Fasting during Ramadan – How does it affect our health?

As Muslims around the world prepares themselves for the Holy month, it may be worth knowing how fasting during Ramadan affects our health.

Ramadan fasting requires Muslim to fast from dawn to sunset as a form of spiritual discipline.

This period of fasting is similar to intermittent fasting and can have various effects on the body, including the microbiome in the gut.

In a study done in 2023, 12 healthy adult individuals were tested for the amount of bacterial genera in their guts before and after fasting. These adults fasted for 17 h per day for 29 consecutive days during the month of Ramadan.

For the participants of the above mentioned study, it is found that Firmicutes were higher in abundance in the gut microbiota before fasting among participants, while they were significantly lower in abundance at the end of Ramadan fasting (p < 0.05). The amount of a less prominent genera – Proteobacteria – was also significantly higher at the end of the month of Ramadan.

So it could be said that fasting can affect the diversity of bacteria in the gut. There are also studies that suggest that intermittent fasting may promote a more diverse microbiome, which is generally associated with better health outcomes as it may favour the growth of certain beneficial bacteria, while inhibiting the growth of potentially harmful ones.

These changes in the intestinal ecosystem can have both temporary and long-lasting effects.

Here are some other effects of fasting on our bodies during the Ramadan period:

  • Metabolic Effects: Intermittent fasting can influence metabolism and the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in the gut. SCFAs play important roles in gut health and may contribute to the beneficial effects of fasting on the microbiome.
  • Weight Management: Both Ramadan fasting and intermittent fasting can aid in weight management. During the fasting periods, the body taps into stored fat for energy, leading to potential weight loss.
  • Metabolic Health: Both types of fasting can improve metabolic health markers such as blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol profiles. This can be beneficial for reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Brain Health: Some research suggests that intermittent fasting may have neuroprotective effects and could potentially reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Inflammation and Oxidative Stress: Fasting, including Ramadan fasting and intermittent fasting, may help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, which are underlying factors in many chronic diseases.
  • Muscle Mass Preservation: One concern with fasting is the potential loss of muscle mass. However, when combined with resistance training and adequate protein intake during non-fasting periods, both Ramadan fasting and intermittent fasting can help preserve muscle mass.
  • Psychological Well-being: Fasting can have psychological effects, including increased mindfulness and spiritual awareness, which may contribute to overall well-being and mental health.

It’s important to note that individual responses to fasting can vary, and factors such as age, gender, medical conditions, and overall lifestyle should be considered. Additionally, while fasting can have potential health benefits, it may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with certain medical conditions or dietary requirements. It’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any fasting regimen.,Ramadan%20(p%20<%200.05),established%20in%20previous%20murine%20studies.

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About Dr Adrian Mondry

Dr Adrian Mondry is a Hypertension Specialist accredited by the German Hypertension League in Singapore. He was previously a senior consultant in the department of medicine at the National University Hospital and Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH), Dr Mondry has more than 30 years of experience in the field of internal medicine.

Dr Adrian Mondry is recognised for his leadership and contributions in establishing the dedicated hypertension clinic within the National University Health System and fast-track deep vein thrombosis service at NTFGH.

Dr Adrian Mondry is fluent in English, German and French.

About Kaizen Medical

Kaizen Medical is located at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, Suite 11-57.

At Kaizen, we provide in depth health care to patients with multi-organs diseases; tackling undifferentiated presentations that cannot be easily assigned to a single organ.

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