Fasting during Ramadan: the health risks for diabetics

Dr Neesha Patel carried out the UK's first study on the experiences of Muslims with diabetes during Ramadan. Here, she answers questions about the practice, and the health implications

What does the act of fasting during Ramadan represent in Islam?

Ramadan is important for practicing Muslims, as it is one of the five pillars of Islam and the month in which the holy Quran was revealed. During Ramadan, Muslim people only eat two meals per day, once before sunrise (sehar) and one after sunset (iftar).

Should all Muslims fast during Ramadan?

The Islamic law states that the ‘sick’ can be exempt from fasting for one or all 30 days and give money to the poor, but some Muslims with diabetes may not perceive themselves as being ‘sick’ and will choose to fast. A tension will often exist among Muslims with diabetes who wish to observe Ramadan in accordance with their faith and the competing need to manage their health. This was evident in my recent research, which was the UK's first study on the beliefs and experiences of Muslims with diabetes during Ramadan.

Are there health benefits to fasting?

Fasting during Ramadan is a spiritual time that is believed to teach morals, self-discipline and a time for reflecting on one’s relationship with Allah and fellow people. Currently there are no national guidelines on the benefits of fasting for people with diabetes but there is some evidence to suggest that fasting may be beneficial to health in the general population.

Are there any health risks?

As Ramadan currently falls in the summer and spring months, and will do for the next eight years, daylight lasts between 17 and 19 hours, thus increasing the number of fasting hours. This poses extreme difficulty for Muslims with diabetes that need to eat and take medication regularly to maintain glyceamic control.

Short-term risks of fasting include poor diabetes control (high or low blood sugars levels) and dehydration.

Long-term risks include mortality, morbidity and reduced quality of life, but this needs further research to assess the size of the problem in the UK.

Some guidelines have been developed by clinicians working in diabetes to help identify patients at high, moderate and low risk with recommendations for education and pre-Ramadan medical assessments for all Muslim patients wishing to fast, in order the reduce the above risks.

What advice would you give to diabetic Muslims?

To contact Diabetes UK as they have produced culturally-sensitive material, in collaboration with the Muslim Council of Britain on managing diabetes safely for people who wish to fast. Diabetes UK also recommend that people discuss fasting with their General Practitioner for practical advice on altering their diet and medications, and to speak to their Imam, as Imams often provide support and guidance in accordance with the Quran.

Dr Neesha Patel is a psychologist at The University of Manchester

For further information visit:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/hex.12163/abstract

http://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/Managing-your-diabetes/Ramadan/

http://www.bmj.com/content/340/bmj.c3053?ijkey=RhP6GwQb5TAzfiq&keytype=ref

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

    Day In a Page

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture