Ramadan is a sacred month for the Muslims when Muslims worldwide fast from dawn to sunset, every day for the entire month. India is home to about 180 million Muslims and also to one of the largest population of diabetics.
Anyone who knows anything about diabetes or fasting will tell you they don’t go together. The Ramadan fast is a long one with the gap between meals ranging from 12 to 15 hours and this can pose a health problem for diabetes patients, since they are required to have timely meals. Some complications associated with fasting for diabetics include:
- Sudden fall in blood sugar levels, causing seizures and unconsciousness;
- Excessive increase in blood sugar levels causing blurry vision, headache, fatigue and thirst;
- Diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening complication causing vomiting, dehydration and coma; and
- Thrombosis which leads to formation of a blood clot inside blood vessels, potentially a precursor to organ damage and even death.
“If you are diabetic but still want to keep the fast during Ramadan, it is always better to consult your endocrinologist to take all necessary precautionary measures while fasting. Once you have the doctor’s approval, follow the diet and medication to keep your blood sugar levels under control during the entire month of fasting,” said Dr. Vikas Ahluwalia, Director – Max Diabetes and Obesity Center, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket.
“It is advisable to monitor their blood sugar levels at regular intervals in the day and consult their doctor if there is any noticeable change. Patients should consult their physician to discuss all factors including insulin dosage and any other medication prescribed,” he added.
Preparing for Ramadan:
- Consult your doctor a month in advance and follow the medical advice given on diet and medication. The type of food permitted and the frequency of monitoring will differ for each patient. The doctor might also regulate the dosage and timing of medication.
- At Iftar (meal after sunset), break your fast with sugar-free and decaffeinated fluids to avoid being dehydrated.
- Limit your consumption of sweets.
- Include fruits, vegetables, pulses and curd in your diet.
- Do not sleep right after dinner. Give a gap of at least two hours.
- At Sehri (pre dawn meal), have a wholesome meal consisting of whole grain bread, whole grain low sugar cereal, beans and lentils.
- Avoid deep fried food.
- Consume starchy foods like rice and wheat chapatti in moderation.