Ramadan fasting: major benefits, risks

Ramadan fasting: major benefits, risks

Lahore (Web Desk): Muslim across will be participating in the month-long Ramadan fast from May 26 to June 24.

The fast means no fluids (including water), food, caffeine or tobacco during daylight hours.

In recent years, the benefits of intermittent fasting have been well-publicised, what happens when we fast for extended periods and how does fasting affect those with health problems?

The good news for all is that Ramadan poses no danger to healthy people (apart from caffeine-withdrawal headaches and the potential for dehydration if you're not careful), but it can be risky for those with existing health conditions like diabetes. 

Experts explains that Ramadan fasting is associated with short-term improvements in good HDL cholesterol, and reductions in bad LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol (although not in people who have diabetes).

Unsurprisingly, Ramadan has been found to lower body weight, body fat percentage and BMI (body mass index) in the short term. 

However, the long-term effects of Ramadan fasting on these risk factors remains uncertain (and unstudied). It can also be problematic for the blood glucose levels of people with diabetes.

It can also be beneficial, if managed correctly.

Intermittent fasting can be beneficial for blood glucose levels and diabetes management, but if you're on certain medications then you need to be prepared.

Experts reveal that Australian Muslims living with diabetes can put themselves at risk of serious health complications (including hyperglycaemia, hypoglycaemia and blood clots) by fasting without adequate preparation and care. 

Around the world, a large number of people have diabetes but despite the risks, about half (43 per cent) with type 1 diabetes and most (79 per cent) of those with type 2 diabetes still fast during Ramadan.

However, many of those with diabetes who choose to fast even when advised not to (often because of family or social pressure) are reluctant to talk with their doctor.

Experts remind that those who are unwell, pregnant or travelling are exempt from fasting and experts instead suggests they participate by donating what they would normally spend on food to a charity. Those who wish to fast can minimise their risk of health complications by planning.

Experts explain, recommending regular blood glucose checks that the nature of the Ramadan changes in eating patterns can cause major changes in blood glucose levels considering the longer gaps between meals and the concentrated nature of the feasting. 

Expert advises against overindulging Despite a tendency to eat in excess and eat more fatty, fried foods during the nightly feast.

Best way is that to break your fast with the traditional sunset snack of two dates, a glass of water and a bowl of soup,this prophetic tradition provides an instant energy boost and helps settle your hunger. So it's meant to benefit your body and to benefit you spiritually, so eating junk food is not part of the main idea of Ramadan.

Experts suggest sticking to the "healthy plate model" at meal times. We usually say to people carbohydrates should fill one quarter of your plate, protein the other quarter and vegetables should fill half the plate. 

Best advises for those with diabetes are to check in with their doctor or diabetes educator to plan each day and know when to take insulin or other diabetes medication, which may be timed according to meal times.

Health professionals respect your commitment to your faith, but it needs to be within the context of your health, so let them know to allow them to make necessary changes in their doses.