Intermittent fasting: The health trend Muslims have been practicing for centuries

Intermittent fasting: The health trend Muslims have been practicing for centuries
Kitchen staff prepare Ramadan meal orders for takeaway in Riyadh. (Reuters)
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Updated 09 May 2020

Intermittent fasting: The health trend Muslims have been practicing for centuries

Intermittent fasting: The health trend Muslims have been practicing for centuries
  • Its benefits are great to us as Muslims, including feeling for those in need, and it promotes self-control and avoiding the health problems caused by extravagance

JEDDAH: Muslims have been practicing eating patterns similar to intermittent fasting for centuries.
Intermittent fasting has been around for over five decades and there are different forms. It is a popular health and fitness trend, with people using it to lose weight, improve their health and simplify their lifestyles as a number of studies show that it can have positive effects on the body and brain.
It is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It does not specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them. Common intermittent fasting methods involve daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week.
Saudi clinical and sports dietitian and lecturer at King Abdul Aziz University, Sundos Malaikah, said elderly Muslims held onto the habit of fasting twice a week as it was Sunnah (the way of the prophet).
“I appreciate the fact that we’ve been practicing this method of fasting years before it became cool and popular,” Malaikah told Arab News. “Many of the older generation continue to fast all year long because they’ve seen how good it makes them feel. A lot of our grandparents fast Mondays and Thursdays, and it’s part of their lifestyle. They don’t know the scientific health benefits of fasting, they merely follow it because it’s Sunnah and makes them feel good and lighter and I like that. There’s even a two-five fasting method where you fast two days a week only which is what the Sunnah recommends — to fast Mondays and Thursdays.
Ramadan fasting involves refraining from drinking or taking any form of food between sunrise and sunset, whereas in intermittent fasting zero-calorie liquids such as water, tea, and coffee are usually allowed.
Malaikah said that, when done right, there were many health benefits to fasting. It could help reduce excess body weight, improve glucose control, enhance insulin sensitivity, reduce blood lipids, and reduce risk of chronic disease.

FASTFACT

There were many health benefits to fasting. It could help reduce excess body weight, improve glucose control, enhance insulin sensitivity, reduce blood lipids, and reduce risk of chronic disease, says expert.

“People usually say they feel ‘lighter’ when they fast because we’re giving our digestive system a lot of time to digest food and eliminate waste.”
Intermittent fasting was much easier than Ramadan since there was less chance of dehydration.
“However, some would argue that proper fasting as it is done during Ramadan shows even more pronounced benefits since it’s more rigorous.”
She added that the problem was that some people lost all the health benefits of fasting by binging when they were finally allowed to eat “which is exactly the opposite of what we want to achieve.” 
In order for people to make the most out of Ramadan from a health perspective they should eat home-made meals as much as possible.
“Unfortunately, during Ramadan we observe many wrong eating behaviors such as binge eating, buying too much dessert, preparing more food than what the family needs and so on. To make fasting easier, our meals should be carefully planned so that they’re highly nutritious, have enough protein, healthy fat and complex carbohydrates.”
Clinical dietitian, Arwa Bajkhaif, said Ramadan fasting was a time-restricted intermittent fasting practiced by adult Muslims for a whole lunar month every year.
“In my opinion, they both would have similar health benefits if implemented healthily and correctly, since the main similarity for both of them is the practice of abstinence or restriction of food, calorie-containing drinks and or water for a certain period regardless of the aim or the reason behind the fasting whether it’s for religious, spiritual reasons or aiming for losing weight,” Bajkhaif told Arab News.
She said there was no ideal number of hours for intermittent fasting when it came to weight loss advantage but that practicing was worth a try.
“Unfortunately, currently, there is not enough evidence for us to neither generalize what the ideal number of fasting hours nor to tell whether intermittent fasting is a sustainable treatment for obesity as well as if it’s health-related benefits are maintained for a long time. But it’s still worth trying.”
She said many people found intermittent fasting to be more flexible than strict calorie counting and that, since there was a certain eating window and less time for eating was required, less planning was required too. By eating fewer and burning more calories, intermittent fasting caused weight loss by changing both sides of the calorie equation. Ramadan fasting could be an effective approach for weight loss as well as for diabetes and disease prevention. Bajkhaif warned that intermittent fasting was not recommended for children, teens, people on medication that required food intake, diabetic patients, those with eating disorders, pregnant and breastfeeding women.
She said Islam was a great teacher for every Muslim. “It prompts us to avoid many problems before they happen. Its benefits are great to us as Muslims, including feeling for those in need, and it promotes self-control and avoiding the health problems caused by extravagance. Our religion also urges us to take care of our health — that is one of God’s blessings on us — and this is an individual responsibility of all Muslims,” she added.


Fraudsters up their game, posing as bank officials on the phone in Saudi Arabia

Fraudsters up their game, posing as bank officials on the phone in Saudi Arabia
Vishing that occurs during a telephone call aims to provoke fear in the victim so that customers will be more susceptible to giving out personal, financial, or security details. (shutterstock)
Updated 18 January 2021

Fraudsters up their game, posing as bank officials on the phone in Saudi Arabia

Fraudsters up their game, posing as bank officials on the phone in Saudi Arabia
  • The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has warned bank customers, both citizens and expatriates, not to fall victim to financial frauds being perpetrated by scammers

JEDDAH: Fraudsters have developed a new scam, contacting residents in Saudi Arabia and pretending to be bank staffers requesting customer details.
A number of Arab News staff have received such calls in recent weeks. One caller spoke Urdu while two other callers posing as senior officials from the headquarters of the bank spoke in English and Arabic with a local accent.
They used phone numbers that appeared to be local numbers but upon calling back, the lines failed to connect.
The racketeers collect phone numbers of customers and ring them up, saying that their bank account or ATM card requires immediate updating. The scammers use the information provided to gain access to their bank accounts.
Speaking to Arab News, Talat Zaki Hafiz, secretary-general of the Media and Banking Awareness Committee of Saudi banks, said: “Saudi banks represented by the Media and Banking Awareness Committee have repeatedly warned bank customers not to react to stray phone calls of any kind coming from unknown sources that ask to update their banking record or personal information.” He further confirmed that banks do not request such information through phone calls or SMS messages.
Mohammed Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at the King Saud University in Riyadh, told Arab News: “Phishing, an online scam which targets users through emails where individuals are encouraged to click on a link that takes them to fraudulent sites, was troubling people. Now it’s a different kind of scam known as ‘vishing,’ over-the-phone phishing, where scammers persuade users to share their banking information by impersonating a bank official.”

HIGHLIGHT

The racketeers collect phone numbers of customers and ring them up, saying that their bank account or ATM card requires immediate updating. The scammers use the information provided to gain access to their bank accounts.

Vishing that occurs during a telephone call aims to provoke fear in the victim so that customers will be more susceptible to giving out personal, financial, or security details.
Sharing his experience Zafar Hasan, an e-learning consultant in Riyadh, said: “I received a call from someone on an unknown mobile number who introduced himself as a bank employee and told me that my ATM card was going to be blocked. It required an immediate update so I should give my Iqama number (residence permit number) and sixteen-digit ATM card number. I felt something was fishy, so I told him that I would go personally to the bank to update the card.”
The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has warned bank customers, both citizens and expatriates, not to fall victim to financial frauds being perpetrated by scammers.
SAMA called on bank customers to take information only from the official channels of the bodies regulating the Kingdom’s financial and investment sectors and inform the competent security authorities about such fraudulent attempts.