When fasting for an extended period, the body focuses on repairing itself to improve health, and there can be visible improvements in people’s skin due to reduced inflammation, reduced risks of heart disease, as well as other benefits such as weight loss. It is one of the attempts to lose weight before considering how much it costs for gastric sleeve surgery, which can be an effective option for long-term weight management.
Weight loss can be achieved through fasting as studies show fasting as an overweight person can promote fat burning metabolism, fat loss and improve blood lipids. This is one reason why many people make the decision to fast for health benefits.
Intermittent fasting refers to fasting that is at certain times. To do an intermittent fast, you eat for a certain number of hours and then fast for the remainder. There is no set time on how long to fast for, but there have been proven health benefits of fasting for extended periods of time.
One benefit of intermittent fasting is improved brain function and overall brain health. This type of fasting reduces inflammation, stress and blood sugar levels, all of which are good for your brain. Fasting is also thought to likely prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Research has found that intermittent fasting can help with preventing Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, asthma and arthritis, but side effects such as nausea and headaches can put a lot of people off. These side effects usually go away within a month at most.
Read here for further information on intermittent fasting.
Types of intermittent fasting
The 5:2 diet is where you eat 500-600 calories for two days each week. The rest of the days you can eat a normal diet.
The 16:8 diet is where you eat for a certain period in an 8 hour window and then fast for the remaining 16 hours.
Alternate day fasting is fasting every other day.
24-hour fasts mean you cannot eat for a whole 24 hours, and this can allow your body to improve health but can be tricky for beginners.
Fasting as a cultural practice
Fasting is a feature of a number of religions; however, the most notable form of religious fasting is Ramadan fasting in Islam. During Ramadan, Muslims fast for 30 days to fulfil their religious obligations of Sawm (to fast). They fast from dawn to sunset and can eat during the night. Like intermittent fasting, this fasting also has health benefits and improves long term health by preventing cancer and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks.
There have been studies that show how fasting can improve length of life, cause weight loss, better mood, sleep and concentration. Some studies have also found that fasting during Ramadan had improved the mental health of Muslims by reducing stress, anxiety and depression.
Some Muslims are exempt from fasting in Ramadan, such as the ill, those travelling, young children, and pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating women.
What if Muslims are unable to fast?
For Muslims who are unable to fast during Ramadan for reasons such as they were sick, traveling or pregnant, they must give Fidya instead. Fidya is paid to feed other poor people. It is around $6 and must be paid for every day that one cannot fast.
What if Muslims break their fast?
If a Muslim chooses to break their fast on purpose when they should be fasting, then they must pay Kaffarah. This is either by fasting for 60 consecutive days or by feeding 60 poor people. This is compulsory for Muslims who purposefully break their fast.