Ramadan fasting: Suggestions and tips from doctors for those who are diabetic
Diabetics are always recommended against fasting. During the holy month of Ramadan, fasting is observed from dawn to sunset. During this time Islam followers abstain from eating and drinking throughout the day.
This year, the holy month of Ramadan is being observed from April 2 to May 2.
As per a study, fasting during Ramadan carries a very high risk for people with type 1 diabetes. This risk is particularly exacerbated in poorly controlled patients and those with limited access to medical care, hypoglycemic unawareness, unstable glycemic control, or recurrent hospitalisations.
However, owing to the religious significance of the holy month of Ramadan, people do fast.
In order to give healthy tips to those who are diabetic and are fasting during this month, we at ETimes spoke to Dr Vanjinathan, General Medicine & Diabetology, Prashanth Hospitals, Kolathur, Chennai and Dr. M. Ravikiran, Consultant Endocrinologist, SIMS Hospital, Chennai.
What should be eaten?
“Do not skip the Suhoor – pre-dawn meal or the Iftar meal firstly keeping it light and not heavy. Keeping oneself hydrated is very crucial and consumption of low salt and low fat light diet is preferred generally,” says Dr Vanjinathan.
On what needs to be avoided during this time, the expert says, “We need to avoid high fat foods as well as caffeinated drinks and aerated drinks etc. by replacing it with green leafy vegetables , nuts and fluids,” and also recommends against consumption of fried items and foods with high salt content.
On the type of food one should consume during Iftaar, Dr M. Ravikiran says: “The usual habit of ingesting large amounts of foods rich in carbohydrate and fat, especially at the sunset meal, should be avoided.”
The doctors have strictly suggested those with gestational diabetes to skip fasting.
Dr Vanjinathan suggests taking doctor’s advice for fasting as, he says, managing insulin levels through change in medications or insulin intake needs to be regulated accordingly. Adding to this, Dr M. Ravikiran says, “Since food intake is restricted to late evening and night, your doctor will be shifting major dose of diabetic medicine to night time. Those on insulin can discuss with their doctors how to safely modify timing and dose of insulin before embarking on fasting.”
“There may be other complications like sugar, kidney issues, heart issues, vascular pain, peripheral vascular conditions etc. which needs to be considered before deciding to fast. Continuous periodic consultation like HbA1c count and sugar levels need to be monitored and regulated before taking a call on fasting,” says the doctor.
Other health issues
As per a health report, for those people who have diabetes complications like poor vision, nerve damage, heart or kidney disease, fasting can be detrimental.
“It is safe to fast during Ramadan, if you have stable, well controlled Diabetes and no co-existing kidney or major heart problems. It is better to avoid fasting during this time, if you are dependent on insulin exclusively for sugar control (Type 1 diabetes) or are having type 2 diabetes with poor sugar control. If you have recent instances of very low or very high sugar or have kidney disease or have had a stroke or a heart surgery recently you should avoid fasting,” says Dr. M. Ravikiran.