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The holy month of Ramadan is about to begin in a couple of days, heralding a time of spiritual reflection, self-discipline, fasting and devotion for Muslims worldwide. Fasting for Ramadan has many benefits as it gives digestive system the much-needed rest, prevents metabolic disorders and detoxifies the body, helping in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. However, people with diabetes, if fasting on Ramadan must be careful to introduce the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes to prevent blood sugar spikes and risk of complications. Hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar levels is one of the health risks that fasting without food and water may pose to an individual with diabetes. (Also read | Ramadan 2024: When does Ramzaan start? Check date, time, and iftar details)

Ramadan fasting 2024: Individuals with diabetes need to manage their condition effectively during this time to ensure a safe and risk-free Ramadan.(Freepik)

It is important to include all food groups and have a balanced diet during both Suhoor and Iftaar. It is important to ensure hydration during non-fasting hours to ensure all your body functions work well. If you feel signs like dizziness, blurry vision, or an irregular heartbeat, you must immediately break your fast and consult your doctor. Stay active during the day and rest well at night for maintaining wellness.

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During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast for 30 days, which can last for 15 hours or more daily. Individuals with diabetes need to manage their condition effectively during this time to ensure a safe and risk-free Ramadan.

Here are some tips by Dr Apoorva Garg, BeatO Care (Operations) to help manage diabetes during Ramadan fasting.

Risks during Ramadan fasting

Dr Garg shares possible diabetic complications that could arise out of fasting without food and water for long hours.

Hypoglycaemia: This is a condition where blood sugar levels drop below the normal range due to fasting. It can happen to both diabetics and non-diabetics during fasting due to a lack of sufficient glucose in the blood.

Hyperglycaemia: This is a condition where blood sugar levels go above the normal range. People with diabetes are at risk of experiencing hyperglycaemia during Ramadan. This may be due to dysregulation of the normal circadian hormonal patterns resulting in increased hepatic glucose output.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis: When a person with diabetes is unable to get glucose from food for energy, their body begins breaking down fat instead. This fat breakdown makes chemicals called ketones. Too many ketones in the blood can make it acidic, leading to a dangerous condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. The high acidity can cause serious problems if not treated promptly.

Best foods for fasting

Suhoor (pre-dawn meal): It’s important to eat a balanced meal before dawn to keep your energy levels up throughout the day. Some good options are fish, chicken, low-fat dairy like yoghurt, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains like rice and whole wheat bread.

Iftaar (meal after fasting): The meal after sunset should fill you up without weighing you down. Go for foods that provide carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fibre and more. Baking or grilling foods uses less oil and is better than frying. You may want to wait a bit before indulging in sweets or desserts right after breaking your fast.

Tips for managing diabetes during Ramadan fasting

  • Be sure to check your blood sugar levels regularly. This helps avoid problems.
  • Watch for signs like feeling dizzy, blurry vision, or an irregular heartbeat. If you have symptoms, stop fasting right away.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water during Suhoor and Iftaar. Drink 8-10 glasses total.
  • Also, limit time outside, especially in hot places. Try to stay indoors as much as possible.
  • Don’t overeat when breaking your fast at Iftaar. This can cause your blood sugar to spike.
  • Stay active by including moderate exercise in your routine. Find what works best for you, but avoid strenuous exercise.
  • Talk to your dietitian or doctor about fasting. Let them know your plans. You may need changes to medication or treatment during Ramadan.

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