Staying Healthy during Ramadan

The NHS is here to keep you healthy all year round, including during Ramadan. Ramadan brings the opportunity to revisit routines and think about your health, as well as the wellbeing of others. This year, York GP practices and the British Islamic Medical Association are working together with York Mosque and the York Muslim Association. Together we want to support Muslims to make healthy choices around fasting.

What we eat and drink directly affects our health. Whilst fasting (sawm) is a core tenant of Islam, some individuals are advised to take extra care, or are permitted to abstain due to their health condition. Fasting is a personal and spiritual commitment. The following guidance is designed to help you prioritise your health.

Ramadan Mubarak!

Whenever we make changes to our diet, we take a risk; the change could be for better or worse. Nothing is entirely risk free, this includes fasting during Ramadan. The British Islamic Medical Association have created a compendium of evidence regarding fasting. This document can help clinicians to judge the likelihood of a patient becoming unwell due to fasting. Having a long term health condition doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t fast, but if you’re worried about how fasting might effect your health, you can contact your GP practice, pharmacist, or specialist depending on your condition

Remember to continue to take prescribed medicines during Ramadan, but do check with your medical team or pharmacist if the doses need to be adjusted or the times you take them changed. 

If you have diabetes and want to fast you should speak to your GP or diabetes nurse about the safest way to do this. There is an exemption for people with diabetes, especially if for those on insulin or who have any medical complications.

If you have a medical or vaccination appointment booked during Ramadan, it is very important that you attend. You can change the time of your appointment if you need to. The vast majority of Muslim scholars state an injectable vaccine does not invalidate your fast.

If you become unwell while fasting, do consider breaking your fast as is permitted on account of avoiding harm. Your local pharmacy can offer advice and some medicines, and this can help you treat your condition yourself at home. Pharmacists can also help you see the right person, if you need to see someone else. If you have a more serious illness, you should visit your GP practice or out of hours contact NHS 111. In an emergency, always dial 999.

Ramadan is a great time to build up your self-control and give up smoking.

Some other ways to stay well during Ramadan include: eating as healthily as possible when breaking your fast and avoiding sugary, fatty and processed foods; staying hydrated before and after fasting by drinking plenty of water and avoiding caffeinated drinks; and if you are able to, keeping active with some light exercise such as walking.

Please remember: many groups are exempt from fasting on account of harm to their health – including people who are unwell with a physical or mental illness or have a poorly controlled long-term condition; people who are very frail and weak; those who lack mental capacity; and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding fearing harm to their child. Speak to your imam if you are not sure, as there are alternatives to fasting every day in Ramadan.