Karachi-Scientific studies have proved that fasting is highly beneficial for people including those suffering from diabetes as it prevents them from risks of developing cardiovascular diseases to cancer, hypertension management by reducing weight, improves brain function and prevent people from mood disorders and other chronic ailments.

People having diabetes, however, must acquire pre-Ramazan education and consult their physicians for safe fasting in the holy month.

There are around 150 million Muslims living with diabetes all over the world including 30-35 million in Pakistan, of which 90 percent can keep fast in their holy month of Ramadan provided they get prior education regarding their dietary plans, medicines and insulin dose management, when and how to check their blood glucose levels and what should be done in case of low and high blood sugar levels while fasting.

People needs to understand that fast is not broken by undergoing lab test or checking blood sugar by pricking, having insulin or glucose injections even if they provide energy, getting medicines in the eyes and ears while those breaking the fast as the advice from doctors would not have to offer ‘Kafara’ as they would only be required to keep fast when they feel themselves healthy and fit again.

These observations were made by national and international experts and consultant diabetologists while speaking at 5th International Diabetes and Ramadan Conference, organised jointly by Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology (BIDE), Karachi and Ramadan Study Group in collaboration with Diabetes and Ramadan (DAR) International Alliance here at College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) here on Sunday.

Eminent diabetologists including Dr Mohamed Hassanain, Chair DAR international Alliance from United Arab Emirates, Prof Mehmet Akif Buyukbese from Turkey, Prof Abdus Sammad Shera, Honorary President of International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Prof Abdul Basit, Director BIDE and President IDF Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region, Prof Khalid Masood Gondal, Vice Chancellor King Edward Medical University Lahore and Dr Muhammad Yakoob Ahmedani, Chairman Ramadan Study Group, expressed their expert opinion on the issue of safe fasting during holy month of Ramadan.

In his presentation on “Benefits of fasting: Scientific Evidence” Prof Mehmet Akif Buyukbese from Turkey said fasting helps in weight loss from 3 to 8 percent which helps in hypertension management, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, prevents from different types of cancers by detoxifying the body and even prevents patients from rheumatoid arthritis.

“Studies have proved that those who fast live longer as it delays aging and extend longevity while fasting also improvise brain function, prevents the people who fast from mood disorders while it is also beneficial for the diabetics by reducing weight reducing insulin resistance”, Dr Akif said.

 but advised the diabetics to consult their physicians well before advent of holy month of Ramadan to fast safely.

Another international expert, Dr. Mohamed Hassanein, an Egyptian diabetologist trained in UK said for people with diabetes, their doctor should be their Imam and if their physician tells them not to fast during Ramadan as it would harm their health, they should listen to their the health expert instead of their religious leader.

“But in majority of cases, a vast majority of Muslims with diabetes can keep fast if they get pre-Ramadan education which should be focused on when a person can break fast, medication adjustment, blood glucose monitoring during fasting, fluids and dietary as well as exercise advice”, he informed.

Renowned diabetologist and Director BIDE Prof Dr Abdul Basit said a vast majority of people with diabetes in Pakistan keep fast irrespective of their health condition so it is the responsibility of their physicians and doctors to educate them well before the start of Ramadan on safe fasting practices, medication adjustment, blood sugar monitoring during fast, diet plans and exercise.

“Except for people with very high risk including those who have chronic heart or kidney diseases, have to take oral medicines three to four times a day and those who have been advised to refrain from keeping fast, all other patients with diabetes can keep fast in consultation with their physician and experts”, Prof Basit said, adding diabetics could check their blood sugar level by pricking as it would not break their fast.

“If the blood glucose level of a diabetes patient drops below 70 mg/dl while if the blood glucose level rises above 300 mg/dl with symptoms of hyperglycemia, such patients are also advised to break their fast”, Prof. Basit said, adding that such patients would not need to have offer Kaffara, and they would only have to keep ‘Qaza Roza’.

Chairman, Ramadan Study Group and eminent diabetologist Prof Yakoob Ahmedani said pre-Ramadan education for the diabetic patients was a must and such patients should start preparing and consulting their physicians well before start of Ramadam so that their doses could be adjusted and they could be guided on safe-fasting practices.

Prof Ahmedani maintained that for last several years, they were holding these Diabetes and Ramadan Conference to create awareness among Muslims