More to fasting?

All new discoveries and discussions on present Scientific Knowledge and Theories and how they interact with Islamic thinking.
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Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:17 pm

More to fasting?

Post by Anya »

QXP 2:184 Just for a fixed number of days. But if any of you is sick or he is on a journey, he may make up the same number of days later. For those who can go through Abstinence only with hardship, there is a ransom: the feeding of an indigent. Any additional charity will bring additional reward. However, if you knew better, going through the training program of Abstinence is good for you.

You will note that I have highlighted the last sentence in the above verse. Many have commented on the multiple layers to be found in the Quran. And while the Abstinence that is regularly practiced is mostly advocated because it teaches us humility, self-restraint, discipline and other virtuous attributes, an artlcle in a newspaper caught my eye, and had me thinking about the last sentence referred to above: ... IF YOU KNEW BETTER ..... ABSTINENCE IS GOOD FOR YOU.

I quote the newspaper article below, and highlight in particular the features of that article that caught my attention when dealing with fasting (which is only one aspect of absinence):

Chicago - Scientists have known for decades that drastically reducing calories - but not nutrients - can prolong the lives of everything from yeast to mice and monkeys, but they didn't know why, until now.

In a study released on Thursday, United States researchers suggest that the link between food restriction and longevity may be a molecular response to the stress from cutting back calories.

That reaction preserves critical cellular functions, helping the body to fight off age-related diseases.

In laboratory experiments on human cells, investigators found that cutting calories, while preserving the nutrients they need, starts a chain reaction in the mitochondria - or power houses of the cell - that results in the build-up of a coenzyme called NAD (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide).

'Guardians of cell survival'
This in turn amps up the activity of enzymes created by two genes called SIRT3 and SIRT4.

The effect of all this is to strengthen the mitochondria, increase energy output and slow down the cell's ageing process.

"We're not sure yet what particular mechanism is activated by these increased levels of NAD, and as a result SIRT3 and SIRT4," said David Sinclair, a molecular biologist at Harvard Medical School who worked on the study.

"But we do see that normal cell-suicide programmes are noticeably attenuated," he said, referring to the way cells are programmed to die as part of the ageing and regeneration process.

"This is the first time that SIRT3 and SIRT4 have been linked to cell survival," he said.

The fortification of the mitochondria in response to the stress of a much lower-calorie diet can help ward off diseases associated with ageing.

Damaged or dysfunctional mitochondria have been implicated in Alzheimer's, stroke, heart disease and diabetes. It is thought that the common link is oxidative stress which damages the mitochondrial DNA leading to cell death.

Even given the growing recognition about the importance of the mitochondria in sustaining health, the researchers were surprised to find just how critical the so-called "battery packs" are to the life of the cell.

Specifically, they found that even when all the other energy sources in the cell, including the nucleus, are wiped out, the cell remains alive if the mitochondria are kept intact and functional.

"Mitochondria are guardians of cell survival," said Sinclair. "If we can keep boosting levels of NAD in the mitochondria, which in turn stimulates buckets of SIRT3 and SIRT4, then for a period of time the cell really needs nothing else."

Sinclair said the genes could be promising drug targets for diseases associated with ageing.

The study appears in the journal Cell.

I am no scientist, but those of you more knowledgeable in this field may find this interesting.

With respectful greetings,
absence of evidence is not evidence of absence - Carl Sagan
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