Fasting during Ramadan improves blood sugar levels in diabetics, local study finds

A team of experts, led by Associate Professor Joyce Lee (right) and graduate student Ms Melanie Siaw, has found that fasting during Ramadan can help to improve blood sugar levels for those with type 2 diabetes. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
A team of experts, led by Associate Professor Joyce Lee (right) and graduate student Ms Melanie Siaw, has found that fasting during Ramadan can help to improve blood sugar levels for those with type 2 diabetes. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - A team of experts here has found that fasting during Ramadan can help to improve blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. This is especially so if patients adjust their medications during the this period.

The study, led by Associate Professor Joyce Lee and graduate student Ms Melanie Siaw from the department of pharmacy at the National University of Singapore, looked at 153 patients before, during and after Ramadan three years ago.

The study was done after over 5,000 patients in a local chronic disease database showed improving blood glucose control during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year during which fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset.

Patients in the latest study were given questionnaires on their diet and physical activity while blood tests were done to determine blood sugar levels at specific times.

Those with type two diabetes can safely do so as long as their diabetic medications are adjusted beforehand, to prevent abnormally low blood sugar levels, said Prof Lee.

This year, Ramadan - traditionally a time of prayer and abstinence for Muslims - falls on June 18.

Prof Lee said that the next step would be to develop guidelines so doctors can tell diabetic patients how much medication they need to take during the fasting period. Such guides are available in places such as the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, but not in Singapore.

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg