KARACHI: National and international health experts recently noted fasting in the holy month of Ramadan is highly beneficial for health as it helps in weight reduction that helps in better sugar control and maintaining blood pressure, enhances heart health, helps the body to fight inflammation, and also improves mental health by preventing people from plunging into depression, anxiety, and stress.
They said millions of people with diabetes – mostly Muslims and even some non-Muslims keep fast in the holy month of Ramadan, but they should consult their physicians before the start of Ramadan, get their daily dose of medicines adjusted, and learn about dietary modifications to get the most benefits of fasting and remain safe and healthy during and after the month of fasting.
Warning people with uncontrolled sugar and poor diabetes management not to fast without the permission of their physicians, experts said people with poor diabetes management and those with other chronic ailments including heart conditions and renal issues should talk to their medical consultants. If advised otherwise, they should refrain from fasting.
They were speaking at 6th International Diabetes and Ramadan Online Conference, organized by the Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology (BIDE), Karachi, which was watched by over 10,000 people from around the globe including Pakistan, Middle East, United States, various European countries, and several Islamic states on different social media platforms.
Experts from the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, as well as Pakistan delivered lectures on different aspects of diabetes and Ramadan while more national and international experts would be delivering talks and their experiences regarding fasting and cardiovascular diseases, renal issues, as well as mental health.
Speaking on ‘Role of pre-Ramadan diabetes education, lessons learned’, Prof Dr Khaled Tayyeb from Saudi Arabia said people with diabetes need to consult their doctors before the month of Ramadan and get prior education on how to take their medicine, insulin, and what to eat during fasting so that they could keep fast safely and prevent themselves from any harm.
“Millions of Muslim diabetics around the globe keep fast during the holy month of Ramadan for its spiritual and health benefits but many of them can face serious health issues without consulting their doctors as the medicines they are taking can cause serious damage if their dosage is not reduced and adjusted during the month of fasting. However, those who get prior education and follow the instructions can reap the benefits of fasting in the holy month,” Dr Tayyeb added.
Chairman of the International Diabetes and Ramadan conference, Prof Yakoob Ahmedani, spoke about the health benefits of the fasting. He added that not only Muslims but thousands of non-Muslims were also keeping fasts to reap the health benefits of fasting, saying that at least 15 hours of fasting for 30 days can provide immense health benefits to people, including patients of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and mental issues.
“Fasting can be highly beneficial for people with diabetes if they follow the instructions of their physicians as 30 days’ fasting help in weight reduction, which is the root cause of almost all the Non-Communicable Diseases (CVDs) including diabetes, hypertension, cardiac ailments, renal issues, and many other health issues,” he added.
Claiming that fasting helps in improving mental health, he said it is now a proven fact that fasting prevents people from depression, anxiety, and stress and added that fasting is also highly beneficial for cancer prevention.
Another renowned diabetologist, Dr Zahid Miyan, discussed fasting for people on insulin and added that those who are using insulin to control their diabetes could fast, but they should ensure that they monitor their sugar levels five times a day and would be ready to break their fast if their blood sugar gets too low or very high.
“There are over four to five million people in Pakistan who are using insulin for controlling diabetes. These people keep fast, but they should promise to their physicians that if their sugar drops to 70 or reaches 300, they would break their fast,” Dr Miyan said, adding that monitoring sugar during fast by pricking is permissible.
Several other experts, including renowned dietitian from the UK, Salma Meher, Dr Rayyaz Malik from Qatar, Dr Saiful Haq from Karachi, Dr Uzma Khan from the United States, and Dr Muhammad Zafar Abbasi from the BIDE Karachi also spoke on occasion. Several students from the BIDE also presented their research papers on the occasion.