REPORT – The health benefits of Ramadan

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SHAFAQNA - As well as the spiritual benefits, fasting also includes many health benefits

  • Rest the digestive system
  • Allow for cleansing and detoxification of the body
  • Create a break in eating patterns, while shining a spotlight on them
  • Promote greater mental clarity
  • Cleanse and heal “stuck” emotional patterns
  • Lead to a feeling of physical lightness, increasing energy level
  • Promote an inner stillness, enhancing spiritual connection

Physical effects of fasting

Fasting has been called the “miracle cure” because the list of physical conditions improved by fasting is long and varied. Cited most often are allergies, arthritis, digestive disorders of all kinds, skin conditions, cardiovascular disease, and asthma. Because fasting initiates the body’s own healing mechanisms, any ailment may show improvement.

Fasting frees up energy so healing can begin
Fasting is a wonderful antidote for our usual over-indulgences. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying our food, but excess food on a continuous basis does create a burden for the body. When it must handle more than is comfortable and appropriate for it, it will suffer.

Imagine at work how you feel when you’re handed a huge work load–more than you can handle in your 8-10 hour day, more than is comfortable and appropriate for your job title (or salary level). You’re under duress. But you WILL cope. You MUST cope. You must make decisions. You attend to the most important and urgent of matters and set aside those that can wait for another day.

This is what our bodies do when they’re overworked; they tuck things away for another day. Whatever tasks can be postponed will be. And more work is dumped on them at every meal- or snack-time, whether they’re ready or not. This is why fasting is a beautiful gift you give to yourself. A vacation for your weary, overworked, under-appreciated body.

During fasting, we rest our system from the constant onslaught of food stuffs. We usually think of food as giving us energy, so it can be a new way of thinking to understand how the food we eat actually requires energy. Digesting, assimilating and metabolizing–these activities require a great deal of energy. It is estimated that 65% of the body’s energy must be directed to the digestive organs after a heavy meal.

Free up this energy and it can be diverted to healing and recuperation. It can detox and repair cells, tissues and organs, eliminating foreign toxins as well as the natural metabolic wastes (which are also toxins) produced even by our healthy cells.

And this is what the body will do during a fast. It will take advantage of that time and energy to do some housecleaning. The overloaded, overworked system, unable to properly handle all the toxins, has been storing any excesses in the tissues where they can be dealt with later. This is one of the great health benefits of fasting in that it offers this opportunity to play “catch up”.

Fasting itself isn’t necessarily a “cure” for anything. What it does is “set the stage” or create the environment in which healing can occur. Our bodies know how to heal themselves. We just have to “get out of the way”, and this means on all levels of our being. Fasting has a way of rebalancing us on all those levels.

Physically, fasting is of high benefit to the chronic degenerative diseases that are plaguing our population and that modern medicine is at loss to cure.

Mental and emotional benefits of fasting

Because fasting improves mental clarity and focus, it can become a tool in your life to give you greater freedom, flexibility, and energy to get done the things and projects that are important to you.

Many experienced fasters find it helpful to fast whenever they need an additional boost for a major project or deadline, e.g. writing a paper, preparing for a big presentation, getting ready for a long trip. Artists and writers often talk of foregoing food during great creative inspiration; that it helps to keep the momentum going. (Although, beginners must be warned that this won’t be the case at first. Don’t fast for a big event until you are more knowledgeable about your fasting reactions, and you’re sure you won’t get a “detox headache” or such.)

 

Emotionally, you will feel calmer, clearer and happier. Fasters often report that depression lifts, goals begin to feel more obtainable as obstacles are put into proper focus. Doctors have reported patients experiencing improved concentration, less anxiety, sleeping better and waking more refreshed.

 

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between our emotional and mental aspects, where one begins and the other ends . Am I sad because I had this thought? Or did I have the thought because I’ve been feeling sad? Fasting has a way of clarifying those issues. Your awareness can focus in more accurately and determine the source of some unpleasantness, that then snowballed into a mess. Once the source is identified, it’s easy to see how overblown everything else was that came after.

In other words, you see things from a clearer, more appropriate perspective.

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