Why Islamic Fasting Is Different Than Other Types of Fasting (ref. 7)
The Islamic fast, is different from the above "Diet Plans". It has beneficial features of both plans. Its unique medical benefits are due to the following factors:
1. As compared to other diet plans, in fasting during Ramadan, there is no malnutrition or inadequate calorie intake since there is no restriction on the type or amount of food intake during Iftaar or Sahar. This was confirmed by M.M.Hussaini (ref. 6) during Ramadan 1974 when he conducted dietary analysis of Muslim students at the University of North Dakota State University at Fargo. He concluded that calorie intake of Muslim students during fasting was at two thirds of NCR- RDA.
2. Fasting, in Ramadan is voluntarily undertaken. It is not a prescribed imposition from a physician. In the hypothalamus part of the brain there is a center called "lipostat" which controls the body mass. When severe and rapid weight loss is achieved by starvation diet, the center does not recognize this as normal and, therefore re-programs itself to cause weight gain rapidly once the person goes off the starvation diet. So the only effective way of losing weight is slow, self-controlled, and gradual weight loss by modifying our behavior, and the attitude about eating while eliminating excess food. Ramadan is a month of self-regulation and self-training if terms of food intake thereby causing hopefully, a permanent change in lipostat reading.
3. In Islamic fasting, we are not subjected to a diet of selective food only (i.e. protein only, fruits only etc). An carry breakfast, before dawn is taken and then at sunset fast is broken with something sweet i.e. dates, fruits, juices to warrant any hypoglycemia followed by a regular dinner later on.
4. Additional prayers are prescribed after the dinner, which helps metabolize the food. Using a calorie counter, I counted the amount of calories burnt during extra prayer called Traveeh. It amounted to 200 calories. Islamic prayer called Salat uses all the muscles and joints and can be placed in the category of a mild exercise in terms of caloric out put.
5.Ramadan fasting is actually an exercise in self discipline. For those who are a chain smoker, or nibble food constantly, or drink coffee every hour, it is a good way to break the habit, hoping that the effect will continue after the month is over.
6. Psychological effect of Ramadan fasting are also well observed by the description of people who fast. They describe a feeling of inner peace and tranquility. The prophet has advised them "If one slanders you or aggresses against you, tell them I am fasting". Thus personal hostility during the month is minimal. Crime rate in muslim countries fall during this month.