DUBAI- Borderline diabetics who develop unhealthy eating habits during Ramadan are not exempt from the serious health risks associated with the disease, according to Dr. Ahmed El Hakim, Senior Advisor to Spanish pharmaceutical company, Cinfa.
Pre-diabetes is a common thread among overweight individuals, and with figures from a 2013 analysis on the Global Burden of Disease published in the The Lancet journal showing that 66 percent of men and 60 percent of women in the UAE are obese, experts say the dangers of pre-diabetes is a reality that people cannot ignore.
“Pre-diabetes often masks itself in the form obesity, which impacts thousands of people across the UAE,” said Dr. El Hakim, Senior Advisor of Cinfa, a European drugs maker with a history of leadership in providing authentic, accessible care for diabetic patients. “This is a reality especially critical during Ramadan, when the dietary habits of a pre-diabetic patient can determine the outlook for that individual.”
“Binge eating, lack of sleep, and reduced physical activity, common behaviours adopted during this month, can exacerbate the symptoms of pre-diabetes and put a borderline patient on the path to developing the disease.”
Figures from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) show that nearly 19 percent of the UAE population is living with diabetes.
The IDF also estimates that more than one-third of cases in the UAE are undiagnosed, leaving patients at risk of discovering the disease only when complications develop.
Symptoms can range from severe fatigue and loss of consciousness, to serious life-threatening complications, such as vision loss, gangrene, and heart and kidney disease.
However, simple yet imperative tactics during Ramadan can help both diabetics and pre-diabetics prevent the onset of complications.
“Because of the delayed food intake, the secretion of insulin, which breaks down glucose, slows down. This is why the sudden consumption of large amounts of food rich in complex carbohydrates, such as breads, rice and pasta, should be avoided during the breaking of the fast,” Dr El Hakim said.
“This causes the blood sugar to suddenly spike without the adequate supply of insulin the body needs to break it down. Foods containing simple carbohydrates, such as those found in fruits and vegetables, are a healthier option for iftar, while complex sugars may be more appropriate for suhoor.”