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Diabetes and Fasting, Is it Safe?
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Can Someone with Diabetes Fast Safely? Health Cautions About Fasting with Diabetes
by N J Howell
Question on health care and healing: I have read about the health benefits of fasting but I'm diabetic. Can diabetics fast without harming their health?
Wholistic Health Response: There are two main reasons that people choose to fast: spiritual and health-related.
For some, fasting is undertaken because of the healing benefits of fasting on the body. For others, fasting is done to fulfill a spiritual mandate or to pursue spiritual vision.
Since your question seems to relate more to fasting for health benefits, we'll talk about diabetes and fasting for health reasons first and then address spiritual fasting for the diabetic.
Can diabetics fast safely? Some can, it appears, though a diabetic should always consult with their doctor before undergoing a fast of any duration.
One big factor is whether your diabetes is diet-controlled or controlled thru medicine.
If your diabetes is being controlled strictly through diet and you have not reached the point where you are taking medicine to control the symptoms, you are better suited to fasting as a diabetic.
It's important to note that there are different levels of fasting, from liquids only which can include protein drinks, to juice fasting to strict water fasting.
I didn't find a single source that recommended strict water fasting for diabetics (or at least diabetics should not begin with strict water fasting).
However, I found several that indicated that medically supervised fasting could be undertaken if certain criteria were met.
1. There is NO history of diabetic ketoacidosis.
Note: These are not the only criteria that a doctor looks at in deciding if it's safe for a diabetic to fast, so go over all your medical history with your doctor when you discuss this topic.
If you have been diagnosed as a brittle type I diabetic, or your diabetes is not well-controlled at the time you wish to begin fasting, it may not be approved by your doctor to undertake a fast.
On the other hand, if you are a stable diabetic and obese, fasting or a very low calorie diet may be advisable and you can discuss this option with your doctor.
There have been studies done which indicated that a very low calorie diet, undertaken short term, helped to reduce oxidative stress in type 2 obese diabetics.
I have compiled basic information on the risks of fasting with diabetes among three major groups of people for whom fasting is part of the religious or spiritual structure of their lives: Christians, Native Americans and Muslims.
Of course, there are those on other religious or spiritual paths who recognize the value of fasting as a spiritual discipine or as part of a wholistic health approach to wellness. In focusing on these three groups, I am not excluding others.
If you are Christian, Muslim or Native-American, you will find information on fasting specific to you below.
Additional ethnic groups with higher risk for developing diabetes include Latin American, Asian, Pacific Islander and African American. I hope to locate resources for these groups in the future.
Diabetes Health Care Disclaimer: Diabetes is a serious, and sometimes life-threatening condition. None of the wholistic health information here is meant to replace needed medical diagnosis or treatment. Please consult with your chosen healthcare professional for proper guidance on treating diabetes.