Is it healthy for a diabetic person to keep Roza?

The holy month of Ramzan, is ardently followed by Muslims around the world, wherein they fast from dawn till sunset without consuming food and water. Though people who are old, pregnant or suffering from chronic ailments are not supposed to keep fast, a few people still keep one.

What are the risks?

While fasting has its own benefits, it is advised that people with high sugar levels should consult the doctor before fasting. When diabetic people go on for long hours without food and water, a few changes take place in their body.

When you fast for more than eight hours since your last meal, your body starts using up the stored up energy to keep your blood glucose levels normal. While this is not harmful for most people, diabetic people, especially if you have been asked to take certain tablets or insulin, develop the risk of hypoglycaemia (hypos meaning short). As a result, the sugar level in your blood becomes low.

Another problem that might occur from fasting is the risk of high glucose level, when you have a large meal before and after fasting that is during Sehri and Iftar. Hypos, high glucose levels and dehydration can be dangerous for people with diabetes.

For diabetic patients suffering from severe insulin deficiency, a long fast coupled with the absence of adequate insulin will result in an excessive breakdown of glycogen and an increase in gluconeogenesis and ketogenesis, which leads to hyperglycemia and ketoacidosis.

Who stands greater risks?

Hence, those suffering from Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes with poor blood sugar control, those with a recent history of severe low blood sugar or diabetic ketoacidosis, recurring low blood sugar, those with conditions such as severe kidney disease or blood vessel complications and women diagnosed with gestational diabetes stand a high risk of complications when observing roza.

What to keep in mind?

It is advised that if you are diabetic people and choose to observe roza, then you should closely monitor your blood sugar, adjust your medication doses and watch out for signs of low blood sugar. You should also adhere to your doctor's advice regarding food, drink and exercise.