Ramadan - “And fast, it is better for you, if only you knew” [al-Baqarah, 2:184]
Allah says [meaning]: “O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it has been prescribed for people before you so that you will (learn how to) attain Taqwa” [al-Baqarah, 2:183]
‘Taqwa’ means God-consiousness. Having Taqwa allows a person to be constantly aware of both God’s all-encompassing knowledge and attributes and a reminder of their relationship and responsibility to God as his creation and servant.
Besides this spiritualal gain of God-consciousness and the positive effect this consciousness has on our lives, there are physical gains achieved through fasting. There is no doubting that fasting has a positive effect on the body. Amongst these benefits are :
- Reduced blood sugar
- Keeps insulin level low which improves insulin sensitivity helping resistance to full-blown Type II diabetes
- Reduction in blood pressure
- An increase in HDL (High Density Lipoproteins)levels – A high level of HDL-C seems to protect against cardiovascular diseases, and low HDL cholesterol levels (less than 40 mg/dL) increase the risk for heart disease
- It can get rid of diabetes
- You live a lot longer
- Are able to lose a little weight as lipolysis becomes a major energy pathway, producing energy from body fat
- Greatly increase the amount of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).Humans with greater levels of BDNF have lower levels of depression. And Increased levels of BDNF improves cognitive ability and the brain is better protected from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases
- Fasting after a brain injury lessens the damage of the injury.
- Brings about a significant decrease in inflammation
- Reduces the levels of homocysteine (amino acid).Studies have shown that too much homocysteinein the blood (plasma) is related to a higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.
- Improves immune system
- Reduction in high blood sugar decreases the aging process. One of the effect of high blood sugar is called Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs). AGEs are considered to be important elements of the aging process; fewer AGEs means less aging. Since fasting decreases the level of blood sugar during the day, it seems that AGEs will also be decreased.
- Cancer protection increases, healthy cells are better protected from chemotherapy
- General immunity seems to improve.
- Digestion is improved during fasting by giving the stomach a break.
- Learning is also improved by fasting
- Exercise during a fast shows a higher rate of fat burning for fuel.
- Abstinence from water during this period is not bad at all and in fact, it causes concentration of all fluids within the body, producing slight dehydration. The body has its own water conservation mechanism; in fact, it has been shown that slight dehydration and water conservation, at least in plant life, improve their longevity.
- The food is much more tasty and fulfilling after waiting for it for a while and you really look forward to it.
Do not negate the beneficial effects of fasting by sleeping during the day and staying awake at night or eating fried foods and sugary foods. Spend the earlier part of the night in prayers and then sleep, wake early for the pre dawn meal (suhoor), more prayers and Quran reading while in the day time.