Ramzan fasting involves abstinence from all kinds of food
and water from dawn to dusk – roughly calculated to be around thirteen
to fifteen hours of control, depending upon the season. It has been
proven scientifically that fasting is a good method to relax an
overworked body. During the fast, the organs involved in digestion and
metabolism balance inside the body get a chance to rest and revitalize.
The body gets rid of toxins when on fast. People suffering from
digestive disorders often claim relief after a few days of fasting.
Though not proven, but an impressive amount of statistics claim that
fasting also helps in curing, or at least improving bad cases of
diabetes, cholesterol, arrhythmias and arthritis.
This can easily be justified by the fact that the first few
diseases mentioned required a controlled lifestyle for a cure, and
fasting provides just that.
Along with the above mentioned diseases, fasting is also
said to improve the condition of people suffering from hypertension. For
people with a history of heart ailments, the recurring advice from
doctors is a relaxed lifestyle and healthy eating. The amount of control
and patience that a day-long fasting requires is significant enough
change in lifestyle to keep hypertensive people out of danger. I have a
personal experience. My mother is hypotensive (one suffering from low
blood pressure), while my father is hypertensive (one suffering from
high blood pressure – those notorious ones whose blood pressure shoots
at any minor stimulus and they end up in a towering rage). After a
month-long Ramazan fast, both feel better. While my father finds it
easier not to get provoked into anger, my mother also claims that her
head does not reel (a symptom of low blood pressure), and she feels more
active and energetic.
While on a Ramazan fast, people are expected to observe a
peaceful disposition, and refrain from excessive emotions. This kind of
self control is akin to a mild form of meditation that one can practice
while continuing with one’s day to day works
Fasting, when done for purely health related reasons, can
acquire varied forms. Juice fasting is when you just consume small
quantity of juice to quench the thirst, and don’t eat anything for a
day. It can also be varied with just one kind of consumption allowed, be
it water, fruits and vegetables, or boiled food. Various kinds of fasts
in Hinduism follow these variations. Each kind has a benefit of its
own. As fasting is also a part of religious practice in India, many
myths have formed around it.
Exercising is one. They say one would do good to save one’s
energy and not exercise at all while on a fast. However attractive this
option might look, it is not a healthy one. On the contrary, mild
exercise boosts the positive action of fasting on body. Mild physical
work is recommended as long as it does not lead to physical or mental
exhaustion. So, it would be good to continue with one’s daily brisk
walk, or the normal everyday chores at home.
For those who follow a sedentary lifestyle, but are fasting
(for health or religion), it is a good idea to include a gentle walk
into the schedule. It would result in a quicker detoxification process,
as well as give a boost to the spirits.
However good fasting may be, it is not
advisable to all. Elderly people who are weak or small children who have
not yet learnt to control their senses and emotions can forego Ramazan
fasts. Some people with chronic gastric troubles can do more harm than
good with a fast. Similarly, lactating and pregnant women should
concentrate on eating healthy rather than going all the way and fast.
With Ramazan fasts, such people are allowed to skip the fast when it
could adversely affect their health. However, as soon as the malady is
over, the missed fasts can be observed any time..
After the long wait, when it is time to break the fast, the
temptation to give in to all kinds of delicacies is immense. In fact,
eating the right thing after breaking the fast requires a greater degree
of self-control than required to just keep oneself away from food. Now
is the time to let oneself go – but with caution and wisdom for the best
Fruits and juices are the best option. But eating very
quickly can make one feel giddy as the blood would rush to the
alimentary canal to speed up digestion, and the brain might be deprived
of sufficient oxygen supply. So, digging into the food with gusto can be
appetizing, but not very wise. A healthy balance of protein and grains
can be followed after a while to keep the energy level stable. And one
should keep it in mind that the human body is naturally adapted to
fasts. It is not abnormal to fast. And since a body never suffers from
protein deficiency, so gorging in on fatty food and red meat is as
unnecessary as it is unhealthy.
More than a third of the month of Ramazan is
over and I feel a sense of lightness within me. No, I haven’t lost any
significant weight (it would have been welcome, though!) – it has more
to do with a lighter spirit. It does feel good to be good once in a
while – for no reason. Keeping aside money for zakat (the 2.5% of my
annual saved property, or bank balance) to be given to the needy;
minding my manners while interacting with people around me; not letting
anger win over me; and a million other things that we only say should be
followed, but we let them pass, mumbling to ourselves that ‘we are not
saints’. But self control is not a saintly trait – it is very human. I
am better now than when I started at the beginning of this Ramazan.
Besides, for a theist, it is very satisfying to feel that I am being
approved of high up there – and will be given brownie points!