Healthy Ramadan fasting

By Dr. Sevdalina Velizarova, Specialist in Internal Medicine

Ramadan is the month of fasting, one of the five pillars of Islam. Fasting means abstinence: from eating, drinking, sexual relations, and all immoral vices from dawn to sunset.

Is fasting healthy?

Fasting has many spiritual benefits, but there are several physical advantages, too. It reduces blood sugar, insulin, and cholesterol levels, and improves weight loss. According to a new study, it also regenerates the entire immune system. Smoking is prohibited, so Ramadan is an opportunity to promote smoking cessation.

As clinicians, we need to establish whether fasting affects the patient’s health. Our job is to advise you on diet, medications, physical activity, and – sometimes – early warning signs.

Common complaints during Ramadan

Indigestion is a common problem among those who fast – particularly after the pre-dawn meal – and may disrupt usual sleeping patterns. Choose healthy foods, and avoid anything fatty or spicy. If you still experience this problem, try sleeping on raised pillows.

This is a commonly reported problem. Try a high fiber diet and ensure adequate intake of fluid during non-fasting hours. For example, bran cereal will help you limit the effects of constipation.

Common symptoms – such as aches and pains – continue to cause problems during Ramadan and may become even stronger because of dehydration and extra physical effort (for example, attending nightly congregational prayers). Where feasible, you should continue light exercise while fasting, and – once again – ensure good hydration during non-fasting hours. If you still need regular analgesia, take it with meals, at sunrise and sunset.

A challenge for clinicians is evaluating the safety of fasting for patients with diabetes. Associated risks include hypoglycemia (low sugar), hyperglycemia (high sugar), and dehydration.

For patients with diet-controlled diabetes, fasting may have a beneficial effect on health. Many patients with a tablet or insulin-dependent diabetes are however exempted from fasting, but for you who do fast, it is important to reduce the lability of blood sugar during the day and to eat regular, healthy meals during non-fasting hours. Considering this, Ramadan is an ideal motivator for a diabetes health check.

Most of the patients with heart disease may fast without difficulty, and highlighted data suggest that fasting may confer an improvement in certain aspects of cardiovascular disease. You should continue taking your regular medications, but alter the timings to avoid fasting hours.

Ramadan is an opportunity for health promotion

Ramadan is the month of spiritual renewal where many Muslims will pause to reflect on their lives in all spiritual, mental, and physical dimensions. As such, it is an ideal time to capitalize on this feeling of wellbeing to impart good health advice to patients.

Pre- & Post-Ramadan General health assessments

Make an appointment, let’s check your heart and sugar, cholesterol, electrolytes, and kidney function.

Ramadan Kareem from Al Das Medical family!

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