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PROCAARE: Re: RFI: Ramadan and fasting
- From: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 11:21:30 -0500 (EST)
Forwarded by: Nader Mumtaz <mumtazni@muss.CIS.McMaster.CA>
ramadan is only 3 weeks away.pl put this brief article to answer some
medical questions. thank you. dr.shahid athar
[Mod. Forwarded from BICSNews. See posting 971204111618.]
Medical Benefits of Ramadan
by Shahid Athar, M.D.
Most Muslims do not fast because of medical benefits but because it
has been ordained to them in the Quran. The medical benefits of fasting
are as a result of fasting. Fasting in general has been used in medicine
for medical reasons including weight management, for rest of the digestive
tract and for lowering lipids. There are many adverse effects of total
fasting as well as so-called crash diets. Islamic fasting is different
from such diet plans because in Ramadan fasting, there is no malnutrition
or inadequate calorie intake. The caloric intake of Muslims during
Ramadan is at or slightly below the national requirement guidelines. In
addition, the fasting in Ramadan is voluntarily taken and is not a
prescribed imposition from the physician.
Ramadan is a month of self-regulation and self-training, with the
hope that this training will last beyond the end of Ramadan. If the
lessons learned during Ramadan, whether in terms of dietary intake or
righteousness, are carried on after Ramadan, it is beneficial for one's
entire life. Moreover, the type of food taken during Ramadan does not
have any selective criteria of crash diets such as those which are protein
only or fruit only type diets. Everything that is permissible is taken in
The only difference between Ramadan and total fasting is the timing
of the food; during Ramadan, we basically miss lunch and take an early
breakfast and do not eat until dusk. 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
The physiological effect of fasting includes lower of blood sugar,
lowering of cholesterol and lowering of the systolic blood pressure. In
fact, Ramadan fasting would be an ideal recommendation for treatment of
mild to moderate, stable, non-insulin diabetes, obesity and essential
hypertension. In 1994 the first International Congress on "Health and
Ramadan", held in Casablanca, entered 50 research papers from all over the
world, from Muslim and non-Muslim researchers who have done extensive
studies on the medical ethics of fasting. While improvement in many
medical conditions was noted; however, in no way did fasting worsen any
patients' health or baseline medical condition. On the other hand,
patients who are suffering from severe diseases, whether diabetes or
coronary artery disease, kidney stones, etc., are exempt from fasting and
should not try to fast.
There are psychological effects of fasting as well. There is a peace
and tranquility for those who fast during the month of Ramadan. Personal
hostility is at a minimum, and the crime rate decreases. Muslims take
advice from the Prophet who said, "If one slanders you or aggresses
against you, say I am fasting.'" This psychological improvement could be
related to better stabilization of blood glucose during fasting as
hypoglycemia after eating, aggravates behavior changes.
There is a beneficial effect of extra prayer at night. This not only
helps with better utilization of food but also helps in ______________
output. There are 10 extra calories output for each rikat of the prayer.
Again, we do not do prayers for exercise, but a mild movement of the
joints with extra calorie utilization is a better form of exercise.
Similarly, recitation of the Quran not only produces a tranquility of
heart and mind, but improves the memory. Therefore, I encourage my Muslim
patients to fast in the month of Ramadan, but they must do it under
medical supervision. Healthy adult Muslims should not fear becoming weak
by fasting, but instead it should improve their health and stamina.
KEYWORDS: RFI, RAMADAN, FASTING PHYSIOLOGY, HEALTH EFFECTS
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