It’s important to stay healthy during Ramadan particularly for those with diabetes, so here is information provided by Dr Farhana Bin Lootah, Internal Medicine Specialist at Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC).
1. What happens to my body during fasting?
During fasting, at about eight hours after the last meal our bodies start to use energy stores to keep our blood glucose (sugar) levels normal. For most people, this is not harmful.
However for someone living with diabetes, especially if you take certain tablets or insulin, you are at risk of Hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels), Hypoglycaemia, (high glucose levels) and dehydration (lack of water).
2. Is there an increased risk of dehydration in hot countries, like the UAE?
Yes. Dehydration due to reduced intake of fluids may become severe in hot and humid climates like the UAE, especially among those who perform hard physical labour.
On top of this, Hyperglycaemia can result in the loss of body fluid through excessive urination, and contribute to depletion of electrolytes in the body.
People with pre-existing nerve damage may develop symptoms of low blood pressure like dizziness or light-headedness. This can lead to loss of consciousness and falls sometimes leading to injuries, such as bone fractures.
It is very important that fluid intake during non-fasting hours from Iftar through to Suhoor is maintained at a regular pace.
3. In the UAE it is very hot during Ramadan. What can people do if they wish to exercise during the Holy Month?
It is good to take some moderate exercise just before you break your fast at Iftar, and again just before going to bed, as well as right before Suhoor.
It will be quite warm during Ramadan this year and outdoor exercise might not always be the best option, so try climbing the stairs. Start slowly and gradually with two flights at a time and refrain from pushing yourself too hard during the first few days.
Of course, after the sun sets and just before dawn breaks a short but brisk walk for at least 10 minutes is a good practise to adopt during Ramadan.
If you decide to pop out to a mall in the evening, park farther away from the entrance, walk the extra distance, and also enjoy a brisk walk around the mall walkways before your embark on your seasonal shopping!
4. Do I need to wake up for Suhoor?
Yes. Long hours without eating increases the risk of Hypoglycaemia.
You must try to eat a meal at Suhoor just before sunrise and not at midnight as is common practice. This will help to keep your glucose levels more balanced throughout the fast.
5. Is it ok to test my blood glucose in Ramadan while I am fasting?
Yes, testing your blood glucose levels regularly is important and will keep you safe while fasting. This will not break your fast.
6. Should I stop taking insulin?
No. You should never stop your insulin. But you must speak to your doctor because you may need to change the dose and times of your insulin injections.
From ICLDC’s Dr Farhana Bin Lootah
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