- The Washington Times - Friday, October 13, 2006


Crankiness probably is the worst that most healthy Muslims will endure during the monthlong fast of Ramadan.

In fact, studies that have examined health consequences of the religious practice — as well as fasting in general — have suggested people might even experience benefits normally associated with long-term calorie cutting.

“Most will have absolutely no [negative] health effects from the fast,” said Dr. Sondra Crosby, who specializes in refugee health at Boston Medical Center. “Most people tell me they feel invigorated and energized during Ramadan.”

Even weight loss isn’t a significant concern; Dr. Crosby reports few of her Muslim patients lose weight.

That’s partly because the religious rules governing the fast allow for eating and drinking from sunset to sunrise, giving people the opportunity to make up for meals and liquids missed during the day.

It’s also because the human body is particularly adept at adjusting to even extreme dietary fluctuations. During fasts, metabolism slows so fewer calories are needed and less fat is burned.

But Milton Stokes, a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association, said he doubts a monthlong fast is long enough to have any lasting effect on metabolic rates.

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