While Muslims are known to undergo a ‘struggling month’ every year in which they restrict their food and drink intake, scientists have discovered that there are many more benefits to Ramadan than people originally thought.

Intermittent fasting during Ramadan is something that Muslims were told to do over 1,400 years ago, and since then it has cycled every Islamic year for those that follow the religion. While this may help Muslims with their consciousness of God, scientists have also discovered that fasting has mental and physical benefits for the body.

Health problems, such as high cholesterol, obesity and heart disease can be helped by restricting food intake, similar to the Muslims during this holy month, and a protein known as Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BNDF) is also released with fasting. BNDF has many positive aspects, such as being able to reduce depression and anxiety through leaving neurons more resistant to stress, something that benefits everyone – especially teenagers – rather than hindering them.

Fasting allows the digestive system to stop with processing food, resulting in the body being able to concentrate more on removing toxins and harmful substances in it. These reasons, along with cancer prevention and improved blood sugar control, are why there have been many diet-related studies mentioning fasting and its benefits. An example is the Eat, Fast and Live Longer documentary by Michael Mosley, based on intermittent fasting.

Fasting, when done correctly, can be a great help to digestive systems and metabolism, and it seems the Muslims were over a century ahead!