For those with diabetes, fasting during Ramadan can be a challenge to their health. Diabetes patients should always consult with their healthcare provider before going on a fast. Patients suffering from type-1 and type-2 diabetes may face multiple risks associated with blood glucose levels. Some of the various risks associated with diabetes and fasting include dangerously low blood glucose (hypoglycemia), extremely high blood glucose (hyperglycemia), diabetic ketoacidosis and thrombosis (blood clots).
Overview of complications associated with fasting and diabetes
Mentioned below is a brief overview of the various complications that occur in diabetes patients during Ramadan fasting:
- Diabetic ketoacidosis – When the body doesn’t have enough glucose, the cells start to burn fat instead, in order to
provide energy. This burning of fat produces a waste product known as ketones. Ketones turn the blood acidic which can be dangerous for the diabetes patient. The risk of this happening increases more when there is a reduction in the level of insulin in the blood. Insulin level reduces when the food intake reduces during fasting.
- Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia – Hypoglycemia is the fall of blood sugar levels below the normal range and hyperglycemia is the rise of blood sugar levels above the normal range which may lead to diabetic ketoacidosis in patients with type-1 diabetes.
- Dehydration and Thrombosis – Fasting during Ramadan can often result in dehydration due to lack of fluid intake. This causes blood to become thicker and result in clotting known as thrombosis. It is important for those fasting on Ramadan to drink plenty of water or fluids when they break their fast. Staying properly hydrated after breaking the fast can help in preventing dehydration and conditions associated with it.
Managing diabetes during Ramadan
Diabetes patients who wish to fast on Ramadan need to take certain steps in order to ensure that their health doesn’t deteriorate during this time. They also need to understand that fasting may not be recommended for all diabetes patients and one should consult a doctor before going on a fast.
Some of the steps that diabetes patients can follow during Ramadan fasting are –
- Monitor blood sugar level – It is extremely important for diabetes patients to check their blood sugar levels multiple times during the day if they choose to fast. This is especially important for patients who are on insulin. Ideally, it is recommended that they check their levels four times a day- between 10 AM and 11 AM, between 3 PM and 4 PM, 3 hours after breaking the fast or iftar, before Sahoor or eating during daybreak. If either hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia is noticed then one should break the fast immediately to prevent causing any more serious complications.
- Managing nutrition – During iftar or breaking the fast, it is recommended to avoid large meals rich in fat and
carbohydrates. The fast should be broken with a small amount of food with simple carbohydrates as they can be absorbed very quickly such as dates and milk. For the Sahoor meal or the meal that is taken before the fast, foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates are recommended such as whole grains and vegetables as they take more time to get digested and keep the body energized for longer hours.
- Exercise – Exercising during fasting, especially before Iftar is strictly not recommended as it can lead to hypoglycemia. People with diabetes should also avoid sleeping before Iftar so that they can remain cautious about signs of hypoglycemia as it is more likely to occur during the later hours of fasting.
Managing diabetes during Ramadan is all about planning and making smart choices to manage the condition better. The mfine app brings you the best specialists for online consultation the minute you need them. So, if you wish to consult with top dietitians regarding managing diabetes during Ramadan with a diet plan that is best suited for you, then get on the mfine app right away.