Fasting during the month of Ramadan can be good for your health if it’s done correctly.
When the body is starved of food, it starts to burn fat so that it can make energy. This can lead to weight loss. However, if you fast for too long your body will eventually start breaking down muscle protein for energy, which is unhealthy.
Dr Razeen Mahroof, an anaesthetist from Oxford, says there’s a strong relationship between diet and health.
“Ramadan isn’t always thought of as being an opportunity to lose weight because the spiritual aspect is emphasised more generally than the health aspect,” he says. “However, it’s a great chance to get the physical benefits as well.”
Click here to watch a video giving advice by Dr Toni Tonkin on living well during Ramadan.
Fasting for Ramadan when you have Diabetes:
The Qur’an requires Muslims to fast during the month of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset.
However, there are exceptions to this. One of them is that people who are ill or have medical conditions do not have to fast. This includes people with diabetes. To find out more about this, you can speak to your Imam.
From 2014, for the next several years Ramadan in the UK is in the summer months and the length of fasts is very long (17 hours or more). Long fasts put you at higher risk of hypoglycaemia and dehydration, which can make you ill.
Ultimately, it is a personal choice whether or not to fast. However, if you do choose to fast, then you must consult your doctor or healthcare team before Ramadan, to make sure that you are able to look after yourself properly. Failing to do so is in itself contrary to the Qur’an, which clearly states that you must not act in a way that harms your body.
This information will help you reduce the risks of becoming ill during Ramadan if you decide to fast, as well as highlighting the dangers of fasting for people with diabetes.
If, after consulting with your doctor, you decide to fast:
- If you are taking insulin, you will require less insulin before the start of the fast
- The type of insulin may also need changing from your usual type
- Pre-mixed insulin is not recommended during fasting
- Before starting the fast, you should include more slowly absorbed food (low GI), such as rice, pitta bread and dhal, in your meal, along with fruit and vegetables
- Check your blood glucose levels more often than you normally would
- When you break the fast, have only small quantities food, and avoid only eating sweet or fatty foods
- Try to eat just before sunrise, when you commence the next day’s fast
- At the end of fasting you should drink plenty of sugar-free and decaffeinated fluids to avoid being dehydrated.