KAMPALA – Ramadan 2019 has begun Monday, May 6, in most countries marking the holiest month in the Islamic Lunar Calendar.
The Month involves abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking, sexual relations and other immoral acts from dawn to sunset, in the hopes that it will lead to greater “taqwa”, or consciousness of God.
In this holy period, Muslims usually engage in acts of worship such as prayer, reading the Quran and charity.
Spiritual benefits of fasting
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam which prescribes fasting for all Muslims who are mature and healthy enough to do so for the full day.
It is a special act of worship which is only between humans and God as it says in a Hadith Qudsi that “Fasting is for Me and I only will reward it”.
In another hadith, Prophet Mohammad said, “If one does not give up falsehoods in words and actions, then he has no need of giving up food and drink.”
Muslims therefore fast as an act of worship, a chance to get closer to God and one of the odd nights in the last 10 days of Ramadan is called the night of power when angels descend down and take the prayer of worship to God for acceptance.
Fasting is also seen as a way to learn patience, break bad habits and a way to become more compassionate to those in need.
Health tips and benefits of fasting
While Muslims start Ramadhan, fasting can take a toll on the body, especially if you are not ready. Energy levels and appetites deplete by the end of the month.
Health officials recommend an increase in fluid intake during the non-fasting hours, ensure eating a balanced healthy diet and take the Suhoor meal as late as possible before the start of the fasting.
With the weather getting hotter, there is a need to make sure to drink enough water.
Direct exposure to the sun, especially between 12 PM and 4 PM should also be avoided. Fasting can make you tired and fatigued.
With the fasting day from sunrise to sunset, the body’s energy can be replaced in these two meals.
It is important to get in food from all five major food groups (carbohydrates, protein, milk, fruits and vegetables, fats), and this will provide an easier transition from using fat to burn energy as opposed to glucose.
This can also help in a healthy way of losing weight, can help preserve muscles, lower cholesterol levels, and can help control being had over diabetes and blood pressure.
Muslims who fast should avoid overly greasy and deep-fried foods, instead opting for baking, grilling and shallow frying. Opening the fast with dates and sweet, milky drinks is common in many households which provide the much-needed energy boost.
Experts also found out if fasting is done in a healthy manner; there is enough evidence to suggest that it has a positive effect on your health. By following simple healthy habits, people can reap the benefits of good health.
That restricting food intake during the day can help prevent health problems such as high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity and reduced risk of some cancers.
Improved sleep and good mental health and wellbeing are among the other proven benefits of fasting.
By not consuming any food, our body is able to concentrate on removing toxins, as we give the digestive system a rest.
Nutritionists say “Fasting allows the gut to cleanse and strengthens its lining. It can also stimulate a process called autophagy, which is where cells self-cleanse and removes damaged and dangerous particles.”
Many people who have embraced fasting have also found that done properly, it has helped them lose fat and gain lean muscle mass.
Happy Ramadhan to all Muslims.