Fasting and your health (from UK NHS Website)

Go to NHS Choices homepage      Original article here

The UK National Health Service                on Fasting

Fasting during the month of Ramadan can be good for your health if it’s done correctly.

When the body is starved of food, it starts to burn fat so that it can make energy. This can lead to weight loss. However, if you fast for too long your body will eventually start breaking down muscle protein for energy, which is unhealthy.

Dr Razeen Mahroof, an anaesthetist from Oxford, says there’s a strong relationship between diet and health.

“Ramadan isn’t always thought of as being an opportunity to lose weight because the spiritual aspect is emphasised more generally than the health aspect,” he says. “However, it’s a great chance to get the physical benefits as well.”

Source of energy during a fast

The changes that happen in the body during a fast depend on the length of the continuous fast. The body enters into a fasting state eight hours or so after the last meal, when the gut finishes absorbing nutrients from the food.

In the normal state, body glucose, which is stored in the liver and muscles, is the body’s main source of energy. During a fast, this store of glucose is used up first to provide energy. Later in the fast, once the glucose runs out, fat becomes the next source of energy for the body.

With a prolonged fast of many days or weeks, the body starts using protein for energy.

This is the technical description of what is commonly known as “starvation”. It is clearly unhealthy and involves protein being released by the breakdown of muscle, which is why people who starve look very thin and become extremely weak.

However, you are unlikely to reach the starvation stage during Ramadan, because the fast is broken daily.

Gentle transition from glucose to fat

As the Ramadan fast only lasts from dawn till dusk, the body’s energy can be replaced in the pre-dawn and dusk meals.

This provides a gentle transition from using glucose as the main source of energy, to using fat, and prevents the breakdown of muscle for protein.

Dr Mahroof says the use of fat for energy helps weight loss. It preserves the muscles and eventually reduces your cholesterol level. In addition, weight loss results in better control of diabetes and reduces blood pressure.

“A detoxification process also occurs, because any toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body,” says Dr Mahroof.

After a few days of the fast, higher levels of endorphins appear in the blood, making you more alert and giving an overall feeling of general mental wellbeing.

A balanced food and fluid intake is important between fasts. The kidneys are very efficient at maintaining the body’s water and salts, such as sodium and potassium. However, these can be lost through perspiration.

To prevent muscle breakdown, meals must contain enough energy food, such as carbohydrates and some fat.

“The way to approach your diet during fasting is similar to the way you should be eating outside Ramadan,” says Dr Mahroof. “You should have a balanced diet, with the right proportion of carbs, fat and protein.”

Page last reviewed: 21/07/2014

Next review due: 21/07/2016

My Garden Plant List

My Plants & Flowers Details here

Pictures from 2014

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Currently Growing Indoors

Planted or in Pots outdoors

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Sweet Peas
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Phormium Cream Delight & Phormium Maori Queen

Two different Phormiums that add some substance to the garden.

Phormium Maori Queen

A great middle sized upright red variegated flax, ‘Maori Queen’. With their arching, strappy, sword-shaped leaves, Phormiums make a dramatic statement in the garden. Originating from New Zealand, where their fibre has traditionally been used in the same way as hemp or sisal, they are versatile evergreen plants that tolerate a range of conditions and look at home in a variety of different planting schemes. They have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more colourful varieties being introduced. This one has broad, bronze-green leaves with rose-red margins, and a sliver of cream at the edge. This dramatic, evergreen, architectural plant adds a touch of exotica to a sunny, sheltered spot in the garden. In hot summers, a spike of tubular, red flowers will shoot up from the centre, followed by sturdy seed-heads.

Maori Queen

Maori Queen

Maori Queen
Not long after planting
Maori Queen
Summer 2014

Remember to Do

  • Cut out old foliage as it fades
  • Can tolerate fairly dry conditions (coastal) but looks best with occasional to regular irrigation
  • The leaves fade to cream later in the season
  • A top dressing of Sulphate of Potash will, I feel, help to promote flowering.
  • The plant is hardy although leaves can be damaged by hard frosts.
  • A deep, dry mulch is advisable over winter.
  • Dead or damaged leaves can be removed in spring and the plant will benefit from a mulch of organic matter.

Phormium Cream Delight

Phormium cookianum ‘Cream Delight’ (Variegated New Zealand Flax) – New Zealand Flax cultivar that grows to 3 feet tall by 6 feet wide with bold 2 1/2 inch wide arching leaves with cream-yellow midstripe and green margins edged with red. Plant in full sun to shade. It can tolerate fairly dry conditions (coastal) but looks best with occasional to regular irrigation. Hardy to 15-20 F. It is possibly root hardy below these temperatures but can suffer severe foliage damage unless protected. Also called Mountain Flax.

Cream Delight

Cream Delight

At Time of Planting
At Time of Planting
In Summer 2014
In Summer 2014

Things to Remember

  • It can tolerate fairly dry conditions but keep well watered during the summer months
  • Time to divide plants: March to May
  • Soil type: Sandy, Loamy

French Lavender

French Lavender is an attractive and unusual lavender from hot, dry Mediterranean regions, and best grown in a warm position, sheltered from cold winds and frost. It is not fully hardy, but survives well in a sunny corner or against a warm wall, and makes an excellent container plant that can be brought under cover in winter. It has been cultivated for more than 400 years, and a favourite both for its intense fragrance and also the short dense flower spikes topped with a flourish of conspicuous rich violet bracts, rather like a set of extravagant ears. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

French Lavender

French Lavender

French Lavender

French Lavender

French Lavender

French Lavender