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New Tool Helps Muslims With Diabetes Manage Blood Sugar During Ramadan Fast

Last Updated: March 10, 2020.

TUESDAY, March 10, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- A new tool can help Muslims with diabetes safely control their blood sugar during the intermittent fasting of Ramadan, according to researchers.

The FAST (Fasting Algorithm for Singaporeans with Type 2 Diabetes) tool provides Ramadan-specific educational materials, dosing modification information for patients and doctors, and encourages active self-monitoring of before, during and after fasting.

It was developed by Joyce Yu-Chia Lee from the National University of Singapore and researchers at the University of California, Irvine, who evaluated its safety and effectiveness in 111 fasting adults with type 2 diabetes.

On average, those who used FAST had four times the reduction in hemoglobin A1c before and after fasting than those in a control group that did not use FAST. (The hemoglobin A1c test gauges average blood sugar levels for the past few months.)

There were no major episodes of very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in either group, and no increase in minor hypoglycemic events in the FAST group, according to the study published March 9 in the journal Annals of Family Medicine.

Researchers said the use of patient-operated tools for blood sugar management like FAST can help observant Muslims with diabetes fast safely.

Diabetic patients considering fasting should be under a doctor's supervision and follow a low-carbohydrate diet, Dr. Jonathan Gabison wrote in an accompanying editorial. Gabison is a family physician at Michigan Medicine in Ypsilanti, Mich.

"While more research is needed, a protocol to manage diabetes medications safely with intermittent fasting may help keep patients safe while we learn more about the use of these strategies to help combat obesity and diabetes," Gabison said in a journal news release.

Ramadan, a time of spiritual reflection, self-improvement and worship for Muslims, begins in the United States the evening of April 23 and ends a month later. Fasting during Ramadan usually takes place each day from dawn to sunset.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on diabetes management.

SOURCE: Annals of Family Medicine, news release, March 9, 2020

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