Religious Fasting and Diabetes

Religious Fasting and Diabetes

Religious Fasting and Diabetes – Effect of Fasting on Diabetes

What is the Effect of Fasting on Diabetes? What happens to your body when fasting? How will fasting effect your diabetic medicine. Find out more about Religious Fasting and Diabetes from Diabetes Expert Preeti Jain. Fasting with diabetes: what every diabetic should know?

effects of fasting on diabetes - Nutritionist Preeti Jain
Effects of fasting on diabetes


People fast for many reasons. Some people like to take a day off from eating after the holidays to give their digestive system a break. Some people fats to lose weight. Many people fast for religious reasons. Any fast that lasts for a longer period of time is dangerous, whether you have diabetes or  not. If a fast lasts more than a week, you run the risk of your body breaking down muscle to get the amino acids it so desperately needs. long term fasting can also damage your heart , liver, kidneys.


The purpose of fasting:

Fasting is a body cleansing procedure during which food is restricted and only liquids are consumed. Strictly water fasts are the most brutal; herbal teas and juices made from fresh fruits and vegetables are consumed during a more liberal fast. Juice fasting is the preferred method amongst many doctors and European fasting clinics, perhaps because it is less harsh than other treatment plans. Today in western hemisphere, many chronic health problems result from bad eating habit. There are a mix of people who are over nourished, malnourished, or both. We eat chemically altered, high fat toxic foods that do not provide a sufficient amount of essential vitamins to our bodies. Clogging of the eliminative systems with excess mucus is thought to sustain congestive diseases. Ineffective digestion and poor nourishment result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies. A well-balanced diet can overcome this health crisis. A diet of raw foods and fluids help cleanse the body and fasting takes the cleansing a step further.


What happens to your body during fasting?

The changes that occur in the body during fasting depends on the length of the continuous fast. Usually your body enters into fasting state eight or so hours after the meal. Your body will initially use stored sources of glucose and then later in the fast it will break down body fat to use as the next source of energy. Using your body’s fat stores as an energy source can in the long run help to reduce your cholesterol levels and blood pressure as well as your weight. Losing weight, particularly if you are overweight can also lead to better control of diabetes. However, fasting should not be used as a way of losing weight in the long term.


Diabetes and fasting: does type matter?

Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, fasting needs to be approached with care. Fasting should be rare if you have diabetes because an individual with type 1 or type 2 on oral medication can experience hypoglycemia(low blood sugar). Risks from low blood sugar include seizures, coma, or even death if left untreated.
On the other hand, depending on the individual, fasting without using insulin can result in high blood pressure or in diabetic ketoacidosis. Dehydration is another fear if fluids are avoided during fasting.
Therefore in general type 1 diabetic should never fast. While type 2 diabetic can fast with some restrictions.


Diabetes and fasting: does the reason make a difference?

Religious reasons. Some people with diabetes may want to fast for religious observance such as Hindu, Jain fast or Ramazan. Given the risky nature of fasting with diabetes, this isn’t necessarily a good idea. Both (Hinduism and Islam) have guidelines that exempt those people who will be affected with harmful health consequence by fasting. If you are determined to fast , consult your doctor or diabetes educator to put a plan in place at least a month or two before actual fast. Medication dosage should be discussed, as well as how often to test before the actual fast. Medication dosage should be discussed, as well as how often to test your blood sugar and what to do if your blood sugar is too low or too high.
Also keep In mind that the fasting itself may not be the only issue to plan for. Medication timing is also important. During religious fasts you may be able to eat a meal at various times (pre-dawn or sunset), which can affect when you need to take insulin or oral medication to control your blood sugars.

Fasting with diabetes: what every diabetic should know

Like most diabetics, you try to deal with your disease proactively. You have regular check ups, take your medications as prescribed, exercise on a regular basis, and try to stick to a stringent diabetic diet. So what do you do if you want or need to eat fast? Since both healthy and diabetic people may have reasons to fast from time to time, its important for diabetics to understand what effects fasting can have their overall health and well being before attempting to do so.
Once it is established that you will be fasting , and you are diabetic patient, you should consult with your physician to determine if it is safe for you to fast and how to correctly go about it.

If you are fasting for religious reasons, you will most likely find that it is perfectly fine not to do so, especially if safety issues are involved the kinds of issue your doctors has already made you aware of pregnant women with gestational diabetes should not fast because it is unsafe to do so. Other reasons not to fast for religious purposes are if you have recently suffered a heart attack, you have a cold, the flu or some other infection or if you have a difficult time controlling your blood sugar under normal non-fasting condition. Should your doctor give you the go ahead to fast and that you understand what medications should not be taken during your fasting period. Your doctor will also tell you to check your blood sugars often, and instruct you as to what to do if your blood sugar gets too high or too low. Should your blood sugar gets too high or too low. Should your blood sugar begin dropping too low at any time during your fast, you should stop fasting immediately.


Once you have been cleared for fasting, the next big question that should be on your mind is:

How will fasting affect your diabetes medicine?

As a diabetic, you have done your homework, and you know the role that insulin plays in regulating blood sugar. You should also know that if you refrain from eating or drinking for prolonged periods, insulin will cause your blood sugar to get too low. The same rule applies for many diabetic medications that are taken at meal times. Make sure your prescriber goes over each of your meals and clearly notates which ones you should or should not take, either right before or during of your fast. Being that tends to change the rules on blood sugar control, your doctor may also alter the dose of your diabetic drugs( the dose will usually be lower)as well as the time of day you should take them.


What things should you watch out for when you fast?

Here are some of the things you need to watch for when fasting. First and foremost, that blood sugar you keep such a close eye on each and every day may get too low during fast. Make sure you check your blood sugar often. As you may already know from experience low blood sugar can make you feel nauseated, shaky, confused, cold and sweaty. You may also experience a rapid heartbeat that can be fairly scary. That’s why before you fast you need to ask your prescriber two critical questions, the first being, what blood sugar number is too low for you? The second and most critical question is, what do you do if your blood sugar gets too low? As to the 1st question, that number can depend on a number of factors, but in general terms, blood glucose numbers between 70 and 90 mg/dl are considered red flags for low blood sugar. Whenever you fast, always keep a good sugar source with you at times, such as fruit juice, glucose tablets, hard candies, or crackers, just in case your blood sugar drops too low.
As strange as it may seem, abnormally high blood sugar during fasting can pose a real problem for other types of diabetics. For people with type 1 diabetes, this scenario can be extremely dangerous. If you have type 1 diabetes, rely on your prescriber to tell you what insulin adjustments to make while fasting. Although you still need to take some insulin the dose will usually be lower.
Finally, it cannot be emphasized be enough how important it is that you consult your physician if you have diabetes and plan to fast for any length of time. For those with or without diabetes, mounting evidence shows that fasting can be a cleansing and healthy experience for your body. The key for diabetics is to fast as safely as possible.


by Preeti Jain


About Preeti Jain

Academically Preeti is a graduate in food science and nutrition with specialization in dietetics. She is currently pursuing her post graduation in clinical nutrition and dietetics with a specialization in cardiac and diabetes nutrition. Along with this, Preeti is also a certified diabetes educator. She has worked as health manager, diabetes educator and weight loss counselor at cheenykum (project by exemplar healthcare pvt limited). Currently Preeti is working on the biggest Zumba Fitness Research Work - To Study The Effects Of Zumba Fitness and Dietary Modifications on Weight Loss and Other Health and Fitness Parameters. Apart from this, Preeti is also working as a Diabetic Educator at Shreya Diabetes Centre. Preeti’s vision is to help people stay healthy by following a healthy diet and active lifestyle along with educating people about lifestyle disease and ways to overcome it.

1 Comment

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