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Fasting & Mechanism of Digestion

Some nutritional specialists believe that man isn’t motivated to eat by his knowledge of the benefits and functions of food but rather by his pressing feeling of hunger as well as his appetite, i.e. desire, for food.

In other words, man’s sense of hunger motivates him to satisfy his food needs in order to survive, while his appetite, i.e. desire for food, is but a means to an end.

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From among Allah’s Innumerable Divine Favors to mankind is that He has made delicious the food that they eat in order to survive.

This means that man is motivated to eat food by his feeling of hunger in addition to the fact that food is, in itself, delicious and desirable.

Man may satisfy his need for food by syrup that is injected into his blood, but due to the Grace of Allah, All-Mighty, Most Gracious, He has made food delicious and desirable. In other words, man’s desire for food is a means and not an end.

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If man makes his desire for food an end in itself, his body will certainly be disturbed. Due to ignorance or weakness of will, a great many people make their desire for food an end and not a means.

This deprives them of what scientists call “the secret bell”, which rings only when one gets hungry! This “secret bell” is made inactive in the bodies of those who have bad food habits.

The human stomach, as confirmed by scientists, is able to expand and become many folds larger than its original size. Its volume may increase from 250 to 2,500 Cubic centimeters (cc).

When the stomach is made to expand, food becomes an end in itself; and then, one is said to live in order to eat and not vice versa!

Stages of Organizing Food by Human bodyComparison between Endocrine glands and Exocrine glands.

An amazing, yet definitive fact is that the mechanism whereby the human organism reacts towards food makes fasting not only necessary but also indispensable.

In other words, Allah, All-Wise, Most Gracious, has made the human organism react towards food substances according to a regular and well organized process that rigidly follows three stages.

First stage: It is the stage at which food is digested in the stomach and intestines, absorbed, assimilated, and changed into sugar flowing through the blood and other substances used for production of energy and building up of tissues.

Second stage: It is the stage at which the surplus energy is stored in the liver, muscles and most parts of the body.

In light of that, the first stage is that of digestion, absorption and consumption, while the second is concerned with storage.

Third stage: It is the stage at which stores of energy are opened. Sugar and fat are also changed into energy.

The remarkable peculiar thing about this stage is that it doesn’t take place unless a person abstains from having food for a certain period of time. In other words, this important stage of food assimilation doesn’t take place unless one abstains from food!

Benefits of Fasting

Scientists say that the ratio of sugar in the blood begins at 80-110 mg/100 cc, which is the normal ratio of sugar in the blood. But after fasting for six hours, this ratio goes down.

Here a marvelous miracle of the human body takes place, as the brain sends fast messages to the endocrine glands for help and energy supply.

The supra-renal gland produces a special hormone that incites the change of starch in the muscles and liver into sugar; and the thyroid gland also produces a special hormone that incites the sugar stored in the muscles and liver to get out and get consumed.

All of this happens because the ratio of sugar in the blood goes down after a six-hour Fast. Another gland, the pancreas, also produces a special hormone that incites the stored sugar to get out and get consumed.

If man were to consume all the sugar that he has stored in his muscles and liver, the fats, stored in the body, are broken down into sugar to be consumed by the body.

Scientific research confirms that the burning of fats increases during fasting hours, and so does the consumption of fats accumulated on the different parts of the body.

The amazing fact about the human body is that each 1kg of fat tissues needs 3km’s of capillaries through which the blood flows.

This is a heavy burden on the heart, for if a person’s weight is 10kg’s above normal, this means that he has 300km’s extra capillaries that have to be provided with blood by his heart.

Scientists confirm that physiology of the human body necessitates that man should abstain from food for certain periods of time enough for the first and second stages of food digestion to take place and to allow operations of the third stage to work well.

Fasting eases the first stage’s processes of food digestion and absorption, the second stage of food storage, and the third stage’s steps of burning and consumption of the stored energy in the body.

This means fasting is indispensable for mankind! And that is why Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, says, “O you who believe! The Fast has been prescribed for you, as it has been prescribed for those before you, so that you may attain self-protection.” (Surat Al-Baqarah: 2:183).

In addition to the above scientific facts, fasting bears a very delicate significance, namely that it is a kind of worship and devotion that provides man with spiritual enhancement and brings him nearer to his Lord, Allah, All-Mighty, Who says, “All of man’s work is for him, except for the Fast: it is for Me; and it is I, Who shall recompense (man) for it.”Anatomy

The Fast strengthens man’s will and reminds him of his human weakness. In other words, the outcomes of the above-mentioned scientific research by no means clashes with the first and foremost goal of fasting, namely that it is a kind of worship and devotion to the Lord, Allah, Most Gracious.

This is because Allah’s Commands embrace innumerable benefits, both spiritual and physical.

Fasting is a kind of worship, devotion, nearness, reminder of man’s human weakness and need, but, at the same time, it is a fountain of good health.

This article is from Science’s archive and we’ve originally published it on an earlier date.