MALAYSIA - At the close of Ramadan, I'm sure many Muslim friends bade farewell to the month-long fasting with mixed feelings.
The holy month of Ramadhan is considered to be not just a time of cleansing for the body, but also for the mind and soul.
Individuals who have truly internalised the intricacies of fasting appreciate it so much that many continue to fast in the following month of Syawal, one day after the Eid celebrations, and on specific weekdays for the rest of the year.
People who are practising a fast usually appear more tired and listless than usual, and for a good reason: the body is actually working harder than usual to sustain itself.
When one is fasting, the body system is suddenly faced with various new challenges.
For starters, the digestive system is suddenly relieved of most of its "duties" for the month. To cope with the extra energy, the body uses it for other purposes, such as removing accumulated toxins and producing new body cells, particularly the immune system.
The body goes into a "repair mode", detoxifying the liver, colon, kidneys, lungs, lymph glands and skin. The digestive system actually undergoes spring-cleaning - cleaning the stomach lining and intestines, resulting in better digestion and absorption of nutrients.
As the body is deprived of its regular energy source from food, it resorts to the glycogen in the fat cells. This results in weight loss, which makes fasting the best way to lose weight naturally and effectively.
In fact, numerous studies prove that regular fasting reduces the risks of high cholesterol and insulin.
Not only that, fasting cuts off the food supply to abnormal growths in any part of the body, setting off an auto-healing process. The reduction of metabolism in a fasting individual is transferred into enhanced immunity and protein production.