Mental health benefits of fasting in Ramazan enhances the self-control, improved mood and relieved a person from anxiety and depression
Although Muslims don’t observe fast in the holy month of Ramazan for medical reasons, fasting in the holy month of Ramazan has hundreds of health benefits – both on the physical and mental well-being of people especially those suffering from diseases like diabetes, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, chronic kidney disease, depression and others illnesses, said local and international health experts at a conference on Sunday.
The experts, however, advised people with health issues to seek pre-Ramazan education and medical advice for safe fasting.
“Scientific evidence proves that fasting promotes blood sugar control and better health by fighting inflammation, enhancing heart health by improving blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels, boosting brain functions, preventing neurodegenerative disorders, helping weight loss by limiting calorie intake and boosting metabolism, increasing growth hormone secretion, delaying aging, aiding cancer prevention and improving immune system,” said Dr Adel Abdel Aziz El-Sayyed during his presentation on the concluding day of the Seventh International Diabetes and Ramadan Conference on Sunday.
The two-day online conference, organised by the Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology (BIDE) Karachi, in collaboration with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Ramazan and Hajj Study Group and Diabetes and Ramadan (DAR) International Alliance, was addressed by diabetologists, endocrinologists, consultant dietitians and researchers, from Africa, Europe, Middle East, South Asia and the United States, including Prof Yakoob Ahmedani, Prof Shabeen Naz Masood, Prof Muhammad Hassanein from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dr Salma Mehar from the United Kingdom, Dr Mehmet Akif Buyukbese from Turkey, Dr Abdul Jabbar from the UAE, Dr Mafauzy Mohamed from Malaysia and Dr Tark El Hadd from Qatar, Prof Najmul Islam and Prof Aijaz Vohra.
Dr El-Sayyed maintained that there was no mentioning of health benefits of fasting in Quran and Hadith and the Muslims observe fasting as a religious injunction but if a person wanted to know about the health benefits of fasting, he or she should google it and there would be billions of answers appearing within a second on their computer screen.
“What is important for Muslims is that in order to reap the spiritual and physical benefits of fasting, they should observe the holy month in accordance with the injunctions of Quran and Sunnah and train themselves in abstaining from over-eating, as well as various other social evils,” he remarked.
Dr Ebaa Al Ozairi from Kuwait said there were scores of mental health benefits of fasting in Ramazan as it enhanced the self-control, improved mood and relieved a person from anxiety and depression. She added that behavioural changes like smoking cessation was one of the main benefits of fasting in Ramazan, which helped thousands of Muslims quit smoking and other addictions.
“Fasting in Ramazan is highly beneficial in overcoming depression, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Depression is twice as common in diabetes and could be a barrier to self-management, which is a must for better blood sugar control”, she said, adding that in addition to depression, fasting also prevented many other psychiatric and psychological disorders ranging from distress to anxiety and mood disorders.
Islamic scholar Mufti Irshad Ahmed Aijaz from the Darul Uloom Karachi, who is also a member of the Shariah Advisory Committee of State Bank of Pakistan, said Islam provided many relaxations to its followers in the holy month of Ramazan and those who were severely sick or travelling were exempted from observing fast and added that people must speak to qualified doctors for seeking advice on whether they could safely fast or not.
“Here I want to make it clear that Islam does want people to kill themselves. If a person is in a life-threatening condition, he or she should not fast on the advice from his medical practitioner or they can break fast if their health deteriorates. Checking blood sugar by pricking the finger and getting injections do not result in breaking fast,” the speaker stated.
BIDE Director Prof Abdul Basit said people often asked what they should eat during Ramazan and he told them that the holy month taught us to limit our food intake and donate as much as much as possible.
“People in our country are not dying due to hunger but they are dying due to over-eating, obesity and other diet-related illnesses. We urge people to follow the true Islamic injunctions and follow the advice of medical experts in the holy month,” he added.
Originally published at The News