Fasting during Ramadan can be dangerous for those with health conditions such as diabetes, Diabetes UK has warned.
Those who observe fasting during the month, due to start on June 7, will go over 17 hours a day without eating during the long summer days.
There is also a risk of overeating at Suhoor and Iftar, the meals before and after fasting, which can send blood glucose levels to dangerously high levels.
If fasting is likely to put your health at risk, you can complete your duties by offering charity or providing food to the poor.
People with diabetes are advised to speak with their Imam and healthcare team to work out whether it is safe to fast, and for those who do, how to keep good diabetes control during the period.
Information developed with Muslim Council of Britain
Diabetes UK has worked in partnership with the Muslim Council of Britain to develop information on Ramadan and diabetes.
Krishna Sarda, Engaging Communities Manager at Diabetes UK, said: “Diabetes UK recognises and respects that this is a very important time for people and we are urging people with diabetes to take care of their health during this period. South Asian people are two to four times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and that means there will be lots of people with the condition who may think they have to fast for Ramadan.
“However, while fasting is not necessary for people with diabetes, choosing to fast is a personal decision that is best made after speaking with both your Imam and your diabetes team.
Risks of fasting in summer
“Those who do choose to fast need to take particular care as fasting for this length of time will increase the risk of their blood glucose levels rising or falling, which can be very dangerous, and of them becoming dehydrated.
“Be sure to get advice from your doctor or nurse beforehand and eat and drink sensibly outside of fasting hours. And if your blood glucose levels fall low, you must end the fast immediately and treat the low blood sugar level as you would do normally.
“It is also possible to postpone fasting until winter, when shorter days mean less time fasting.
“Some people also think that testing blood glucose levels will break your fast. It does not, and in fact it is important to test more frequently if you do fast.”
Misbah Latif, who has Type 2 diabetes and does not fast during Ramadan, said: “With Ramadan now falling during summer, it is much harder than trying to complete a fast during winter. But if it isn’t safe for you to fast then you can do other things – I give money to charity to help others during Ramadan.”
For more information on diabetes and fasting, call Diabetes UK’s helpline on 0345 123 2399 or visitour Ramadan pages.