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Modern medicine and fasting


First of all, I would like to start with “Ramadan Kareem” to all whom fast during this holy month. As you may all know or at least heard, detox treatments have been practiced for centuries to clear up toxins from our bodies. Hippocrates has advised fasting for a better health status, where as religions have advised fasting for a better psyche state. Although fasting is mostly done as a religious practice, nowadays more and more people are fasting for better health. The most important idea behind this is the benefits of fasting towards human health. As there are several reasons why people fast, there are also different types of fasting.

Dry or absolute fasting
This type restricts all foods for a timeframe and it is called “absolute” due to its extreme conditions. This type of fasting can be a day- or a week-long. People are only allowed to drink liquids with this type of fasting. Such is generally advised by doctors in the setting of rheumatoid diseases in order to take inflammation under control. Intermittent fasting
In this type people restrict both liquids and foods for a certain time frame every day. Intermittent fasting has spiritual roots and is mostly practiced by Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan. Besides Islam, other religious communities including Hindus, Jewish, Greek Catholics and eastern orthodox also practice this type of fasting.

Partial fasting

It is also sometimes called selective fasting. This type of fasting is partial or selective because it restricts certain type of food for a certain timeframe.
This can either be dairy, animal based foods, oil types or starch. Its not the amount of food that is limited, its is the type of food that is excluded from your daily diet. This type of fasting includes cleansing detox practices or monodiets.

The effects of fasting on human health

Sugar, scientifically called glucose is our body’s main energy supply. It is also the main element needed for our brain functions.
Once we are out of glucose or there is no intake for four to eight hours due to fasting, our body starts using the glucose stored in our liver called glycogen. The process that converts glycogen to glucose is called glycogenolysis and during glycogenolysis we also use some of the proteins that we take with foods.

The energy gained by this process can be enough to our bodies for up to 12 hours. That being said, the basic and complex carbohydrates we take right before we start fasting, called “sahoor time,” can provide energy for the first eight hours in fasting. After the first eight hours, the proteins we take during sahoor will provide an additional support of 12 hours to us. This way, eating smart when fasting or in Ramadan during even the longest fasting hours will not cause any unwanted health effects. What about after 18 hours? Well, that is the time when fat storages come into action and they act as third energy supplies for our bodies. There is basically nothing to be afraid of during Ramadan, and I always express this to my patients by saying that you already fast every single day of your life without labeling it “fasting.” Don’t you all go to bed and not eat or drink during the night for an average of eight hours? That is our physiologic fasting state where we give our system a rest for its restoration. That is why I advice fasting to all and say that our bodies are actually designed to fast.

Additionally, just to let you know that, there are no religions advising people to fast until your body gets into starvation or starts melting down. A great attention has to be given to water or liquid intake during fasting, since food is basically not related as much as water when it comes to metabolic functions in the human body, especially when they are able to eat only at certain times of the day. You need to drink more if your body-mass index is higher. This means that if you are taller and/or heavier in weight you must drink more than the recommended average of 2 liters of water a day.


The answer is simple. When you body is bigger you have a bigger surface area, each square centimeter increase in your surface means that you loose more body water than smaller sized people because of insensible water loss due to weather conditions.

Although you have a very limited time to eat or drink between episodes of fasting, we do ask you to spread out your liquid intake during this period instead of drinking in boluses. This basically means that drinking a liter of water right before starting fasting is not enough and not right for your body. In this case, the excess water will directly turn into urine and your daily water reserve will not be filled properly, causing dehydration during the fasting day. Of course the advices that promote fasting is only for people who are in good health. Islam and most probably all other religions prohibit fasting to people who are not in a good state of health. The most important diseases that prevent fasting are diabetes and renal diseases.

Diabetic people take either oral or subcutaneous medicines to control their glucose levels, and if they do not eat regularly their treatment will be effected and also they might go into hypoglycemic state that is a great trouble for our bodies.

On the other hand, our kidneys need water to supply and to rejuvenate. So if you have chronic kidney disease where your renal function is compromised, you may even need more and continuous water intake to protect them becoming worse. It should be forgotten that religions also prohibit fasting to pregnant or nursing mothers. During pregnancy or nursing your body will need at least an additional 20 percent of liquid intake than that of your regular daily need, which basically cannot be achieved during fasting. If you have a health concern or are under chronic treatment with medications, it is always best to ask your doctor if you are eligible to fast.

There are so many literatures that have been published advocating the health benefits of fasting. Some scientist even discuss that the limitation of smoking during fasting of Muslims and Bahais will even have positive health effects. Additionally, in general, people pray and meditation more during religious fasting, which adds up to other health effects and is a great benefit for mood and the psyche. Lets take a look at several literatures that I have found advising fasting.

Pakistan Biologic Sciences journal has published an article in 2007 saying that, fasting may help obese people to lose weight.

American Cancer Association and Cancer Causes Control Journal have published an article demonstrating that intermittent fasting may reduce long-term cancer risks. A research funded by the National institute of Aging has shown that fasting results in a better self-protection of healthy cells towards external agents including chemotherapeutic drugs.

According to Mayo Clinic articles and Harvard Science, fasting was found to have beneficial effects on heart health. It is thought that fasting casues our bodies to metabolize cholesterol and glucose in a better fashion during fasting. It was also shown that the level of sirtulin, a type of enzyme that causes fat storage in our bodies, will decrease and also reduce the production of bad (LDL) cholesterol.

A recent article published in the Journal of Science Translational medicine has shown that fasting increases memory functions and clarity of mind. It was also reported that this calorie intake restriction was also beneficial for degenerative brain disease including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

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False Facts About Catching a Cold, Flu



Everyone catches a cold once or twice in the winter and mid-seasons. Although we take precautions to prevent catching a cold, the false facts that we believe to be true misdirect us. To be able to protect ourselves from the disease, it is important to know facts about the disease in the first place

Even though it is getting warmer, changes in temperature have the potential to lead to different diseases. Some of us have already started to feel tired, get the sniffles or become sneezy. Amid the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, we do not have time to rest and look after ourselves to fight our sicknesses. One should not forget that the most important point in the fight against a cold is to take precautionary measures.

Well, what do you know about illnesses, such as the cold, which affects the quality of our lives immensely? How accurate is the advice that our elders or neighbors give us? One of the most important things to keep in mind is that the source of sickness (for influenza) is not cold weather, but it is microorganisms and viruses. Here are several points about colds that are actually false.

Does going out with wet hair make us sick?

Cold or flu develops after a virus called “rhinovirus” enters the human body. Regardless of the temperature, weather or environmental conditions, once this virus enters into your body through your nose, mouth or other organs, then you will get sick. Otherwise, this virus will not affect you even though it exists in the same place where you are.

In this case, if we go out with wet hair, are we more likely to catch this virus? Well, wet hair only leads you to feel the cold more intensely. That is why this ongoing belief is still popular among people.

A group of American scientists studied the influence of going out with wet hair in cold weather on catching cold or flu. They first asked a group of participants if they believe this factor increases the risk of getting a cold. Some 41 percent of them responded “yes” to this question.

Then they prepared two different settings where the flu virus existed. In one of these settings, there were cold temperature conditions while the other had normal weather conditions. Some of the participants had wet hair and some had dry hair when they entered their own settings.

The result turned out to be very interesting. According to the study, in the same conditions (cold temperature), no difference was observed between the participants with wet hair and those with dry hair regarding their chances of getting cold. The only difference between the two groups turned out to be that the participants with wet hair felt colder than the participants with dry hair.

There are more studies that point out the same results. Thus, it has been scientifically proven that wet hair in cold weather does not increase the chances of getting a cold. Well, you’d better tell your mother about this fact because it is very likely she will resist changing this strong belief about catching a cold.

Do wool caps protect us from getting cold?

I am sure there are thousands of people who spent their childhood wearing woolen caps like I did, thus you became like a pea in a pod with your cap on until the weather gets better. The common belief that woolen caps protect us from getting cold stems from the belief that the fastest and biggest heat loss in the human body occurs from the head when the body starts to lose heat in cold weather, a belief that dates back 50 years.

The U.S. Army Forces conducted various experiments to increase their chances of survival in the perishing cold, to which the soldiers were likely to be exposed. A pretty cold environment was prepared for the experiment guided by scientists. Some volunteer soldiers started to wait in a cold room without wool caps and scientists measured the head temperatures of soldiers at certain intervals. Results show that soldiers lost up to 50 percent of their body heat from the head.

One of the most important reasons why this belief is still popular is the trust in the results of the scientific research. But, does the fact that we lose heat from our head quickly and in large amounts mean that it is the only part of our body that loses heat? Of course, not. If that was the case, only wearing a woolen cap would be enough to protect us from risk of freezing.

Grounding his research in this argument, Dr. Daniel Sessler, president of Cleveland Clinic Research Center, conducted similar a similar study – in cooperation with the U.S. army again – including participants who wore swimsuits in the same conditions. This study showed that almost every part of the human body experiences heat loss at the same level when the body is not protected in cold weather.

Thus, even if we can’t say that wearing a wool cap does not make any difference in cold weather, we can easily say that protecting only the head does not protect us from getting cold.

To sum up, always remember it is microorganisms and viruses that make us sick, not the cold weather itself. We must be especially careful about keeping our hands clean as we are frequently in crowded places and in contact with people who have a cold or the flu. Hands are in constant contact with the mouth and nose, which serve as an entrance point for microorganisms. We must make a habit out of washing our hands especially while it is still cold.

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Depression: A Hidden Heart Disease Risk Factor For Women



Depression is almost twice as likely to affect women than men. Difficulty in sleeping, loss of appetite and fatigue are the most common symptoms, but another lesser-known risk is a higher chance of heart attack

If we have not seen for ourselves a person who has had a heart attack before, the first image that comes to our minds in such a situation is similar to those in movie scenes. In most cases, a man holding his chest suddenly collapses, and the diagnosis is a heart attack. There is a strong public belief that a heart attack is seen in men more than women. This partially true data does not necessarily mean that women are at a lower risk.

The human body generally gives signals about what is happening. The important thing is to interpret these messages correctly and in a timely manner. The male and female bodies are two different systems that process things in different ways. This is why the same disease can show up with different signals in the two sexes. A heart attack is one of them.

If you have problems such as fatigue, heartburn, indigestion, sudden dizziness and lack of quality sleep, it may be a sign that you are at risk of a heart attack. Many women can relate these symptoms to busy work life, stress and city life. These are true, yet your lifestyle may assist in developing such symptoms, which can lead to worse health problems.

Do you constantly feel tired?

Fatigue is one of the most common complaints in our lives. Insomnia, the flu or the side effects of medications can easily cause tiredness, but being able to associate your fatigue with these causes does not mean that the actual cause of your complaints is one of them.

The results of a survey on women who have had a heart attack are quite interesting. More than 70 percent of women who had a heart attack reported that they had a feeling of fatigue that did not go away in the pre-heart attack period.

Do you have trouble sleeping?

There can be many different reasons for lack of sleep, and the vast majority requires regular treatment. If you cannot sleep immediately when you get into bed at night or if it takes too much time, you should be careful. A scientific study on women suffering from a heart attack calls attention to women’s sleep disorders. Almost half of the women who had a heart attack reported that they had suffered from lack of sleep that lasted for a while.

Do you suffer from shortness of breath?

If you are having difficulty doing routine activities during the day and the most obvious change that is bothering you is shortness of breath, never ignore this. Studies have shown that unexpected shortness of breath, which cannot be attributed to a known illness, may be a symptom of a heart attack for women. If you suffer from a cough as well as shortness of breath, this can be a signal you need to take seriously.

Do you suffer from heartburn and indigestion?

Eating habits and existing stomach disorders may cause you to develop heartburn. What should be noted here is whether you have a known illness that can explain your stomach problem. If you have not developed heartburn or indigestion complaints before, do not ignore it.

Another scientific study on women who had a heart attack draws attention to the finding that women who suffer from (unexpected) heartburn and indigestion should be careful. According to the study, almost 40 percent of women who had a heart attack reported that they suffered from heartburn or indigestion before the heart attack occurred.

Apart from heartburn, nausea and vomiting that occur without reason are among the heart attack symptoms for women. A study examining pre-heart attack symptoms showed that women had twice as many stomach and intestinal system diseases as men. In this case, women who have complaints such as heartburn, indigestion, nausea and vomiting that develop without cause should pay twice as much attention as men.

Do you have serious anxiety problems?

Depression, angst and anxiety are frequently experienced among many people. Panic attacks, which have seriously increased in prevalence, are one of the psychological disorders that go along with a heart attack. As I mentioned before, if there is no known cause of the situation you are experiencing, you should take it seriously.

A study on women who had heart attacks call attention to the fact that women suffering from anxiety and angst should be careful. According to the survey, most of the women who had a heart attack said that they suffered from unexpected anxiety and angst in the pre-heart attack period.

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A Heart-Friendly Grocery List For Your Next Shopping Trip



While walking along a supermarket’s aisles, the temptation to buy a variety of food items sets in, not aware that your basket is already full. For a healthy diet especially for the heart, you need a smart grocery list

Having a well-thought grocery list does not only save you time but helps you stick to a healthy diet. The items on your grocery list show how much you prioritize your health without being fooled by the marking hype.

The same thing goes when it comes to your heart health. Avoiding unhealthy food is as crucial as consuming foods rich in nutrients, fiber and healthy fats to prevent heart attacks. We have put together a shopping list for a heart-healthy diet.

The following foods that have been proven to be healthy for your heart should be included on your shopping list.

Beet greens

Are you throwing beet greens in the trash? Don’t! Beet greens is the top item on our list to protect yourself against heart diseases. Studies have revealed many advantages of beet greens for health. Fibers found in beet greens are known to decrease cholesterol absorption. Particularly those who have high cholesterol should definitely take advantage of the health benefits of beet greens. The heart-friendly product also helps stabilize your blood pressure thanks to its potassium content.

Canola oil

Marketed as heart-healthy oil, canola oil, which used to be widely available in local markets is currently a rarity. Made from crushed canola seeds, it has less saturated fat than any of the other oil kinds. It is higher in the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Studies show that sterols found in the canola plant lowers bad cholesterol levels. Canola oil is also very rich in antioxidants and (thanks to antioxidants) it reduces inflammation in the body. You need to consume one table spoon of canola oil to get the expected benefits.

Bitter chocolate

There are enough studies to make any chocolate lover happy. Findings show that bitter chocolate speeds metabolism and aids weight loss, putting a smile on women’s faces in particular. However, in order to accelerate your metabolism, you need to make sure that your choice of bitter chocolate contains no less than 70 percent cacao.In addition to boosting metabolism, bitter chocolate is also good for your heart. Flavanols found in cacao help your vessels to flex and your blood to dilute, thus, reducing your blood pressure. Flexing your blood vessels is an important factor helping you reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, do not forget that bitter chocolate must contain at least 70 percent cacao in order to protect your health.


A staple of traditional Turkish cuisine, garlic is usually an indispensable item in the preparation of dishes. Researchers say consuming one clove of garlic – or if you are taking it in powder form, 1 teaspoon – will also provide protection against cardiac diseases. Garlic flexes your muscles and prevents plate formation in vessels and high cholesterol.


The struggle to lose weight has been one of the most popular subjects in the last few years. A number of scientific studies spotlight the fiber content of apples. There is about 5 milligrams of fiber in an apple – enough to meet (+/-) three-quarters of our daily intake need. Those trying to lose weight must definitely include apples in their diet. There are some other studies revealing that eating an apple a day helps you protect against heart diseases. Apple ranks fifth on our list of heart-healthy products. Scientists say that the high fiber flavonoid content of apples reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes and lowers cholesterol levels! Consuming an apple a day is crucial for your health.

Olive oil

Used frequently in Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil is deemed as one of the miracles of nature. Very rich in antioxidants, olive oil helps lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels without affecting HDL (good cholesterol). Therefore, it ranks sixth on this list. In order to benefit from olive oil, you need to consume about 2 tablespoons per day. It is advised to consume it raw by adding it to salads. There are a myriad of olive oil varieties available at supermarkets, which perplexes shoppers. It is very normal that you might not be able to decide which one to buy. The packaging and labels are sometimes confusing. My personal advice is to go for the “natural extra virgin olive oil.”

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