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If you have a medical condition like hypertension or diabetes, check with your doctor before you fast

If you have a medical condition like hypertension or diabetes, check with your doctor before you fast

It plays an important role

in many cultures and religions,

but studies have

proven that fasting is also

beneficial for the body. It

increases insulin sensitivity,

enhances cardiovascular

health, boosts brain function

and improves immunity

and metabolism, along

with other effects that aid

overall wellbeing.

However, there are precautionary

measures to be

taken before fasting, particularly

if you suffer from

chronic health conditions.

such as eating a balanced

diet, getting sufficient rest

and hydrating yourself.

“Exercise moderately

about two to three hours after

you break your fast, and

drink plenty of water — at

least three litres between

iftar and suhour,” says Dr

Tareq Akbar, Primary Care

Physician at American Hospital

Dubai. “If you have a

medical condition like hypertension

or diabetes,

check with your doctor before

you fast.”

Sleep well

Due to the nature of the

month, many people experience

a disruption in their

sleep routine, since they

stay awake during the night

to worship or socialise. This

results in fragmented and

reduced hours of sleep.

“Getting a good night’s

sleep will help you perform

more effectively during the

day, as you are relaxed,”

says Dr Akbar. “Go to bed

early since you have to

wake up earlier for suhour,

but ensure that you get at

least eight hours of sleep.”

An unsettled sleep routine

can impair normal

functioning, reduce alertness

and cause mood disturbances.

It also increases

appetite since it affects the

hormones that control hunger,

which makes it difficult

to observe the fast.

“Give yourself an hour or

so before you rest following

suhour as sleeping right after

eating causes problems

like acidity and heart burn,”

says Dr Akbar. “Try to take

a nap during the day after

coming back from work.”

Chronic conditions

People with chronic

health conditions are exempted

from fasting, but

can still do it as long as they

consult with their doctors

and get approval.

Hypertension is a global

health concern that increases

the risk of cardiac

disease, stroke, and death.

“Patients on medications

for hypertension can generally

continue to fast, since

most medications are given

once or twice daily,” explains

Dr Akbar. “However,
remember to check your

blood pressure regularly.”

Although there are risks

associated with fasting for

diabetics, he says, “Patients

can fast, especially if they

are taking long-acting medications

and their blood

sugar is well controlled.

However, type 1 diabetics

on insulin should avoid it.”

If you feel dizzy or faint,

you have to end your fast

and drink some beverage

or eat a light snack, such as

orange juice or dates. If you

are diabetic, this could be

due to low blood sugar. To

be on the safe side, contact

your doctor for advice.

“If you have a stable heart

problem, you should be

able to fast,” Dr Akbar says.

“Make sure to get an okay

from your cardiologist. But

if you are having recurring

chest pain, difficulty breathing

or if you had a heart attack

recently, avoid it.”

Lifestyle interventions

Often, people overindulge

after they end their

fast and gain a lot of weight.

“Eat in moderation,” says

Dr Akbar. “Avoid carbohydrates

and oily food, since

most people gain weight

due to this. Also control

food portion sizes and exer-
cise regularly for at least 30

minutes to lose weight.”

Smoking is another cause

of various health complications,

so Dr Akbar recommends

quitting the habit.

People experience nicotine

withdrawal symptoms when

they stop smoking, so talk to

your family doctor for help

in this regard.

 

BY SHARON THOMAS

Edited by:
Tariq S Akbar

Tariq S Akbar

Consultant - Chief of Primary Care