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Is fasting at Ramadan good for you?

(RNS) — As a Muslim, I have an obvious personal interest in Ramadan, which this year is expected to begin Tuesday (May 15). The holiest month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a time when millions of Muslims abstain from all food and drink (yes, even water) from sunrise to sunset. It’s a time for spiritual reflection, introspection and community building.

It’s also no small feat, especially in the Northern hemisphere where the monthlong fast at the heart of Ramadan can last as long as 17 hours each day.

As a medical student, I’ve come to look at Ramadan in a different light: how fasting in Ramadan might affect individuals’ bodies.

As I began my hospital rotations with primary care patients, I saw that many chronic conditions that physicians manage are related to obesity, such as diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol. I wondered if they might improve during Ramadan since people were eating less.

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