For almost a week, Muslims around the world have been fasting and since this year's Ramadan coincides with summer, people in some parts of the world are fasting up to 22 hours every day. In Turkey, the fasting lasts almost 17 hours, which is extra hard in the summer heat. But how people can manage that? Is it healthy to not eat for so long?First of all, fasting is one of the pillars of Islam and one of the most spiritual events for Muslims. During Ramadan, Muslims feel closer to God and go through a spiritual rejuvenation.
Fasting and the holy month of Ramadan also unite people socially. People gather around a single table for the meals of iftar, to break their fast, and sahur, to start fasting for the day. Mutual awareness and sympathy between people increases and charity work takes center stage. During fasting hours, people empathize with the lives of the poor and underprivileged, help them as much as they can and continue this charity work throughout the year.
Apart from its benefits for spiritual cleansing, fasting also has physical benefits that help your body detoxify your system.
What happens to the body when fasting?
The hardest part of a month-long fast is the first couple of days as the body tries to adjust to the long hours of hunger. During this time, the body supplies energy from the blood sugar stored in the liver.As your body goes into "battery save mode," your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, becomes more efficient and uses less energy. This power saving process includes lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. At this stage, you may feel drained. However, if you stick to it, some of that lost energy will return.
After the first days, you begin to feel more energetic as the body goes into ketosis, a normal, metabolic state where you burn stored body fat for fuel instead of glucose. During this phase, you feel less tired and hungry and start to see the benefits of fasting in your body as fat cells are put to use.
The period between the second and the third week of fasting is the most crucial as the faster sees dramatic improvements in mood and mental clarity.
Throughout the year, people eat more than they should and most of the time, it is not food that benefits the body.
During the third phase of fasting, your body starts to enter a "healing mode." This healing process begins as your digestive system is able to rest in the absence of common stressors and toxins it normally endures on a daily basis. You began to shed the toxins accumulated throughout the year.
During the last two weeks, the faster begins to feel healthier and more alert.
When the month of Ramadan comes to an end, most people return to their regular eating habits and to their unhealthy state before the fast. The goal is to keep the eating habits that you maintained during Ramadan and apply them to the rest of the year.
Experts advise fasting off and on throughout the year. The most common fasting diet is to eat healthy food five days a week and fasting for the remaining two to keep your body and mind in shape.