Fasting is good for diabetics, say experts

Palestinian girl reads the holy Qura'an at sunset in Gaza City, in this July 4, 2014 photo.

Palestinian girl reads the holy Qura’an at sunset in Gaza City, in this July 4, 2014 photo.

A senior official from the Ministry of Health said on Sunday that fasting would help diabetics type 2 to regulate their glucose levels.

Speaking in the ‘Hello Ramadan’ program on Sunday, Dr. Eman Shasha, an endocrinologist, said fasting is beneficial for diabetics type 2 patients. She added that it is not advisable for insulin-dependent patients to fast during the holy month since they are likely to be suffering from other chronic ailments related to diabetes.

The phone-in program, ‘Hello Ramadan’ was launched last week with its first program entitled ‘Your Health in Ramadan’ to receive people’s inquiries regarding various health problems they encounter during the holy month of Ramadan.

The year, the program is focused on ensuring Muslims maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle and will stress on the importance of taking prescribed doses of medication in a timely manner during the holy month. The service is available on the toll free number 800 249 4444. It will be operated in Arabic and is open to the public from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.

A panel of specialist doctors in various fields will take questions from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays throughout the month. The physicians will also interact with the public through social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

“Diabetics in general should follow medical advice strictly when they fast during this month,” Shasha said, adding that doctors prescribe the dose of insulin they should take during the non-fasting period. She also explained that diabetics could experience low blood sugar or hypoglycemia during the period of fasting with symptoms including shivering, excessive perspiration, dizziness, and sugar levels dropping to 60 or 70 mg at the beginning of the day.

“In such instances, the person should break their fast immediately. “Diabetics should have small meals frequently between the iftar and suhoor period,” she added.

Meanwhile, Mukhtar Khan, who has done extensive research on diabetes and is currently working as a Research Coordinator at the Medical and Rehabilitation Consultancy House, Riyadh, ridiculed the idea that fasting during Ramadan carries health risks for diabetics.

He was referring to an article, “Fasting during Ramadan: The health risks for diabetics” published in the Independent, UK dated July 4, 2014 with questions and answers by Dr. Neesha Patel, a psychologist at Manchester University.

“Fasting is actually beneficial for diabetics, if properly planned with patients being advised by their doctors on dietary management,” Dr. Khan said.

He further said, “There are several scientific research works published in journals of international repute, which prove the health benefits of fasting for diabetic patients.”

He added that some diabetics who are prone to hypoglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis and dehydration need close supervision by doctors to avoid any health risks.

Reacting to the article, Akhtar Ul-Islam Nadwi, a Riyadh-based Indian businessman who is also a diabetic, said: “This health risk study by Patel is just scare mongering as I feel more energetic during Ramadan.”

Commenting on the part of the article that says a tension often exists among Muslims with diabetes who wish to observe Ramadan in accordance with their faith and the competing need to manage their health he observed that diabetics are well aware of the risks and precautions.

“With my experience, I can say that fasting actually controls diabetes during Ramadan,” he said.

In a reply to the long-term risks counted in the article which include mortality, morbidity and reduced quality of life, he said that millions of people have observed fasting safely for more than a thousand years since the advent of Islam. He added that fasting is not meant to create excessive hardships on Muslims.




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