Ramadan 2022: Ramadan fasting is considered one of the five pillars of Islam and is a special month for self-reflection, self-improvement, kindness and spirituality. Fasting during Ramadan involves not eating or drinking anything from sunrise to sunset for a month and breaking the fast in evening as part of Iftar ritual. The intermittent fasting during Ramadan comes with its own set of benefits although one should do it in a healthy way to avoid any health problems. (Also read: Ramadan 2022: How to fast during Ramadan when you have diabetes)
“Intermittent fasting during this month not only uses your fat reserves, but also cleanses your body of harmful toxins that might be present in fat deposits,” says Ruchika Midhas, Nutritionist and Dietitian.
“With the digestive system on a month-long overhaul, your body naturally detoxifies, giving you the opportunity to continue a healthier lifestyle beyond Ramadan,” she adds.
Midhas says that according to health studies Ramadan fasting increases the red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), platelet (PLT) count, high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c), and decreases the blood cholesterol, triglycerides, low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c) and very low density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-c).
“When you fast regularly for longer durations, it leads to a metabolic switch and an improved Fat loss and maintainance. Month long fasting is the best you you can detoxify your body, with research also showing a reduced inflammatory markers after a period of intermittent fasting. It is also known to reduce the incidence of hypertension as well as lowered amounts of LDL cholesterol,” says Dietitian Garima Goyal.
During Ramadan fasting, there is a major shift from normal eating patterns to eating exclusively at night. This kind of intermittent fasting (IF) for more than 12-14 hours without food and water is a state where liver glycogen is depleted and replenished, says Dr Meghana Pasi, Nutrition Consultant, MyThali program, ArogyaWorld.
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can be as effective for weight loss and fat loss as a continued calorie restricted diet.
“Restricting food intake during the day can help prevent chronic ailments like high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, as well as improve mental health and wellbeing,” says Dr Pasi.
“Fasting allows the gut to cleanse and strengthen its lining. A self-cleansing process called autophagy gets stimulated where cells remove the damaged and dangerous particles. Intermittent fasting also increases metabolic rate, lowers blood sugar levels and boost immune system. It has shown to protect brain cells and reduce depression and anxiety,” adds Dr Pasi.
Downside of intermittent fasting
“It is not advisable for those having eating disorders, during pregnancy or breastfeeding and for those with medication-controlled diabetes and other chronic health conditions. Further, IF focuses on when to eat, rather than what to eat, which may negatively affect health if the quality and quantity of food is compromised. Hence, it is advisable follow a balanced and healthy diet regime during the entire month of Ramadan,” concludes Dr Pasi.