Scientific studies have proved that fasting is highly beneficial to people, including those suffering from diabetes, as it protects them from risks of developing cardiovascular diseases, cancer and hypertension, but people with diabetes must acquire pre-Ramazan education and consult their physicians for safe fasting in the month of Ramazan.
There are around 150 million Muslims living with diabetes all over the world, including 30-35 millions in Pakistan, of whom 90 per cent can keep fast provided they get prior education regarding their dietary plans, dose management of medicines and insulin, when and how to check their blood glucose levels and what should be done in case of low and high blood sugar levels while fasting.
People need to understand that fast is not broken by undergoing a lab test or checking blood sugar by pricking, having insulin or glucose injections even if they provide energy, as well as by getting medicines in the eyes and ears.
These observations were made by national and international experts and consultant diabetologists while speaking at the 5th International Diabetes and Ramadan Conference organised jointly by the Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology (BIDE), Karachi, and Ramadan Study Group in collaboration with the Diabetes and Ramadan (DAR) International Alliance here at the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan CPSP on Sunday.
Eminent diabetologists, including Dr Mohamed Hassanain, Chair DAR international Alliance from United Arab Emirates, Prof Mehmet Akif Buyukbese from Turkey, Prof Abdus Sammad Shera, honorary president of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Prof Abdul Basit, director at the BIDE and president of the IDF Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region, Prof Khalid Masood Gondal, vice chancellor, King Edward Medical University Lahore, and Dr Muhammad Yakoob Ahmedani, chairman of Ramadan Study Group, expressed their expert opinions on the issue of safe fasting during Ramazan.
In his presentation on “Benefits of fasting: Scientific Evidence”, Prof Mehmet Akif Buyukbese said fasting helps in weight loss from three to eight per cent which helps in hypertension management, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, prevents from different types of cancer by detoxifying the body and even prevents patients from rheumatoid arthritis.
“Studies have proved that those who fast live longer as it delays aging and extend longevity while fasting also improvise brain function, prevents the people who fast from mood disorders while it is also beneficial to the diabetics by reducing weight and reducing insulin resistance,” Dr Akif said but advised the diabetics to consult their physicians well before the advent of Ramazan to fast safely.
Dr Mohamed Hassanein, an Egyptian diabetologist, said that for people with diabetes, their doctor should be their guides and if their physician tells them not to fast during Ramazan as it would harm their health, they should listen to the health expert instead of their religious leader.
“But a vast majority of Muslims with diabetes can keep fast if they get pre-Ramazan education which should be focused on when a person can break fast, medication adjustment, blood glucose monitoring during fasting, fluids and dietary as well as exercise advice.”
Director BIDE Prof Dr Abdul Basit said a vast majority of people with diabetes in Pakistan keep fast irrespective of their health condition so it is the responsibility of their physicians and doctors to educate them well before the start of Ramazan on safe fasting practices, medication adjustment, blood sugar monitoring during fast, diet plans and exercise.
“Except for people with a very high risk, including those who have chronic heart or kidney diseases, who have to take oral medicines three to four times a day and those who have been advised to refrain from keeping fast, all other patients with diabetes can keep fast in consultation with their physicians and experts,” he said, adding that diabetics could check their blood sugar level by pricking as it would not break their fast.
“If the blood glucose level of a diabetes patient drops below 70 mg/dl while if the blood glucose level rises above 300 mg/dl with symptoms of hyperglycemia, such patients are also advised to break their fast,” Prof Basit said, adding that such patients would not need to have to offer Kaffara, and they would only have to keep a ‘Qaza Roza’.
Chairman Ramadan Study Group Prof Yakoob Ahmedani said pre-Ramazan education for the diabetic patients was a must and such patients should start preparing and consulting their physicians well before the start of Ramazan so that their doses could be adjusted and they could be guided on safe-fasting practices.
Prof Ahmedani maintained that for the last several years, they had been holding these diabetes and Ramazan conferences to create awareness among the Muslims so that they could fast without any complications.