The Art of Wholesome Living: Dr. Nooreen Saba on Effects of Nutrition and Holistic Wellbeing

Summary Article by Rushna Ali Khan

A thought-provoking lecture can shift our perspective on daily life essentials. Ever wondered if your dinner is secretly plotting against you? Well, I found the answer to this question in a lecture on Nutrition and Holistic wellbeing by Dr. Nooreen Saba, organised by ISIP India.

Dr. Saba who specialises in Unani Medicine also holds a certification in Islamic Psychology and Counselling from the United Kingdom. As a devoted counsellor and social worker, Dr. Saba directs her expertise toward improving mental health within the Muslim community. She serves as the director of the Rahmah Foundation, an organisation dedicated to supporting the mental health of Muslim women. 

In this article, I’ll share the enlightening insights from her talk, exploring how nutrition has an impact on holistic wellbeing of an individual.

Defining Health:

In her insightful presentation, Dr. Saba emphasised the comprehensive definition of health given by the World Health Organization, which extends beyond the mere absence of disease to include complete physical, mental, and social well-being. This definition aligns perfectly with the holistic health concept rooted in Islamic teachings.

The Concept of Holistic Health in Islam:

Highlighting the Islamic perspective on health, Dr. Saba explained that it is regarded not merely as a personal asset but as a divine blessing, esteemed just below the gift of faith (Tirmidhi). She cited teachings from Prophet Muhammadﷺ that stress the importance of maintaining health to fulfil one’s religious duties and contribute effectively to the community. The Islamic approach advocates for a balanced nurturing of the body, mind, and spirit, establishing a comprehensive wellness framework that is both prophetic and scientific.

Needs of the Human Body:

Dr. Saba detailed essential human body needs such as food, water, air, sleep, physical activity, and nutrition which are foundational to maintaining health. She emphasised the critical role of a diet balanced in macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). These nutrients are essential for supporting a strong immune system, promoting healthy growth and development, and preventing a spectrum of diseases, thereby fulfilling both spiritual obligations and physical necessities. She pointed out the misconception that only medicines can treat diseases. Lifestyle and nutrition can also help in treating issues like PCOS, Diabetes, and Thyroid.

Islamic Dietary Wisdom and Modern Nutrition:

Critiquing the prevalence of high-carbohydrate and processed food diets in modern times, Dr. Saba advised the moderation and dietary balance promoted by Islamic guidelines. She illustrated the prophetic method of meal portioning – dividing the stomach’s capacity into thirds: one-third for food, one-third for water, and one-third left empty. This practice not only enhances digestion but also aligns with spiritual discipline. She also praised the intrinsic benefits of dates, figs, olives, and honey, which are staples in Islamic nutrition and recognized for their comprehensive health benefits in modern dietary science.

The Benefits of Fasting and Salah:

Dr. Saba drew a compelling parallel between the Islamic practice of fasting and the concept of modern intermittent fasting. She outlined their shared benefits for improving metabolic health and managing weight. Fasting during Ramadan and other times is not only spiritually rewarding but also offers significant detoxifying health benefits. Additionally, she elaborated on the physical benefits of Salah (daily prayers), which incorporates physical movements that enhance flexibility, boost circulation, and build muscle strength integral to physical health maintenance.

Integrating Nutrition with Islamic Psychological Practices:

Emphasising the intersection of physical and mental health, Dr. Saba stated the importance of the integration of nutritional education within Islamic psychological practices. She highlighted the importance of a well-nourished body for maintaining a healthy mind and spirit, essential for holistic well-being.

Psycho-Spiritual Aspects of Nutrition:

Exploring deeper, Dr. Saba discussed how proper nutrition enhances mental health and spiritual practice. She noted that a balanced diet contributes to mental clarity and spiritual peace, indicating the holistic health model promoted by Islam that nourishes both the body and soul.

Conclusion:

Dr. Saba concluded her lecture with a powerful call to action, urging attendees, especially those in the mental health field, to promote a balanced health approach that includes comprehensive nutritional guidance based on Islamic teachings. By embracing the holistic health model that Islam offers, which seamlessly blends ancient wisdom with modern science, the community can achieve outstanding health outcomes.

Attending Dr Saba’s lecture was an eye-opener in many ways, but one remark particularly stuck with me: ‘What we eat affects our body.’ This simple statement made me pause and reconsider my daily food choices. Often, we carelessly eat our meals without considering the impact it has on our physical, mental and spiritual health. So next time you’re about to dive into your meal, take a moment to reflect: Is this food a friend or a foe to my well-being? Let’s aim to make choices that make our bodies say ‘Thank you!’ rather than ‘Why me?’ Insha’Allah, let’s eat thoughtfully and laugh heartily at our past food blunders. After all, they say you are what you eat.

Link to the lecture https://youtu.be/Mq-P3swIcow?si=GIN_CjElILYKq0kP

2 thoughts on “The Art of Wholesome Living: Dr. Nooreen Saba on Effects of Nutrition and Holistic Wellbeing

  1. Boshra sami says:

    🔻I’ve experienced the heeling effect of healthy balanced nutrition so many times in my life and my kids’,
    🔻 And I believe that maintaining a healthy style of life is much better than searching for treatment,
    🔻 I also believe that every region has it’s own healthy diet, available reasonably around their own environment and suiting their health in this very region, for it is all the arrangements of Almighty ALLAH the Most-wise and also the Most-merciful, so you even don’t need to import a crop or any type of food you don’t have in your homeland where you live😃

  2. Ahmed ElAbyad says:

    Thank you for Dr. Nooreen for reminding us about the Islamic practice, there is also an Islamic reminded that prophet Mohammed PBUH for several months no fire at home was lit to cook food which shows that the excessive of food is something prohibited

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