top of page

Ramadan and Hormone Changes in Men


Within the article, “Ramadan fasting alters endocrine and neuroendocrine circadian patterns. Meal–time as a synchronizer in humans?” the patterns of hormonal levels shift along with the patterns of meal times, according to researchers (Bogdan, André, et al.). Shown within a scientific test, researchers measured this link by gathering serum concentrations from those who were fasting during the month-long Muslim Ramadan (Bogdan, André, et al.). Ramadan fasting varies by the year due to the Muslim lunar calendar, making the fasting period between 12 to 16 hours during the day, abstaining from food, drinks, smoking, and sexual activity (Bogdan, André, et al.). For this research, the focus rests on the correlation with the timing of food consumption, not the other habit changes mentioned above.



The test included 10 healthy, consenting, non-medicated, and non-smoking males ranging from ages 32-40 years old. Two test days were taken, one on the first week before the fasting began and the other on the 23rd day of Ramadan, with 6 tests throughout the day to measure the amount of hormones at various times. The test measured cortisol, melatonin, testosterone, free thyroxine, free triiodothyronine, thyroid-stimulating hormone, growth hormone, prolactin, luteotropic hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone. Physical exercise and work were not included in the study as fasting did not inhibit these activities. Meals before and during testing and Ramadan were orchestrated by a nutritionist, the substance of the meals showed similarity only that the “fasting” meals were slightly higher in sugar and carbohydrates as opposed to the meals given before Ramadan. The meals before testing were around 2700 calories during breakfast, lunch, and dinner; whereas during the fast, the meals consisted of around 2600 calories with only two meal timings, one at 7 pm and the other at 12:01 am (Bogdan, André, et al.).


The results showed two major points. The subjects’ sleep time was one hour shorter during the time of Ramadan (Bogdan, André, et al.). This was the only visible difference noted within the article regarding the subjects’ outward behavior. However, with the test results taken by the beginning and the 23rd day of the fasting period, endocrine levels changed by either timing of release, quantity, or both. The result “shows statistically significant time-related variations ...for serum melatonin, cortisol, testosterone, PRL, FSH, GH, TSH and a statistically significant decrease in the 24-h mean level of serum melatonin and FSH...time-related variations of serum melatonin, cortisol, testosterone, PRL, and TSH changed significantly... Finally, no significant effect at all could be found for LH, FT3 or FT4” (Bogdan, André, et al).



The study was conducted mainly to examine the changes in meal timing concerning the changes in hormones.

Their data showed strong correlations with a five-day water fast study showing delayed serum concentrations, although, unlike this Ramadan study, there was not a significant increase in the mean concentration of cortisol (Bogdan, André, et al.). The habits, work schedule, and kinds of nutrition were not taken into the conclusion of the data. Although the research aimed to focus on the timing and not the kind of nutrition consumed with hormonal shifts, this is controversially noted due to other research indicating that the type of food we eat changes our hormones, especially since this particular study included more sugars and carbohydrates during the Ramadan period. As well, the article makes a note that the study was conducted throughout the winter as opposed to the impact of the sun correlated with summer’s months on the circadian rhythm. The article similarly noted that subjects might have been more likely to have their melatonin levels changed due to the late-night artificial lights during their midnight meal during the Ramadan period. It is important to emphasize the other difference of natural hormonal changes between sexes, and how this study only included males and not females, making the research not solely applicable to every sex. Research continues to examine the difference between the endocrine rhythm fluctuations between different sexes, such as the endocrine impact within the circadian rhythm alignment for the average male opposed to the infradian and circadian rhythm alignment for the average female (Bigleyj, 2023).



To say what exactly had an impact on what and if the endocrine changes were a combination of factors, is hard to say. However, the article shows that synchronisers, when we eat and rest within the circadian rhythm, play an important part in the level of release of certain hormones (Bogdan, André, et al.). What this study prompts is the inquisition of other fad fasts such as inhibition at other times of the 24 hours. For example, does fasting during the circadian rhythm other than the morning have the same hormonal changes as those who break their fast at night? Is this way healthier, and is it healthy for every body type and sex? Are these changes changing our brains, and therefore the health of our minds? More research is to be conducted to answer these curiosities.




Citation



Bogdan, André, et al. “Ramadan Fasting Alters Endocrine and Neuroendocrine Circadian Patterns. Meal–time as a Synchronizer in Humans?” Life Sciences (1973), vol. 68, no. 14, 2001, pp. 1607–15, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0024-3205(01)00966-3.




Bigleyj. “Infradian Rhythms: What They Are & Why They Matter.” Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, 7 Apr. 2023, health.clevelandclinic.org/infradian-rhythm/.



5 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page