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What You Should Know If You Have Diabetes And Choose To Fast This Ramadan

It is important to understand what really happens to your body when you fast.

11/06/2017 11:11 AM IST | Updated 11/06/2017 11:13 AM IST
Himanshu Sharma / Reuters

Fasting during Ramadan is an important component of Islam. However, patients with diabetes who decide to fast need to observe certain precautions. Some do worry about how to do this safely, and how to fulfill this religious obligation without creating health problems for themselves. For this reason, it is important to understand what really happens to your body when you fast and what you can do to keep your diabetes under control during Ramadan.

How risky is fasting for you?

Patients with diabetes fall under two categories, depending on the level of risk associated with fasting. Patients with Type 1 diabetes are in the high-risk category. The chances of them suffering from hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia when fasting are higher as compared to patients with Type 2 diabetes. All patients with diabetes however should consult their doctor before they undertake the Ramadan fast so that they are aware of all precautionary measures they need to take to make fasting a safe experience.

Symptoms to watch out for

Keeping track of blood sugar levels all through the day during a fast is very important. Patients with diabetes should be aware of common signs and symptoms that could arise as a result of fluctuations in their blood sugar levels. Hyperglycemia, that is high blood sugar level, is accompanied by a dry mouth, increased thirst, fatigue, hunger, nausea, dizziness, headache and blurry vision.

Being aware of your condition and staying in touch with your medical team throughout the holy month will ensure that you observe a healthy and safe Ramadan.

If hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) occurs, patients could experience feelings of shakiness, higher heart rate, sweating/chills, anxiety, intense hunger, nausea, numbness and drowsiness. Other complications that could arise include dehydration, diabetic ketoacidosis and formation of blood clot in the blood vessels. If you experience such symptoms or know someone who does, contact your doctor at the earliest to prevent what could be a medical emergency.

What to eat (and avoid) when breaking the fast

Include whole-grain bread, whole-grain low-sugar cereals, beans and lentils in your daily meals to maintain a balanced intake of nutrients. Ensure a good serving of fruit and vegetables with your meal, to avoid dehydration and improve your fibre intake. It is also advisable to include protein rich food in your diet, as it causes a feeling of satiety, making you feel less hungry while you fast. Try to keep consumption of carbohydrates and fatty food to a minimum. Drink sufficient water and avoid indulging in packed fruit juices.

Remember that fasting during Ramadan is a personal choice, but one that must be taken after consultation with your doctor. Making any self-alteration in your medication is highly discouraged; any change in medication needs to be discussed with your doctor to avoid possible fatal complications. Being aware of your condition and staying in touch with your medical team throughout the holy month will ensure that you observe a healthy and safe Ramadan.

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What You Should Know If You Have Diabetes And Choose To Fast This Ramadan What You Should Know If You Have Diabetes And Choose To Fast This Ramadan

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