by Sujatha Nanjundeshwara
A majority of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide fast without having food or drink from dawn to sunset during Ramzan.
If you are one amongst them, but suffer from diabetes and cardiovascular illnesses and yet want to fast, here are a few precautions you can take to avoid making the illness worse or delaying recovery.
Plan ahead with your physician: While many diabetics do fast safely, it is advisable if you can schedule a doctor’s appointment before Ramzan to discuss how fasting might affect your diabetes. They may be of help in suggesting a change in your medication plan.
This also holds good if you are a heart patient; your cardiologist will be able to guide you to fix the timing and dosage of medications to avoid complications later. He might also recommend substituting your daily medicines with long lasting ones to compensate for the daily 15 hour fasting time.
Limit physical activity during fasting: If you are taking insulin or other diabetes pills, you might be at risk of running low blood glucose. To avoid this situation, you could avoid stretching yourself physically during fasting hours & instead become more active post sunset.
All heart patients can also keep chest pain and shortness of breath at bay, by following the same drill.
Stick to the diet: Each evening meal during Ramzan becomes a family celebration with lots of sweets lying around. Now is the time to keep those portions small and stop yourself from indulging your sweet tooth. Limit dates to 1-2 each evening; pick whole grains, lean sources of meat, fish and poultry, small amounts of heart healthy fats as your Ramzan food choices.
Heart patients who eat smaller portions of food will also benefit from beneficial hormonal and metabolic changes which will increase production of good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol. In the bargain, you might end up knocking off those extra pounds as well!
Beat that dehydration: On long, hot days you are bound to feel thirsty and dehydrated. Take frequent sips of sugar free and non- caffeine drinks throughout the evening and before dawn as well.
Monitor blood glucose levels throughout the day: Blood glucose levels falling below levels of 70mg/ dl are a red flag while those shooting above 300 are a danger sign too and fast should be immediately broken in either scenario. To ensure you don’t fall into either category, you need to monitor your blood sugar levels promptly.
If you have a heart condition that requires constant professional observation, ensure you get medical clearance from your physician before you decide to embark on the Ramzan fast.
To summarize, if you suffer from diabetes or heart conditions , ensure you undergo pre-Ramzan health assessment, receive proper medical instructions on physical activity, meal planning, health monitoring, dosage and timing of medications before you get started with the Ramzan fasts.
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