Intermittent Fasting in Insulin Dependent Diabetics

 In Naturopathic News

A literature review on intermittent fasting and its effects on fasting insulin levels in insulin dependent diabetics was recently published.1 This study uses a Ramadan model specifically. Ramadan is a great model for studying various effects of restricted feeding times, since adherence to Ramadan in the Muslim tradition mandates that no food be consumed during daylight hours. Diabetics are exempt from fasting as part of this faith tradition; however, many still wish to participate, as Ramadan fasting is one of the 5 pillars of Islam. Studies on the effects of Ramadan fasting on insulin dependent diabetics are not numerous. This study is also important in how any fasting regimen affects insulin dependence, including blood sugar levels, insulin need changes, and other vital markers.

Ramadan Fasting Feasible for Insulin Dependent Diabetics

Sixteen articles were compiled in total, all but one showing improvement or no change in glycemic control during the fasting periods of Ramadan, which can extend further than 12 hours at a time.1 Major complications are commented to be “negligible,” and only minor hypoglycemic events were reported in some studies, but did not alter the fasting intention. In some of the studies reviewed, postprandial hyperglycemia was of concern, however, the actual cases of severe hyperglycemia and diabetic ketoacidosis were unremarkable.  The conclusions of this literature review was that “Ramadan fasting is feasible for insulin-dependent diabetic patient[s] who wish to fast.”1 Adequate monitoring and the importance of glycemic control should be discussed thoroughly before initiation of fasting.

Fasting Reduces Inflammation During Acute Infection

This may open up avenues for insulin diabetics to use fasting protocols for glycemic management, cleansing, and spiritual health reasons. From a naturopathic perspective, this research helps build a wider understanding of the usage of fasting. Fasting is one of the best ways of rapidly lowering inflammation during acute infection and other scenarios, and can quickly lower blood pressure, as well. Though not advisable for the majority of insulin dependent patients, this research may aid in decision-making in cases where the patient is genuinely interested and motivated to fast.


  1. Alabbood MH, Ho KW, Simons MR.The effect of Ramadan fasting on glycaemic control in insulin dependent diabeticpatients: A literature review. Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2017 Jan – Mar;11(1):83-87. doi: 10.1016/j.dsx.2016.06.028.

    Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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