Friday, September 22, 2006

Science of Fasting - Medical benefits of fasting and beyond

The month of Ramadan: the month of Atonement, the month of Divine mercy and blessings for mankind is coming pretty soon. Depending on the lunar calendar this month is starting on Sunday (24th Sept, 06) in most parts of the world. This is the month when the Final Testament - The Quran was revealed to mankind from Lord. In this month the 1.79 billion and more faithful Muslims across the globe will be fasting in the name of Lord, for the sake of Lord to attain rightousness, to attain closeness to God.

Fasting has its spiritual and religious merits and dimensions. At the same time this practice of fasting which recommended in all faiths and religious tradition also have great scientific and medical benefits that are revealed as advanced medical science is researching on it. A short compilation of the Science of Fasting is what follows:

Fasting - an "operation without surgery"
"Fasting is, without any doubt, the most effective biological method of treatment... it is the 'operation without surgery'... it is a cure involving exudation, reattunement, redirection, loosening up and purified relaxation. While fasting, the patient improves her or his physical health and gains much. But he or she will have neglected the most important thing if the hunger for spiritual nourishment that manifests itself during fasting is not satisfied." -Otto Buchinger, Sr., M.D., Germany's great, self-described "fasting therapist". Read the full article 'Why Fasting' that focuses on medical benefit of fasting here.

Fasting As a Natural Nutrition Therapy
Dr. Elson M. Haas, M.D., offers some very beneficial information about fasting, addressing preventive and integrated medicines, natural nutrition therapies and detoxification (fasting). Read here.

Fasting And Alzheimer’s
There seem to be some mysterious benefits for the brain in Ramadan-style fasting. A study conducted at the National Institute on Aging showed that intermittent deprivation of food can protect the brain from diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

[Mark] Mattson and his colleagues also shared data from research on humans, which shows that populations with higher caloric intakes—such as the United States and Europe—have a greater prevalence of Alzheimer’s than do populations that eat less—such as China and Japan. (From Andrea Useen’s article Why Religious Fasting Could Be Good for Your Brain.)

So how can it stave off degenerative brain diseases? Mattson claims fasting can actually creative new neurons. From his article published by the National Institutes of Health, it reads:

"[Dietary restriction] can stimulate the production of new neurons from stem cells (neurogenesis) and can enhance synaptic plasticity, which may increase the ability of the brain to resist aging and restore function following injury."

Now there was one part that seemed to conflict with what doctors recommend to prevent obesity and diabetes. Mattson suggest that we eat more in one sitting.

"…increasing the time interval between meals is beneficial, even when the size of the meals are increased to a level that results in no overall decrease in caloric intake."

Perhaps both the neuroscientists and diabetes specialists would be content if we slowly graze from sunset to bedtime.

Fasting May Even Affect Sleep

According to Dr. Ebrahim Kazim, a low blood-sugar level can lock the brain into stages of deep sleep. He writes:

"Fasting improves the quality and intensifies the depth of sleep, a matter of particular importance to the aged who have much less stage three and four sleep (deep sleep). The processes of repair of the body and of the brain take place during sleep. Two hours of sleep during the month of Ramadan are more satisfying and refreshing than more hours of sleep otherwise!" (credit)

Fasting and your Biological Rythms is a beautiful article by Doctor E. Kazim where he describes how fasting release special types of tranquilizing natural chemicals that not only tranquil our mind but also elate the mind. Also how fasting positively affects our sleep is discussed from scientific research. full article.

Miracle of Fasting is a very religion independent investigation on the benefits of Fasting. It talsk about how fasting is necessary for the internal purification, how fasting conserves vital force and how it cleanses toxins out. read here.

Healthier Living through Fasting is an article by Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph.D. who is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at University of Louisville School of Medicine. The article focuses on how Science Favors Fasting interms of longevity, effect on weight, lipid metabolism etc. full article here.

Fasting enhances mental acuity
Not only internal digestive organs and others, fasting also enhances the mental faculty.

Perhaps the most instructive testimony as to the acuteness of mental powers during fasting comes from Dr. Herbert Shelton who supervised the fasting of more than 40,000 people over a period of fifty years. His message is that the freer the body is of toxic materials flowing through the blood and lymphatic system, the clearer is the ability to think. continue reading here.

Fasting decreases triiodothyronine receptor capacity by GC Schussler and J Orlando (Science, Vol 199, Issue 4329, 686-688).

Fasting for Health and Spiritual Development
Yoga magazine has an article by Swami Satyananda Saraswati that talks about not only spiritual but also physical development relating to fasting. Along with other issues it talks about fasting and its relation with Somo-psychic or psychosomatic, balancing of the hormones and concentration of mind. (continue here)

A Healthy Fast Is as Good as a Fresh Start
The article published in Buddhist Channel gives an outline how fasting can be seen as a healing treatment that purifies our bodies. Fasting restores the body’s innate self-healing ability that we have forgotten- mentions the article. “Hunger is perhaps the most intense discomfort people can feel. Our bodies recognize fasting as an emergency state. Autonomic nerves that were hibernating become alive, and react very sensitively and violently. They begin to throw away all the unnecessary things, leaving only the minimum needed for survival. In this process, all the waste and toxins are being eliminated,” say Prof. Shin Hyun-dae at Kyung Hee Medical Center. (full article here)

Previous post in Inspirations and Creative Thoughts on Science behind fasting.

[>] For other recent posts on Ramadan visit Inspirations and Creative Thoughts

# Further:
* 11 Health Benefit of Fasting
 
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