Diabetics who do not get permission from their doctors to fast, should not try to fast during Ramadaan as this could be dangerous to their health.
However, some Muslims overlook this warning and this week we focus on illnesses and causes of dizziness.
Tasneem Johnson, a dietitian, explained how dizziness may be one symptom of many conditions. Glucose is the body’s main energy source. Carbohydrate-rich foods (like fruit, vegetables, bread and rice) are broken down in the stomach and intestines to form glucose. This glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to all the different areas of the body (like the brain, muscles and heart), giving them the energy they need to function well.
Ms Johnson said that our bodies are good at regulating our blood glucose levels, but if we don’t eat enough carbohydrates or the right types of carbohydrates during Ramadaan, they may struggle to keep a steady flow of glucose to all the different areas of our bodies.
When the amount of glucose in the blood drops below healthy levels we experience hypoglycemia (low-blood sugar). Dizziness is one of the symptoms of hypoglycemia. In some cases, dizziness may be due to anaemia, dehydration or a sudden drop in blood pressure. These conditions could be the result of a poor diet or not drinking enough water.
Ms Johnson said a diabetic who received permission from their doctor to fast, but experiences dizziness while fasting, should do the following: Ask someone nearby to assist you, find a safe place to sit down, eat something that contains sugar (like sugar, a sweet or chocolate), test your sugar levels as soon as possible and go to your doctor for a check-up as soon as possible
However, if you are not diabetic and experience dizziness while fasting, you should find a safe place to sit down and remain calm. If you do not begin to feel better after a few minutes you may need to have something to eat or drink. It’s best for you to go to your doctor and get a check-up if you do not feel better, or if you experience dizziness often during Ramadaan.
Once you feel better consider the types of foods you eat every day. Do you eat enough food at suhoor? Do you eat a variety of foods (like fruits, vegetables, beans, peas and legumes, dairy, meat, chicken and fish) every day? Are you doing the same amount or less physical activity than you would do when you are not fasting? If you answer no to any of these questions, then you may need to adjust your dietary habits or physical activity levels during Ramadaan to prevent further episodes of dizziness.
The tradition and habits of the Muslim community, especially in the Cape, can be tough to break and fried foods had always been on the menu. But what happens to your body when you eat too much fried food during Ramadaan?
Ms Johnson said that we eat to provide our bodies with all the nutrients we need to survive and stay healthy. When we eat too much of any type of food, our bodies look for ways to store that food, since it isn’t needed right away. Most of this food is stored as fat, and as our fat stores grow so does our risk for chronic diseases of lifestyle (like diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease). If you eat too many fried foods, the excess fat from these meals will add to fat stores and also increase the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in your bloodstream. When these are present in high amounts in the blood, they can cause blockages in the blood vessels and increase your risk for a stroke or heart attack. Fat-soluble vitamins can also be lost when foods are shallow or deep-fried.
* Exercise tip: Yoga at home and walking in nature are two great exercises for everyone as well as diabetics.