Our global health systems, that are struggling under the weight of the growing obesity epidemic, is a testament that our human bodies are not designed for a capitalist, consumerist, wasteful way of living. We are, by design, made for moderation and balance, aligned with the seasons and cycles in nature.
A research conducted by The Obesity Collective in 2019 reports that “two thirds of Australian adults are either overweight or living with obesity.” It continues to state that Australia’s obesity epidemic has reached crisis point and is now costing the nation $11.8 billion dollars each year. Almost half of this goes towards direct health costs and sadly its estimated that by the next 10 years, 40% of Australia will be obese (1).
Imam Ghazali’s book Mysteries of Fasting looks at the physical and spiritual benefits of fasting from an Islamic perspective. He mentions a very interesting Hadith from Sahih Al-Bukhari where the Prophet Muhammed (s) is reported to have said … “The most excellent fasting is that of my brother David; he would fast one day and omit the other .” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Sawm: 56, 58, 59).(2)
The narration is about a man who loved to fast asking Prophet Muhammed (s) for his advice on the best form of fasting. Prophet David’s (a) fast, of fasting on alternating days, sounds very much like what we identify today as intermittent fasting.
Fasting on alternating days and intermittent fasting is fast becoming the free and highly effective form of health care in recent times.
Intermittent fasting is where you cycle between periods of eating and periods of fasting. Various studies show that there are sustainable powerful benefits to intermittent fasting on our bodies and brains.(3)
- Intermittent fasting drops insulin levels significantly and facilitates fat burning, most importantly burning belly fat.
- Intermittent fasting facilitates an increase in human growth hormone which has numerous health benefits including muscle gain and fat burning.
- Intermittent fasting induces the cellular repair process and removes more waste material from cells
- Intermittent fasting has also demonstrated ability to protect against diseases and increasing longevity.
The ongoing increase in obesity statistics is also a reflection of the reform needed in the evidently ineffective “weight-loss industry,” particularly those that promise immediate and short term results.
As a public health issue that’s now costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year, more investment needs to be made towards promoting healthy lifestyle habits that are sustainable, affordable, accessible and inclusive.