Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a growing global health issue.
Despite the Islamic rule excusing those with physical illnesses from fasting during Ramadan, many Muslims with T2D still choose to fast, often without seeking medical advice.
This review investigates how Ramadan fasting (RF) affects blood sugar control in people with T2D.
Researchers looked at studies published between January 2000 and December 2021. These studies were found in databases like Web of Science, Scopus, and Medline, among others.
The team included studies that checked changes in body weight and blood sugar markers (like glycosylated haemoglobin [HbA1c] and fasting blood glucose [FBG]) before and after Ramadan in people with T2D.
They used a measure called the weighted mean difference (WMD) to understand these changes. They also checked how reliable the studies were using a tool from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
The team found 1592 studies, but only 12 met our criteria. These 12 studies were from Middle Eastern and Asian countries and involved 5554 participants. Of these participants, 54% were men and 46% were women.
Their analysis showed that HbA1c and FBG levels dropped significantly after Ramadan compared to before Ramadan.
But body weight didn’t change much. The studies included young people with T2D, but none of the studies focused only on this group.
Ramadan fasting seems to improve blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes. However, the team needs more research on young adults with T2D.
The researchers also need to understand how the number of fasting days, diet, physical activity, and sleep patterns affect blood sugar control.
This information can help doctors suggest non-drug treatments for diabetes, especially for those who want to fast during Ramadan or other times of the year.
More about Ramadan fasting
Ramadan fasting is a religious practice observed by Muslims worldwide during the holy month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
It’s considered one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset every day. The fast, known as Sawm, involves abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking, and other physical needs during the daylight hours.
It’s a time of purification and prayer, allowing Muslims to seek spiritual growth, develop self-control, and empathize with those who are less fortunate.
The fast begins with a pre-dawn meal called ‘Suhoor’ and is broken at sunset with a meal known as ‘Iftar’. The Iftar meal often begins with eating dates, following the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad.
It is essential to note that there are exceptions to fasting, including for those who are ill, pregnant, menstruating, nursing, or travelling.
The conclusion of Ramadan is marked with a major celebration known as ‘Eid al-Fitr’, the Festival of Breaking the Fast.
It is a day of thanksgiving and joy that involves communal prayers, feasting, and giving gifts.
The research was published in Diabetes Therapy.
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