Ramadan 2021: What happens to your body when you fast?
"Fasting has positive effects on mental health too," said Dr Salama Mohamed Al Hosani.
Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan boosts the immune system which in turn protects the body against infections, a Abu Dhabi medical expert said.
“As we consider the influence of Covid-19 on Ramadan this year, we can also consider the effects of fasting on keeping fit and safe, as well as how it affects the immune system,” said Dr Salama Mohamed Al Hosani, specialist physician, health operations management, headquarter division, Ambulatory Healthcare Services Company (SEHA).
“When we begin to fast, the body initially breaks down a number of immune-fighting white blood cells. It instinctively knows to start saving energy and one way it does this is by killing off old or damaged immune system cells. It adjusts and triggers the regeneration of new cells, therefore increasing the number of immune-boosting cells,” she added.
“When a fast lasts for 14 hours a day or more, the cells in the body that support the immune response and which attack invading pathogens, leave the blood stream as the nutrient content becomes low and migrate to the bone marrow, which is nutrient dense, where they begin to regenerate and become supercharged.
“As a result they protect the body from infection,” she said.
Dr Salama pointed said fasting has positive effects on mental health too. “Fasting can help lift your spirits. While it may seem difficult at first, higher levels of endorphins are released after a few days when the body has adjusted to the new eating and drinking routine, providing a boost to mental health,” she revealed.
Dr Salama stressed on balanced food choices while ending a fast. “When a fast is broken, meals should consist of items from all food groups. This will allow the body to transition to burning fat for energy sources, instead of glucose. This helps the body retain any muscle mass and maintain a steady weight. A well-balanced diet can also help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels, making diabetes and high blood pressure easier to handle. Drinking plenty of water is also important for staying hydrated and feeling energised. It can also prevent you from overeating,” she said.
Dr Salama stressed that a balanced diet must include essential vitamins and nutrients, as it can boost immunity and provide support in the battle against illnesses. “Consuming the wrong foods will weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to germs and viruses,” she said.
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