The Health Benefits of Fasting During Ramadan: Medical Experts Share Tips for a Healthy and Balanced Fast
Fasting is an integral part of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. While most people are aware of the spiritual benefits of fasting, fewer are aware of the numerous health benefits that can be derived from this practice. Intermittent fasting, like that observed during Ramadan, has been shown to have a positive effect on blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Fasting can also reduce inflammation and lower the risk of diseases such as heart attacks and cancer. In addition to these physical benefits, fasting can also rejuvenate skin cells, nerves, and organs, including the brain, which can reduce the risk of developing conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
In Indonesia, Muslims observe the fast by abstaining from food and drink from dusk until dawn. Medical experts suggest that a balanced diet is essential to making the most of fasting. Breaking the fast by drinking water and consuming fruit and vegetables before moving on to easily digestible proteins such as beans and fish can aid digestion. It is important to avoid foods that are high in calories and fat, such as sweet dishes, which can lead to weight gain. Instead, foods that are boiled, grilled, steamed, or fried with a minimum amount of oil should be consumed.
During the limited time window to eat and drink, dehydration can be a danger. The Health Ministry recommends drinking eight glasses of water a day, spread out over several times to avoid upsetting the balance of electrolytes. Caffeinated drinks should be avoided, as they have a diuretic effect and can disrupt sleep. Physical activity can be resumed with adjustments made to accommodate fasting. Lighter activities such as walking can be performed during the day, while exercise can be deferred until after the fast has been broken.
Quality sleep is an essential component of fasting. It is recommended that individuals get at least five to six hours of sleep and avoid heavy meals or coffee before bedtime, as they can cause insomnia. Naps lasting about 15 to 30 minutes during the daytime can also be beneficial, as they can help reset organ functions.
In conclusion, the benefits of fasting during Ramadan are numerous and extend beyond spiritual fulfillment. While abstaining from food and drink during this time of year can be challenging, following a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, and getting quality sleep can help individuals derive the most benefit from this practice.