A number of ancient health practices are proving to be effective in multiple ways. There are articles about meditation, worship,
prayers and their physical benefits. The neuroscience now can explain what happens to the brain when we perform prayers.
A research by University of Southern California on fasting
Now, scientists have discovered the first evidence of a natural intervention triggering stem cell-based regeneration of an organ or system. A study was published on this subject, in the June 5th issue of Cell Stem Cell by researchers from the University of Southern California. The research shows that cycles of prolonged fasting protect against immune system damage and induce immune system regeneration. They concluded that fasting shifts stem cells from an inactive state to a state of self-renewal.
Human clinical trials were conducted using patients who were receiving chemotherapy. For long periods of time, patients did not eat which significantly lowered their white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles “flipped a regenerative switch, changing the signalling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems.”
“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system. When you fast, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially, those that may be damaged. What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. ”
Again, because fasting significantly lowers white blood cell counts, this triggers stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells. More importantly, it reduces the PKA enzyme, which has been linked to aging, tumor progression and cancer. It is also noteworthy that fasting protected against toxicity in a pilot clinical trial where patients fasted for 72 hours prior to chemotherapy.
Fasting lessens some harmful effects of chemotherapy
“Chemotherapy causes significant collateral damage to the immune system. The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy.”
Fasting is a tradition that’s been incorporated into many ancient cultures, from Vedic to Buddhist and more. (And fasting during the whole month of Ramadan, the ninth month of Islamic Calendar is an obligatory worship in Islam.) Fasting should not be confused with starvation. It’s the process of restrain from the sensorial experience of eating and at the same time making sure you are doing it correctly. (In Islam, fasting starts from the light of dawn to sundown. One has to abstain from food, drink and sexual relations. On the moral, behavioral side, one must abstain from lying, malicious gossip, quarreling and trivial nonsense.)
Fasting helps protect against brain disease
Researchers at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore have found evidence that fasting for one or two days a week can prevent the effects of Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease. Research also found that cutting the daily intake to 500 calories a day for two days out of the seven can show clear beneficial effects for the brain.
Fasting cuts your risk of heart disease and diabetes
Regularly going a day without food reduces your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Studies show that fasting releases a significant surge in human growth hormone, which is associated with speeding up metabolism and burning off fat. Shedding fat is known to cut the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Doctors are even starting to consider fasting as a treatment.
Fasting effectively treats cancer in human cells
A study from the scientific journal of aging found that cancer patients who included fasting into their therapy perceived fewer side effects from chemotherapy. All tests conducted so far show that fasting improves survival, slow tumor growth and limit the spread of tumors. The National Institute on Aging has also studied one type of breast cancer in detail to further understand the effects of fasting on cancer. As a result of fasting, the cancer cells tried to make new proteins and took other steps to keep growing and dividing. As a result of these steps, which in turn led to a number of other steps, damaging free radical molecules were created which broke down the cancer cells own DNA and caused their destruction! It’s cellular suicide, the cancer cell is trying to replace all of the stuff missing in the bloodstream that it needs to survive after a period of fasting, but can’t. In turn, it tries to create them and this leads to its own destruction.
Fasting in Islam
Although fasting is beneficial to our health, it is regarded principally as a method of self-purification, by cutting oneself off from worldly pleasures and comforts. The fasting person gains true sympathy for those who go hungry regularly, and achieves growth in his spiritual life, learning discipline, self-restraint, patience and flexibility.
In fact, fasting is not just a kind of worship; it is also a treatment and healing for many diseases. It is a renewal for our body cells, it renews our entire life. When we realize the benefits of fasting, we can really taste its sweetness, Allah the Almighty says:
O you who believe! Observing As-Sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious). (Al-Baqarah2: 183).
Moreover, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Fasting is a protection.” (Reported by Muslim)
The aforementioned medical discoveries verify the divinity of the Glorious Qur’an and at the same time, they are additional proofs for the genuineness of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who informed us fourteen centuries ago that fasting is better us. Allah Almighty says:
And that you fast, it is better for you if only you know. (Al-Baqarah2:184).
May Allah guide us all to the right path of Islam.