Investigating the Relationship Between Fasting and Health at the International Congress of Nutrition
Dr. Nemati, faculty member of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, pointed out that in 2001 only a few articles used the keyword "fasting", and said: “In 2017, this number reached 817, which indicates the increasing importance of this issue.”
According to the news agency of the International Congress of Nutrition, he continued to provide statistical information on international and national symposia on fasting, and finally, mentioned the centers of Tehran, Karachi in Pakistan, and Mashhad as active research centers on nutrition and fasting.
In addition, Dr. Fereydoun Azizi, faculty member of Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences in Tehran, considered the ideal diet for fasting during Ramadan in the same traditional way as Iftar and Sahar and stated: “The best time to eat two meals are before sunrise and upon sunset.”
Referring to studies on fasting, he noted: “According to the results, the level of insulin and glucagon following fasting decreased and increased in individuals, respectively; which, of course, this insulin level is sufficient for body’s activity.”
Dr. Azizi added: “Glucose is decreased in the first days of Ramadan (though this is not a problem), and after about 20 days it is normalized and the body adapts itself to those conditions.”
Regarding fasting lipid levels in Ramadan, he said: "Researchers have shown that the level of HDL cholesterol in people increased after fasting, while the LDL level decreased."
This faculty member emphasized: “It should be noted that consuming high levels of food in a meal increases cholesterol level.”
Regarding the increase or decrease in weight during Ramadan, he said: “Given that part of this issue is affected by fasting by season, during the winter, when the time gap between the Iftar and sleep is longer, people have more time to eat and therefore, an increase in weight happens. During the summer, however, there is not much time between fasting and sleeping; therefore, it is less likely to increase weight.”
The university professor advised fasting hypothyroidism patients: “These patients should take levothyroxine (for treating hypothyroidism) one hour before dawn or before going to sleep (on fasting for 3 hours), and it should be noted that fasting does not interfere with thyroid tests.”
Dr. Ali Akbar Raouf also spoke at the end of the panel on diabetes and Ramadan, and pointed out: “Given the high rate of Muslims’ population growth, which is faster than any other religion, as well as increased life expectancy in the Muslim population, especially the elderly population, who are at risk of diabetes, serious attention must be paid to fasting of these people.
According to studies, more than one-third of Muslims will have diabetes in the future. Regardless of this, the population density of Muslims in low-income countries is higher, as is the prevalence of diabetes in these countries.”
Dr. Raouf pointed out the willingness of Muslims for fasting and mentioned a study conducted in London in this regard and said: “The results showed that 23% of patients did not take their medicine because of fasting, 46% fast by increasing their drug’s doses, and 70% decided to fast by changing their diets.”
At the end, he urged the development of a special guide for these patients regarding fasting, and said: “In this guide, special attention should be paid to the preferences, values and needs of patients.”