Scientists have studied the effects of fasting on the body and found that the intake of food increases the body’s metabolism. After fasting, metabolism can become as much as 22 per cent lower than the normal rate. But research also has shown that after long periods of fasting, the body tends to adjust itself by lowering the rate of metabolism itself. After fasting, a person should gradually resume eating.
In some studies performed on fasting Muslims and Muslimah, it was observed that there was a slight loss of weight both in the males and the females. Their blood glucose levels increased significantly. Other parameters such as blood levels of cortisol, testosterone, Na, K, urea, total cholesterol, HDL (high density lipoprotein), LDL (low density lipoprotein), TG (triglycerides) and serum osmolality did not show notable variations.
Another study performed about a decade ago in Iran showed that sporadic restraint from food and drink for about 17 hours a day for 30 days does not alter male reproductive hormones, HPTA (hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis) or peripheral metabolism of thyroid hormones. Any changes noticed return to normal four weeks after fasting.
A recent study on “Increased fat oxidation during Ramadan fasting in healthy women: an adaptive mechanism for body-weight maintenance” was performed by Drs. Jalila El Ati, et al, published in the Am. J. Clin. Nutri. August 1995. In this study possible effects of Ramadan fasting on anthropometric and metabolic variables were investigated in healthy Tunisian Muslim women. Total daily energy intake remained unchanged whereas the qualitative components of nutrients were markedly affected. Neither body weight nor body composition were influenced by Ramadan fasting. Results also indicate the concomitant decrease of plasma insulin concentrations with respiratory and energy expenditure during Ramadan.
Fat oxidation was increased and carbohydrate oxidation was decreased during the light span of the nycthemeron. In non-Muslim countries such as the United States the physicians particularly the Family Physicians and Internists should be aware of changes of glucose and bilirubin during the month of Ramadan.
(Thanks to Bro Ibrahim B. Sayed)