Ramazan and Eid celebrations are over and we are in the process of going back to our usual routines. The human body is slow in adapting to changes frequently. After a month of fasting, the body requires some time to return to its normal routine.
I know we cannot fast the whole year, and I am not asking you to do so, but if we realise that it is beneficial for us we can try to continue to exercise some restraint throughout the year.
Some experts recommend intermittent fasting, i.e. fasting twice a week as a healthy routine. Top nutritionist Amanda Hamilton in the Daily Express writes, “Fasting twice a week can improve physical and mental well-being and fasting this way is effective.”
Sustain the good habits of Ramazan through the year for a healthy lifestyle
Many studies have shown that fasting is an opportunity for the body to cleanse and detoxify itself of wastes and if this doesn’t take place, there is an increased risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. A leading nutritionist Mehak Faheem says, “Detox not only helps you lose weight, it also cleanses your body of different toxins or chemicals that disrupt the functionality of body organs and affect their efficiency.”
As overall consumption of saturated fat is reduced in Ramazan it improves cardiovascular functions, blood composition and blood pressure.
Prof Muhammad Wasey Shakir, eminent neurologist at Aga Khan University, says that “fasting boosts mental health as well as strengthens the immunity of a person while the process of fasting plays an important role in slowing down the ageing process.”
Joel Fuhrman, author of Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight loss and Fasting and Eating for Health, explains that “fasting heals many ailments and promotes healing, chronic skin conditions, secretion of growth and anti-ageing hormones. It is also good for the digestive system. It provides relief from epilepsy, arthritis, pancreatitis, cancer and cardiovascular issues; interferes with the immune system’s activities and auto-immune diseases, improves brain functions thus protecting against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.”
Waking up for sehri provides a spiritual, physical and a nutritious start to the day. Likewise eating breakfast is very important because it is the most crucial meal of the day, as it provides energy to keep you fit all day long. We should follow the same habit of not eating much during the day time as we do when fasting. This allows us to feel better, both mentally and physically. Instead of having a heavy lunch one should take dry fruits such as dates and also yoghurt in the day time to keep our body feeling light and less bloated.
Many studies have shown that fasting is an opportunity for the body to cleanse itself or detoxify of wastes and if this doesn’t take place, there is an increased risk of chronic diseases.
Dr Ayaz, a nutritionist at a leading hospital, says that “dry fruits are very healthy, they are good for the human body and are helpful in preventing many problems such as cold and flu, and many other diseases as well as helps maintain cholesterol levels.” Mary Ellen Sanders, an expert in probiotic microbiology, writes on a blog Fitbit, “By regularly eating and enjoying the foods that contains probiotics such as yoghurt, you are nurturing your own internal bacterial ecosystem and helping the friendly microorganisms to flourish.”
One should make a habit of giving breaks in between meals, the same way as in Ramazan we control our hunger and eat after an interval. The feeling of hunger between meals can be of great benefit to our physical health.
Nour Zibdeh, a nutritionist based in Northern Virginia, is quoted by CNN, as saying, “Taking three- to four-hour breaks between meals will aid the digestive system in pushing any bacteria or waste from the top of the gastrointestinal tract to the bottom.” Time.com quotes Susan B. Roberts, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University and founder of iDiet as saying, “You need a programme that satisfies hunger and has good food so it doesn’t feel like a diet. Hunger erodes willpower, and that’s the reason most diets fail.”
The 80/20 rule is an approach to healthy eating rather than a diet. The rule goes that you should choose to eat healthy food 80 percent of the time, which allows you to indulge in your favourite treats 20 percent of the time. “This rule can be a fantastic way to enjoy the foods you love and keep your weight in check,” says Sarah Berndt, RD for Complete Nutrition and Owner of Fit Fresh Cuisine writing on Shape.com. Melinda Irrvin, a professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health, writes on Time.com, “A person can eat almost anything they want, but the portion size has to be appropriate.”
Gone are the days when families sat down to enjoy a hearty meal together. Because of our fast-paced society, our virtual connectivity with people has increased as compared to our social gatherings, and because of that we have adopted many unhealthy habits, such as TV dinners, which increase the amount of food you consume since you are not watchful of how much food you are consuming.
Having a workout routine is the best way to remain healthy as it helps digest food, keeps your blood flowing and your metabolism working. One should exercise daily to keep fit and healthy. A health expert, Nadine Kamal writing on Productivemuslim.com “Stay motivated with positive self-talk, make good food choices and make exercise a priority by sticking to your workout schedule.”
Man is a complex of emotional, mental and physical health. Mental and physical health is fundamentally linked. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The WHO states, “There is no health without mental health.” Do not neglect your emotional health, rather we should try to strengthen it. Meditation has been proven by researchers to be highly therapeutic for many of our emotional problems.
Ramazan is meant to instil in us good new habits by training us spiritually and it is also a time to improve our health and convince ourselves to eat healthier. It’s really about a lifestyle change and maintaining good habits all year long. Good health maximises productivity in all areas of life. Make your health a priority; treat it as a blessing and you will begin to see the benefits.
Published in Dawn, EOS, July 15th, 2018