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Diabetes and fasting: Can I fast during Ramadan?
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Diabetes and fasting: Can I fast during Ramadan?

The festival of Ramadan is a month of spiritual reflection for Muslims worldwide. During Ramadan, Muslims are required to refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. While there are several exemptions from fasting, many Muslim patients with ac

Post by on Tuesday, April 20, 2021

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The festival of Ramadan is a month of spiritual reflection for Muslims worldwide. During Ramadan, Muslims are required to refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. While there are several exemptions from fasting, many Muslim patients with acute or chronic medical conditions still chose to fast, which may adversely affect their health if not addressed properly. To discuss how Ramadan affects patients' health behaviors, Rising Kashmir’s Health Correspondent Mansoor Peer spoke exclusively to Dr Shahnawaz Ahmad, consultant physician and diabetologist at Government Gousia Hospital Srinagar.


What are the health benefits of fasting?

Fasting helps to lose weight by utilizing extra body fat for body energy. Fasting also helps in improving mental health. It improves body fitness and protects people from falling prey to different chronic diseases. Fasting also improves fatty liver.


Should pregnant women go for fasting?

Pregnant and lactating mothers are exempted from fasting in Ramadan. 


Should patients suffering from diabetes go for fasting?

Yes people with uncomplicated diabetes can fast during Ramadan but the only thing is that they should decrease their dose of diabetic medication by half at suhoor. They should shift their morning dose at iftar and evening dose at sehri.

Diabetic patients should take adequate water during non-fasting hours to avoid the increased risk of dehydration which could be harmful for them. They should take in consideration the season also like cold weather one may not need to take much as one doesn’t sweat and get dehydrated.

The patients suffering from diabetes should monitor their sugars results. Patients on multiple doses of insulin and elderly diabetics should avoid fasting.


What is the impact of fasting on the health of those who are ill?

Patients who are severely ill should avoid fasting due to various reasons like multiple medications and their timings, meals, dehydration especially elderly and they are exempted from fasting in Islam also. One doesn’t need to be more loyal than the king.


Among many people there is lack of health-seeking behavior. What are methods for awareness and education related to Ramadan fasting?

Many hemodialyses patients still choose to fast despite knowing that they are vulnerable to higher risk for developing malnutrition? What should they do? Patients on dialysis means they are end stage kidney disease, they should avoid fasting, or else consult their treating doctor to direct them as per their condition.

What about children. At what age should children start fasting? 

See the children at 12 years and above with no ailments can go for fast. As in Islam also they should fast by puberty. So give your children the best possible start. Ramadan is no different than that. They should eat a well-balanced diet. Take plenty of water and eat hydrated foods between iftar and suhoor.

Many people experience dehydration and vomiting at iftar and sehri. What should they do?

People with nausea vomiting at sehri or iftar should see a physician to look for a cause and accordingly follow the advice to avoid complications.

Can fasting have positive effects on our health, please explain?

Yes there are a lot of health benefits of fasting. It decreases insulin levels and increases body fat burning. Fasting improves insulin resistance in diabetic patients.

Does fasting help in improving heart health?

Fasting improves the growth hormone levels. Body call repeat improves. Oxidative stress of the body is decreased. Fasting also improves cardiac health and this it’s function. 

What unhealthy eating habits should we avoid?

One should avoid fast foods, fried foods, packed foods, try to take fresh fruits, fresh fruit juices, dates, sprouted pulses, eggs etc. But be careful not to consume too much caffeine, and avoid sweetened fruit juices, syrups, fruit juice concentrates, fizzy and still drinks as they all contain sugar.

Tell us how to be healthier in Ramadan?

Stay healthy in Ramadan by taking fresh healthy food, avoid over eating, take small naps, do not exert much avoid heavy exercise and stay hydrated.

Also home-cooked food is healthier and more nutritious for you than calorie-filled food from outside the home because you know exactly what you are adding to it. A lot of food produced outside the home is high in calories, salt, fat and sugar, which increases the risk of you becoming overweight or obese, and developing chronic diseases such as heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

After breaking fast many people complain they are unable to move?

People who get lazy after breaking fast; is because they over eat which should be avoided.

What should one have when breaking the fast?

One should break the fast surely with dates and plain water. For instant energy fruits like watermelon, melon, oranges, grapes, fresh juices etc. Proteins should be adequate in both meals in whatever form one likes meat, chicken, eggs, pulses etc.


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