There are many benefits of fasting and reasons why people practice it. Some are for religious reasons, while others are for health reasons. Whatever the reason may be, it’s important to listen to your body to avoid putting yourself in danger.
Keep reading to learn more about fasting, what intermittent fasting is, and the benefits of it.
There are different ways to fast, in terms of time scales and whether it is a fast from all food and drink or whether some food and/or drink is allowed.
Intermittent fasting is where you switch between fasting and regular eating, and this may be scheduled to be done regularly. There are different types of intermittent fasting, including the following:
- 24-hour fast – fasting from all food and drink for 24 hours. This is physically straining and should not be done on a regular basis but perhaps once a week or once a month.
- 5:2 fasting – only eating and drinking 500 calories for two days a week and having a normal balanced diet on the other days.
- 16:8 fasting – eating at any time during a period of 8 hours and fasting for the remaining 16.
- Alternate day fasting – fasting one day on and then one day off regularly.
Learn about the types of intermittent fasting here.
Fasting allows your body to rest and heal itself from the inside. Your body can focus on removing dead cells from your body instead of having to digest food all day long, and this improves overall health.
When practicing these forms of fasting, it is important to look after your body and not push yourself beyond your limit. Here are some tips:
- Drink water and stay hydrated during the times you can eat and drink.
- Rest when fasting and do not engage in vigorous exercise.
- Eat good food and have a balanced diet when eating.
- Eat foods and fruits with high water content, such as grapes, cucumber, and watermelon.
- Eat nutritious food such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and lentils.
Some Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- Better and improved sleep
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower inflammation in the body
- Time for the body to repair cells
- Reduce the risk of diabetes type 2
- Can help with weight loss
- Improved gut health and function
- Can reduce stress
- May prevent Alzheimer’s disease
Here are some more benefits of intermittent fasting.
When Not to Fast:
It is not recommended to fast if you are:
- Underweight or struggling to maintain a healthy weight
- At the risk of an eating disorder
- Under 18
- Pregnant women
- Breastfeeding women
Fasting in Islam
Muslims fast during the holy month of Ramadan, a time of worship and devotion to God. During this month, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset by avoiding all food and drink during this time.
Muslims believe that this is an act of devotion to God and is highly rewarded. Fasting also pushes the feeling of hunger and causes people to experience what poor and needy people feel on a daily basis. This ultimately encourages Muslims to give more in charity and be more grateful for their blessings.
Those who are required to fast to uphold the religious practice must be:
- Adult (reached puberty)
- In good health
Islam has exceptions for those who may find it difficult to fast, such as those traveling far distances, those who are ill, pregnant mothers, breastfeeding mothers, the elderly, and menstruating women. These people can make up their fasts at a later time when they are in better health or able to do so.
Find out more about Ramadan and fasting in Islam with UKIM.