In honor of Mawlid Al-Nabi, the prophet’s birthday which will soon be upon us, here are some of Prophet Muhammad’s (ﷺ) healthy habits, which happen to be backed scientifically today!
Early Riser: Prophet Muhammad slept early and woke up with the Adhan of Fajr each day. Being an early riser has scientifically been correlated with better productivity, as well as better mental health in general. So, waking up early may be hard but with baby steps, even if it’s just waking up 15 minutes earlier to start with, you can begin improving your quality of life.
Eating Less: The practice of eating less to prevent sickness and disease was emphasized by Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), and now backed heavily by science much later. The Islamic concept ‘1/3 for your food, 1/3 for your liquids, and 1/3 for your breath’ matches very closely to the Japanese ‘hara hachi bu’ concept, which means eat until you are only 80% full. Read more about the health benefits of the ‘hara hachi bu’ practice here.
Eating Slowly: We now know that it takes our body 20 minutes to send signals to our brain that it is full. Slow eating will help you eat less food and improve your digestion, and it is a practice Muhammad (ﷺ) did himself and strongly advocated. Read more about slow, mindful eating here.
Mindful Eating: ‘Eat together and not separately, for the blessing is associated with the company’. The prophet stressed this, and today sharing and enjoying food has been proven to reduce stress, improve family and romantic relationships, and build healthy eating habits within children.
Water: ‘Do not drink water in one breath, but drink it in two or three breaths’, is the manner by which Muhammad (ﷺ) drank water. Science today proves that when a person drinks too much water in a short period of time they can experience headaches, imbalance in blood electrolyte levels and sometimes dizziness too. Drinking slowly helps you actually absorb the fluid and get the most benefit out of it.
Pomegranates: Pomegranates are thought to have been the prophet’s favorite fruit, and modern scientific research has proven pomegranates to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet. They contain manganese, which helps in the formation of bone structures during the metabolic process, and potassium, which aids in maintaining cellular function and keeps a balance in fluid levels. They are also potent in flavonoids and polyphenols, antioxidants which protect our bodies against heart disease.
Fasting: Recent evidence is showing that not just the food we eat, but our eating timings and patterns also have a profound impact on our health. Fasting was a regular practice of Muhammad’s (ﷺ) life, not just during Ramadan. He would fast until Maghrib every Monday and Thursday, and also on the 13th, 14th and 15th of each month. This is similar to the intermittent fasting practice, which has been proven to balance hormone levels, prevent oxidative stress, and reduce overall inflammation. When you think about it, the less food you put into your body the less it focuses on digestion and the more it can focus on healing itself from certain ailments!
Dates: Dates are the perfect foods to break your fast as they stabilize your blood sugar levels, rebalance blood electrolyte levels, and help kick start your digestive system in preparation for food. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) also recommended dates to be eaten in the lead up to childbirth. Dates are now proven to boost oxytocin production in your body and speed up labor.
Staying Active: Fulfilling three of the five pillars of Islam requires that Muslims be of sound health and fitness; prayer in itself is a form of exercise that requires movement of your body’s muscles and joints. Good health is also necessary if you intend to fast or participate in Hajj. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) strongly encouraged physical exercise and told parents to encourage physical activity in their children too by ‘teaching them swimming, horse riding, and archery’.