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Fasting beneficial for those with serious medical conditions: international health experts

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Karachi: National and international health experts have once again laid stress on the importance of fasting for better health and wellbeing.

On the concluding day of 7th International Diabetes and Ramadan Conference held in Karachi on Sunday, national and international health experts said that fasting in Ramadan promotes blood sugar control, promotes better health by fighting inflammation, enhances heart health by improving blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels, among other major health benefits.

Fasting also helps in weight loss, delays aging and extends longevity, prevents in cancer growth, and improves immune system, the added.

The experts said that Ramadan is a month of self-regulation and self-training, in which Muslims observe fasting without any expectation of health benefits which come as a bonus.

They added that if observed properly in consultation of Islamic scholars and medical practitioners, training and discipline learnt in Ramadan can last beyond the holy month and results innumerable physical and spiritual benefits for the faithful.

In a presentation, Professor of Diabetes and Endocrinology in Heliopolis Dr. Adel Abdel Aziz El-Sayyed said: “Fasting in the holy month of Ramadan has hundreds of health benefits – both on the physical and the mental wellbeing of people especially those suffering from chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, chronic kidney disease, depression and others although Muslims don’t observe fast for the medical reasons.”

The two-day online conference, organized by the Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology (BIDE) Karachi, in collaboration with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Ramadan and Hajj Study Group and Diabetes and Ramadan (DAR) International Alliance, was addressed top health experts, including diabetologists, endocrinologists, consultant dietitians and researchers, from Africa, Europe, Middle East, South Asia and the United States.

Eminent among others Prof. Yakoob Ahmedani, Prof. Shabeen Naz Masood, Prof. Muhammad Hassanein from UAE, Dr. Salma MEhar from UK, Dr. Mehmet Akif Buyukbese from Turkey, Dr. Abdul Jabbar from UAE, Dr. Mafauzy Mohamed from Malaysia, Dr. Tark El Hadd from Qatar as well as Prof. Najmul Islam from AKU and Prof. Aijaz Vohra also spoke.

Dr. Adel El-Sayyed maintained that there is no mention of health benefits of fasting in the Holy Quran and Hadith and Muslims observe fasting on the command of Allah Almighty but if a person wants to know the health benefits of fasting, they should Google it and they would find billions of answers to their query appearing within a second on their computer screen.

“What is important for Muslims is that in order to reap the spiritual and physical benefits of the fasting, they should observe the holy month in accordance of injunctions of Quran and Sunnah and train themselves for abstaining from over-eating, as well as various other social evils”, he added.

Another health expert, Dr. Ebaa Al Ozairi from Kuwait said there are scores of mental health benefits of the fasting in Ramadan as it enhances the self-control, improves mood and relieves a person of anxiety and depression, saying behavioral changes like smoking cessation is one of the main benefits of the fasting in Ramadan which helped thousands of Muslims to quit smoking and other addictions.

“Fasting in Ramadan is highly beneficial in overcoming depression which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Depression is twice as common in diabetes and could be a barrier to self-management, which is a must for better blood sugar control”, she said, adding that in addition to depression, fasting also prevents many other psychiatric and psychological disorders ranging from distress to anxiety, mood disorders and others.

Eminent Islamic scholar Mufti Irshad Ahmed Aijaz from Darul Uloom Karachi, who is also member of Shariah Advisory Committee of State Bank of Pakistan, said Islam provides many relaxations to its followers in the holy month of Ramadan and those who are severely sick, are traveling, women are unable to fast are exempted from observing fast and added that people must speak to qualified doctors for seeking advice on whether they can safely fast or not.

“Here I want to make it clear that Islam does want people to kill themselves. If a person is in life-threatening condition, he or she should not fast on the advice from his medical practitioner or they can break fast if their health deteriorates. Checking blood sugar by pricking the finger, getting injections or IV drugs does not result in breaking fast”, Mufti Irshad Ahmed added.

Director BIDE Karachi Prof. Abdul Basit said people often ask them what they should eat during Ramadan but he tells them that the holy month teaches us to limit our food intake and donate as much as much as possible.

“People in our country are not dying due to hunger but they are dying due to over-eating, obesity and other diet-related illnesses. We urge people to follow the true Islamic injunctions and follow the advice of medical experts in the holy month”, he added.

During the second day of the conference, experts from Egypt, Kuwait, United Kingdom, United States, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia as well as top medical institutions from Pakistan spoke on different aspects of safe fasting in the holy month of Ramadan while Islamic scholars answered various queries of people as to how they can observe fasting without getting into any kind of physical trouble.

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