of fasting is its positive impact on the diversity and number of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This appears to have a beneficial effect on weight change, waist circumference and metabolism.

5. Promotes heart health

Studies suggest that intermittent fasting may reduce some of the risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure, cholesterol, and markers of inflammation.

6. May Help Prevent Disease

Easing dietary habits appears to give the body time to focus on other important functions, including disease prevention. Indeed, when we fast, the body triggers a process called autophagy. This process is similar to “housekeeping” of the body, which consists of eliminating waste from the cells.

Autophagy is thought to improve the body’s ability to manage chronic inflammation and, therefore, reduce the risk of diseases such as heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

7. May delay aging and promote growth and metabolism

Fasting, and particularly adopting a low-protein diet, has been associated with increased life expectancy in animal studies.

Fasting appears to promote levels of human growth hormone, a hormone that plays an important role in growth and repair, metabolism, weight loss, muscle strength and exercise performance.

Current research on longevity is largely limited to animals, so additional studies are needed to fully understand the impact of this phenomenon on human aging.

8. Can reset your circadian rhythm

Studies suggest that intermittent fasting directly influences the gut microbiome, leading to changes in the levels of chemicals called metabolites, which act as signaling molecules for our central body clock. So, fasting can help reset our circadian rhythm and be beneficial for diseases like obesity that are associated with a dysregulation of the body clock.

9. May Support Brain Functions

Animal studies suggest that fasting may protect against and improve outcomes from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as improve brain function by supporting memory and brain processing. Likewise, animal studies suggest that fasting may protect brain health and increase nerve cell production.

Further research is needed to determine whether fasting is relevant to humans and whether age and body weight, as well as intake of specific nutrients, may trump fasting.

10. May Reduce Anxiety

Human studies indicate that fasting can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve social bonding. Further studies are needed to evaluate these effects, but the results obtained to date are encouraging.

Is fasting safe for everyone?

Fasting is not suitable for everyone. It is advisable to consult your GP or healthcare professional before starting a new diet, particularly if you are under 18, if you are elderly, if you have a pre-existing condition (diabetes, high blood pressure , kidney stones or gastric reflux) or if you are taking medication. Fasting is not recommended for people who are underweight, suffering from or recovering from an eating disorder, pregnant or breastfeeding.

For women of childbearing age, it is best to fast during the follicular phase (beginning) of the menstrual cycle.

Should I Consider Intermittent Fasting?

Studies suggest that fasting is safe and effective for most people, but is probably no more effective, from a weight loss perspective, than other forms of diet.

If you decide to try fasting, limit the times of day you eat and ideally eat earlier rather than later (try to eat within the first 6-8 hours after waking up). Remember that the quantity and quality of foods you eat during your fasting period are crucial. So try to eat a varied and balanced diet including whole grains, fruits, vegetables and a variety of lean proteins.

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