Fasting during the month of Ramadan is a spiritual practice and is known to improve health. However, if one fails to follow the correct diet during Ramadan, it can cause digestive problems. Ramadan is a time when digestive issues are common, due to the changes in the timing, types and quantity of food taken during this period. During the month of Ramadan digestive issues like heartburn, belching, bloating and constipation are rather common. These conditions occur not just to those with pre-existing gastric problems but also to those who never had gastric issues before. Festivities and feasts during this month often cause acidity, heartburn, indigestion, constipation etc.
Fasting in Ramadan has a number of health benefits if done properly. But fasting in this sweltering heat can have a negative impact if you do not take the necessary precautions, and this can lead to constipation, heart burns, dehydration, irritability or lack of concentration.
What are some of the benefits of fasting?
- It promotes weight loss
- It helps remove toxins from the body
- It lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
- It plays a major role in stabilizing insulin sensitivity
- It provides a better control on blood pressure and diabetes
- It leads to a state of increased mental well-being
What are the bodily changes that occur during fasting?
In the normal state glucose is the main source of energy which is stored in muscles and liver. During fasting, glucose is used first followed by fats once the glucose runs out.
Ramadan is an ideal platform to target year long lifestyle modification, to ensure that whatever health care benefits have been gained during this month, are perpetuated.
Patients with stable Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) can observe fasting during Ramadan without anticipating any major adverse cardiac events while those with unstable disease or recent/pending revascularization should largely refrain from fasting. Previous studies have shown that neither has there been an increase in the incidences of acute myocardial infarction nor has there been an increase in the number of patients hospitalized due to heart failure, during Ramadan.
A fairly small group of patients with cardiac conditions should be advised to refrain from fasting during Ramadan. These include patients with acute cardiac illnesses like Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI) and Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS). Patients with uncontrolled HTN requiring multiple dosages during the daytime should be counseled against fasting. Patients with severe congestive heart failure (CHF) requiring high doses of diuretics should also refrain from fasting.
Patients are encouraged to seek medical advice 1 or 2 months before Ramadan in order to adjust their medications if needed. Drugs given thrice daily can be usually changed to single sustained doses.
- Can I fast during Ramadan if I have diabetes?
People with diabetes and chronic problems are exempted from fasting. However, diabetic patients can fast and often it is not harmful. However, each person is different and fasting can have a significant impact on a person’s health. A person’s ability to fast depends on how controlled his/her diabetes is, the medications being taken and food habits.
The month of Ramadan is a great opportunity to focus on bringing back a balanced and healthy lifestyle in your life. Through fasting, you begin to learn how to manage your eating habits, how to improve self-control and discipline. Follow the below tips to make a few lifestyle changes to get the best out of this Ramadan.