Fasting benefits us in more specific ways than we knew. Baylor College of Medicine (BMC) researchers conducted a pilot study with a small group of healthy Muslims fasting on the month of Ramadan. The participants fasted – not eating or drinking anything for 15 hours straight – from dawn to sunset each day for 30 days. Blood samples were the taken: before the fasts, during the fourth week of Ramadan and a week after the fasting period ended.
Fasting Benefits of a Month
Full-month fasting in Ramadan is found to reduce risk to diabetes and obesity.
Fasting Benefits of 3 days continuously in a Month
Monthly 3 days fasting is an anti-aging practice. It spikes your immune system and generates new cells.
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “Fasting is a shield.”
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahou ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Observing Saum (fasting) on three days of every month is equivalent to a full month’s fasting.”
What did the researchers find?
Elevated levels of tropomyosin 1, 3 and 4 – the proteins supporting the health of cells associated with the body’s response to insulin. Tropomyosins also helped repair any damage to those cells.
Higher levels of these proteins increase insulin effectiveness — making it easier for cells to obtain glucose from the blood for energy. By improving insulin sensitivity, tropomyosins help reduce the intensity of insulin resistance. The pancreas does not have to overwork to produce the metabolic hormone. This has the effect of controlling the occurrence of metabolic disorders like diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity caused mostly by unhealthy diet practices of bad fats and sugars.
In a study by the University of Southern California (1), cycles of prolonged fasting is shown to regenerate the immune system and also protect it against damage (major side effect of chemotherapy). Stem cells shift from a dormant state to self-renewal, regenerating the immune system.
No wonder then, the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) said, “Fasting is a shield.” It is a shield against breakdown and disease.
Prolonged fasting also protected against toxicity in a pilot clinical trial in which a small group of patients fasted for 72 hours before undergoing chemotherapy. It was also found to lower levels of IGF-1, a growth-factor hormone that the researchers have linked to aging, tumor progression and the risk of cancer.
How long is a prolonged fast?
The researchers outline prolonged fasting cycles as periods of no food for two to four days at a time over the course of six months. Older and damaged immune cells are killed and new ones generated. This induces healthier aging, in which improvements to the immune system reduces susceptibility to disease as people age.
Fasting alone is scientifically-proven proven thus, to activate natural processes in the body that improve and support a person’s overall health. Without the help of chemical drugs. In Islam, there is the compulsory fasting in the month of Ramadan, and the optional but highly-recommended three days in a row fasting in the middle of every lunar month, and fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, which is twice a week.
Fasting is not peculiar to the followers of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) alone. Past prophets like Adam (a.s) and Nuh / Noah Daud (a.s) were said to fast 3 days every month, according to Muslim historian Ibn Kathir. Prophet Daud / David (a.s) fasted on alternate days. Prophets Abraham, Ishmael, Yakub / Jacob and Isa /Jesus a.s. were also fasting practitioners.