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Spiritual, health benefits of fasting

The above qur’anic exhortation indubitably captures the essence of Fasting and encapsulates the disposition this highly rewarding religious activity guides a believer into attaining: which…

The above qur’anic exhortation indubitably captures the essence of Fasting and encapsulates the disposition this highly rewarding religious activity guides a believer into attaining: which is taqwah, consciousness of Allah (swt).
Fasting includes:
1. Ordinary fasting: Abstaining from food, drink and sexual satisfaction.
2. Special fasting: Keeping one’s ears, eyes, tongue, hands and feet-and all other organs-free from sin.
3. Extra-special fasting: Fasting of the heart from unworthy concerns and worldly thoughts, in total disregard of everything but Allah.  
It is reported on the authority of Sahl bin Sa’ad that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Jannah has an entrance by the name of Ar-Rayyaan which is exclusively reserved for the fasting individuals. On the Day of Judgment, they will be called to pass through this entrance, after which it will be closed behind them and no one else will be allowed to use it.”
Fasting has many, scientifically proven, benefits for physical health and mental well-being.
The time, length and nature of the Islamic Fast all contribute to its overall positive effect.
One of the medical benefits is a much-needed rest to the digestive system. The reduced food intake during the day allows the body to concentrate on getting rid of harmful dietary toxins accumulated as natural by-products of food digestion throughout the year.
Therefore, for the vast majority of healthy individuals Fasting poses no medical risks but in fact provides many health benefits, such as: an increase in serum magnesium, essential for cardio-vascular health and prevention of heart complications; improvement in the quality and depth of sleep; improvement in memory and slower skin aging over time; increased production of growth hormone, etc.
Also, as a general note, it has been observed that underfed animals live longer than their heavily fed counterparts and suffer fewer illnesses during their lives.
In a writeup, Dr M. Kabir az-Zubair said:  “The best of ways and manners are those of the Prophet Muhammad; this fact, I’ve found reinforced in many ways in my over 30 years studying science. It’s good news for those Muslims with scientific bend who sometimes require “scientific rational” to fully accept matters of religion.
“The utility and health benefits of Fasting have been shown numerous times, and increasingly so in hard science. May Allah strengthen our faith.
“Fasting protects the brain: Fasting has been shown to slow aging in a number of species. Caloric restriction acts on many different cell types and tissues and, importantly, also on the brain. There, it leads to a slowing-down of age-associated pathologies, such as brain atrophy or loss of synaptic plasticity. Moreover, in several animal models, a reduced consumption of calories seems to protect against cognitive deficits such as memory loss. However, it is not known whether caloric restriction can delay the beginning of neurodegeneration.
“The mechanisms underlying these observations are also largely unclear. In experiments using genetically modified mice, Gräff et al. found that caloric restriction effectively delayed the onset of neurodegeneration and preserved structural and functional synaptic plasticity as well as memory capacities.
“Fasting activated the expression and activity of the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD)-dependent protein deacetylase SIRT1, a known promoter of neuronal life span. Surprisingly, this effect of reduced consumption of calories could be mimicked by a small-molecule SIRT1-activating compound. Mice treated with this substance recapitulated the beneficial effects of caloric restriction against neurodegeneration-associated pathologies. If this mechanism also applies to humans, SIRT1 may represent an appealing pharmacological target against neurodegeneration.
“There is actually research showing the health benefits of fasting. It is truly a physical purification. According to a study published in the reputable European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers concluded no detrimental effects on health have as yet been directly attributed to negative water balance at the levels that may be produced in Ramadan.”

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