The Benefits of Fasting

17 April 2021

The practice of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan brings many health benefits, especially to ease and restore the digestive system. In fact, caring for the digestive system is important to strengthen the body’s immune system and prevent digestive problems, especially when fasting. 

The digestive system is called the “second brain” among doctors as it is regulated by the enteric nervous system (ENS) which has more neurotransmitters than the brain. Neurotransmitters in the digestive system produce 95% of serotonin, a hormone that affects emotions and is used in the digestive process. 

"Fasting helps control acid reflux as the practice helps lower the acid in the stomach, reducing the symptoms of reflux. Also, when fasting, the pancreas produces less enzymes due to the lack of food, allowing bile juice to become more concentrated that helps when breaking fast," said Sunway Medical Centre Consultant Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, Dr Sheikh Anwar Abdullah

Consuming food rich in complex carbohydrates can help supply energy for 6 hours before glycogen stored in the liver is converted to glucose to provide energy. Energy generation then continues through the burning of fat which contributes to weight loss. 

Consuming foods rich in complex carbohydrates and fibre as well as grains, vegetables and fruits can improve your overall digestive health, not only when fasting. These foods help maintain the movement of food through the digestive tract, reducing constipation. It also helps prevent various digestive conditions such as haemorrhoids and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

During the month of Ramadan, children can be encouraged to fast for 3 to 4 hours a day as early as the age of 5, while children aged 7 can learn to fast the entire day. Parents can introduce fasting to your children for the first time by preparing them mentally and physically, and allowing them to observe the practice. 

Fasting puts the body under mild stress, like what happens when we stress our muscles and cardiovascular system during exercise, it enhances our cells’ ability to cope. In other words, they become strong. Although fasting can be challenging and sometimes uncomfortable, research has shown the benefits of this practice. This is why fasting is recommended.

Source: Berita Harian