Ramadan 2023 and diabetes: Diabetics fasting this Ramzaan should watch out for these symptoms
People with diabetes who are fasting during Ramadan must speak to their doctors beforehand to reduce risk and control blood sugar better. People with uncontrolled diabetes, who are on a high dose of insulin, elderly people and children with diabetes should watch out for these symptoms
Ramadan, the ninth month of Islamic lunar calendar is also known as Ramzan, Ramazan or Ramzaan and is the holiest month where Muslims across the world abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and evil thoughts and action from dawn until sunset as they observe a fast between dawn and sunset and then break it at iftar time with family and friends. Sehri is the first meal of the day before sunrise and it needs to be planned well to keep your health in check since adequate hydration, eating nutrient-dense foods and avoiding high-sugar and calorie-dense foods can help manage diabetes during the fast.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Caterina Pesenti, Head of Medical and Scientific Affairs, IMEA at Roche Diabetes Care, cautioned, “It is important to note that even with regular glucose monitoring, nobody with diabetes should fast without consulting their doctor first. For people with diabetes, regular blood glucose level evaluation is critical during Ramadan to ensure safe fasting. They should have adequate tools and knowledge to carry out self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG). SMBG allows one to focus better during Ramadan and enjoy this time of reflection and community.”
She pointed out, “In addition to SMBG, people with diabetes should be instructed on how to recognise the symptoms of hypoglycaemia, such as tremors, sweating, headaches, nausea, an irregular or fast heartbeat, and hyperglycaemia, such as increased hunger or thirst, fatigue, restlessness, and dry mouth. They need to be especially vigilant about these symptoms if they are fasting and be prepared to break the fast if their health requires it.”
Ritika Samaddar, Nutritionist and Regional Head - Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics at Max Healthcare, advised, “People with diabetes who are fasting during Ramadan must speak to their doctors beforehand to reduce risk and control blood sugar better. People with uncontrolled diabetes, who are on a high dose of insulin, elderly people and children with diabetes should avoid fasting. It is important to not skip the Suhoor (predawn) meal. A high fibre and protein-rich diet, with a low glycaemic index, is recommended.”
She recommended, "Eating porridge (oats/dahlia), lentils like chickpeas (kabuli chana), or beans (like rajma) with vegetables and some fruits are helpful. In addition to this, hydration is important. Drink enough liquids, which are sugar-free and low on caffeine, to avoid fluctuation in blood sugar levels. People with diabetes can also break the fast (Iftar) with dates as done traditionally, however limiting to only 2-3 dates. This must be followed by good hydration and a balanced diet that is rich in protein and fibre to help control blood sugar levels. Also, self-monitoring of blood glucose is key for those fasting. Happy Ramadan!"