Diabetics should Take Precautions While Fasting During Ramadan

Mumbai: Diabetics, who observe fast during Ramadan, the holiest month of Muslims, which commenced yesterday, should take precautions and some important measures need to be undertaken before one starts fasting, medical fraternity said.

Dr. Altamash Shaikh, leading Consultant Endocrinologist and Diabetologist and Metabolic Physician attached to Mumbai’s Saifee Hospital, said: “Though some patients are at a risk of developing complications such as Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) or Hyperglycemia (high blood clot formation), these can be tackled easily with the help of consultation and counseling by doctors. Not just this, some patients are also at a risk of developing severe dehydration and thrombosis (blood clot formation) while fasting, hence adequate amount of water and fluids are to be taken along with optimal control of blood glucose.”

Moreover, the rainy season begins in June and with it comes heat, humidity and the rains. “Local time zone and climate also play an important role in the management of diabetes,” Dr Shaikh opined.

Bangalore-based Obesity expert Dr. M.G. Bhat from Apollo Spectra and Manipal Hospital says that it is essential for all to realise that it is only a change in the habit.

“With the eating habits being reversed during Ramadan, he recommends plenty of fluid or water intake, during the times when eating is permissible.”

He not only cautions the people against over-eating during the period but also recommends them keeping away from the oily food. Dr Bhat is of the view that diabetics should continuously monitor their blood sugar levels while fasting during Ramadan.

Diabetes expert from Axis Hospital in Mumbai, Dr Saicharan, however, opined that diabetics should have starchy food as rice, chapatti or naan bread to stop hunger.

He suggested eating fruits, vegetables, pulses and yoghurt in meals at ‘Sehri’ just before sunrise and not at midnight. “This will help in keeping blood glucose levels of a fasting person more evenly balanced.”

However, Dr Saicharan cautioned against eating fried food and suggested lots of water and sugar free drinks.

In the case of Shahid Ahmed (name changed) — who is on multiple daily insulin regimen and tablets for diabetes treatment — frequent monitoring of blood glucose helped him to observe fast last year.

“Monitoring sugar level every day when needed, helps a person in managing diabetes and keeping it under control. Apart from education on the topic, their blood glucose control, hypertension (blood pressure) control, dyslipidemia (cholesterol) needs to be ascertained and addressed,” Dr Shaikh added.

During Ramadan, diabetics should prefer to partake two meals in a day — before sunrise in morning and after sunset in the evening. However, Dr. Shaikh cautioned that diabetics should not take heavy meals or fried foodstuffs, syrups and sweets.

“Instead they should resort to a healthy and a balanced food which has lot of fibre. Generally, high carbohydrate intake has to be avoided. Even honey and sweetened condensed milk has to be avoided during Ramadan fasting period.”

“However, natural sugars may be consumed in the form of fruits, avoiding their juices,” he said.

“Diabetic patients are allowed to have lime juice and butter milk. With 30 per cent proteins, 40 to 50 per cent carbohydrates, 20 per cent fats, Yusuf Merchant, a diabetic, did well during the fasting period of Ramadan,” Dr Shaikh emphasised.

It is highly recommended that diabetics should exercise as this proves to be beneficial to them during the fasting period of Ramadan.

According to Dr. Shaikh, walk in the evening hours and going to gym for physical exercise and body tone up is beneficial for keeping blood sugar levels of a diabetic person under control.