The Science of Fasting – Updated

A vertical slice through the brain of a patient with Alzheimer’s, left, compared with a normal brain, right. Photograph: Alfred Pasieka/Science Photo Library

While Muslims practise fasting for its spiritual benefits, modern science is only now discovering its numerous medical benefits. For instance intermittent fasting, similar to the regular voluntary fasting encouraged and practised by the Holy Prophet (pbuh), has now been proposed to reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disorders.

Presented below is a new BBC Programme called ‘Eat, Fast and Live Longer,’ (only available to UK viewers- sorry world!), and a Guardian article exploring the neurological advantages of fasting once or twice a week. Finally, an excellent article on Ramadan by Hadhrat Muhammad Zafrulla Khan Sb (ra) is presented, to remind us of the spirit of Ramadan.

Eat, Fast and Live Longer- BBC programme.

The Power of Intermittent Fasting – BBC Article

Fasting can help protect against brain diseases, scientists say

Claim that giving up almost all food for one or two days a week can counteract impact of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s


Fasting: Fourth Pillar of Islam 

It must never be overlooked that the whole of fasting, whether obligatory, as during the month of Ramadhan, or voluntary, as at other times, is to promote righteousness, which means the progressive cultivation of spiritual values.



  1. fasting twice a week proves Prophet Mohammad (saw) practice where he keeps the fast every Thurday and Monday of the each week.

    1. Yes, amazing he fasted twice a week and that’s what’s being recommended now! And remember our beloved Huzur has encouraged us to fast once a week for the persecuted Ahmadis around the world.

      However whilst the principle of fasting is clearly the same and is shown to be beneficial in this programme, remember that this method being recommended is not quite the same. We fast from sunrise to sunset without food or water, whereas here they fast for 24 hours, with water. It would be interesting to see the effects of the difference between the two methods, bearing in mind of course that the length of the fasting days changes as you cycle through the seasons.

      Long- term prospective study needed?

      Group 1: control = no fasting (converts removed…)
      Group 2: common intermittent fasting twice a week,
      Group 3: Islamic method of fasting, twice a week, following the practice of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw).

      And follow for half a century.

      (Maybe we can throw in a bit of honey too to see what happens).

      1. When we explore islamic method of fasting, we also need to analyse Dates and other foods that were available at the time of the Prophet and how he used to consume these food items when starting and ending his fast.

        That would be something different to learn from other then oil enriched Paratha and curry of asain style…-:)

      2. It would be an interesting study if we were to wire someone (or a set of people) up to say an EEG machine and take readings of neuron electrical activity, through the duration of ramadhan. We may have potentially millions of test subjects.


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