Ramadan is a month of fasting to practice self-discipline which requires refraining from food and water from sunrise till sunset. The fast may last for 11 to 19 hours, depending upon the sunset time. Fasting has many health benefits, but it can pose potential risks to people with diabetes and other health conditions. However, there are no proven facts against fasting for diabetic individuals, but they do require proper management of diabetes to maintain blood sugar levels.
Is Fasting Safe for People with Diabetes?
The safety of fasting is a burning question for diabetic individuals. Fasting is safe for people with diabetes; however, it entirely depends upon their health. Managing diabetes before and during the fast is key. There are some precautionary measures that diabetic people need to take to ensure safe fasting.
If you decide to fast, you must speak to your doctor first. If your blood glucose is not stable, your doctor may suggest otherwise, especially if there are potential risks of complications that may be developed if you
- have poorly controlled type 1 diabetes
- have type 2 diabetes with bad diabetic care
- have a history of unstable blood sugar levels
- have had diabetic ketoacidosis
- have severe conditions such as kidney disease or blood vessel issue
- are pregnant or have gestational diabetes
Risks of Fasting for People with Diabetes
People with type 1 diabetes may have problems in managing diabetes due to their use of insulin sensitizer and diabetes medication. The insulin dose needs to be adjusted with respect to the present blood glucose level; else, it can lead to the potential risks of hypoglycemia or high blood sugar levels.
Moreover, people with diabetes especially type 1 also have a higher risk of dehydration and diabetic ketoacidosis while fasting. Therefore, fasting may only be the option for them if their management of diabetes and blood sugar levels is perfect.
Pregnant women with gestational diabetes must be careful when they plan to fast, especially those who are not relying on diabetes medication and using insulin sensitizers instead. Pregnant women may also get dehydrated when fasting, which can impact their blood pressure. Specifically, in such cases, women must talk to their doctor before fasting and keep checking their blood sugar levels using a glucometer.
When fasting during Ramadan, people cannot consume any fluid which causes dehydration and it is one of the biggest concerns for people with diabetes. To help combat this issue, some people are also advised to take Oem Powder, Osmolar Powder, and Peditral Orange Sachet.
During the fasting period, people with diabetes can’t take medicines. This results in cutting down their diabetes medications, giving a higher potential risk of hypoglycemia. Also, if they cut back on too much insulin, they may have high blood sugar levels which can be the cause of hyperglycemia.
Safe Fasting Tips for People with Diabetes
Regardless of everything, if a diabetic individual wish to fast during Ramadan, there are some safety tips they need to adopt.
1. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is a safe option for people with diabetes who wish to fast as they tend to get dehydrated quickly. Take enough water (at least 8 glasses) during suhoor and after iftar meals, especially if Ramadan falls during the summer season. Try to stay cool and do not overdo any physical activity during the fasting period to avoid dehydration.
2. Avoid Overeating
When you fast for a long period of time, you have to ensure to not overeat when you break your fast. Eating too much after a daylong fast can cause high blood sugar levels. A sudden shoot-up of blood glucose can be hazardous to the body’s functions.
3. Test Blood Sugar Levels
Apart from dehydration, low and high blood sugar levels can be quite dangerous for you while fasting. Keep a check of your blood glucose using a glucometer. Be careful to watch out for the symptoms such as blurred vision, dizziness, irregular heart rate, and more. Additionally, never skip your diabetes medication in Ramadan to maintain your blood glucose.
4. Avoid Sugar, High-carb foods
Management of diabetes comes with the type of food you consume during Ramadan. If you want to keep your blood glucose from hitting the roof, make sure you do not stuff yourself with sugary and high-carb foods while breaking your fast. It is better to discuss your dietary changes with your physician beforehand to be sure of the right food choice for you during this month. If you are using any medicine for diabetic care, it could have an impact on your dosage.
5. Terminate Fast
You must terminate your fast immediately if you observe symptoms such as sweating, tremors, palpitation, dizziness, or symptoms of extreme dehydration. Break your fast and take a healthy meal in moderation.
6. Practice a Trial Run
The best method to check if you are healthy to fast is by practicing a trial run before Ramadan. This will help you to identify potential risks or problems you may come across when fasting. If you see the symptoms of dehydration, hypoglycemia, or hyperglycemia, fasting may not be the best option for you this month. Moreover, do not try to self-adjust medicine doses; always consult your doctor.
7. Do Take Suhoor
Skipping suhoor is not safe for people with diabetes. You must have a healthy pre-dawn meal packed with all the desired nutrients to keep you active and running throughout the day. Make sure you take the right amount of insulin as described by your doctor and do not skip your diabetes medication. If you miss your suhoor meal, you must not fast as it increases your chances of weakness, low energy, dehydration, and dizziness.
The Bottom Line
It is important to keep track of your blood glucose at home and continue a healthy and balanced diet if you wish to fast with diabetic care. If your doctor advises you against fasting, strictly follow him. Fasting in Ramadan is a religious obligation, but it doesn’t mean that you force it upon yourself and practice it even when your health suggests otherwise.