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Fasting can be good for your body

My evenings during the Ramadhan period were more often than not spent longer in traffic as our Muslim friends headed home for Iftar.

I happened to be in a largely Muslim country at the moment so unlike other years when Ramadhan has pretty much passed me by, this year I am little more involved. One of my colleagues, who is a Christian, has also joined in.

See Ramadhan is not just about fasting, but it is also a time of self-reflection, giving, self-change; basically becoming a better person.

However, fasting has been said to have some health implications. To start, breaking the fast starts with eating some dates, which are rich in micronutrients, and provide a good boost of energy and fibre.

More importantly from my observation, and studies that have been conducted on fasting during Ramadhan, there is a much more variety of both food and fruits served during this season, which can promote good nutrition. But where does it go the rest of the year?

A Study in the US National Library of Medicine shows that fasting during Ramadhan helps to lower weight and suppress appetite, improve blood lipids, blood pressure, as well as blood sugar. It has also been shown to reduce oxidative stress and lower pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are known risk factors insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and cancers.

While these benefits are critical, they tend to also be temporal during the Ramadhan period and specific to only those that observe the actual restriction. Further, these effects could be as a result of change in other risk factors.

Otherwise during Iftar, which essentially is the heaviest meal, the variety of food also includes a lot of carbohydrate foods, sugary things (sweets), oily and deep fried foods. The individuals could also eat relatively large amounts, thus getting in the way of the potential benefits.

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