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Blog: 'Faster and faster'

How many of you have patients who are Muslims and therefore fast during daylight hours in the month of Ramadan? What helpful advice are we able to offer these patients, particularly if they are taking regular insulin throughout the day. This year Ramadan started on 19th July and will finish on 17th August, so the hours of fasting may seem much longer, with the sun still rising quite early and setting fairly late.     

If you look on the Diabetes UK website, you can find some very practical information there which we can pass onto our patients. It is also a reminder that we should be discussing these issues with our patients and assisting them in their decision-making.

If they are uncertain about what to do, they can speak with their Imam. People with Diabetes do not have to fast, but many choose to do that, so knowing which foods to eat early morning that will be absorbed relatively slowly will make life easier for them. Such foods include basmati rice, pitta bread, chapattis and dhal, and also of course fruit and vegetables; these types of food will keep blood glucose levels more stable during the time of the fast.

The other topic that has been on the front pages of most national newspapers over the past few weeks is the Olympics and the possible legacy that the Games could bestow on the UK in terms of exercise and physical fitness.

Which of you were avidly watching the Olympic Games at every available opportunity, and who just thought 'I'm sick of all this hype, it's only a two-week long sporting event'?

Even if we do not like sport, how many of us have got caught up in the enthusiasm surrounding the games? Do any of you now feel inspired to take up a new sport or activity, or to improve your fitness? I'm not sure I could be disciplined enough to ever consider competing at the kind of level seen at the Olympics, but it is a challenge to be more careful in our eating habits, and become better role models to the rest of our families.

How can we as health professionals use this opportunity to raise the topic of diet and physical fitness with our patients? Steve Redgrave, five times Olympic rowing champion was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes in 1997 and went on to win his fifth gold medal in 2000 after diagnosis. In fact when he won that fifth gold medal, doctors asked him how he managed that achievement, because if he'd been their patient they would have told him it wasn't possible.

We don't have to go the lengths he did, but for those with type 2 Diabetes, regular activity can improve their insulin sensitivity and thereby help with blood glucose regulation. Also, there is the impact of controlling weight through regular exercise as well as improving cardiovascular output.

For myself as a nurse dealing with diabetes every working day, I want to encourage my patients to take exercise in some shape or form regularly (as often as possible), so if having a Wii Fit is that motivating factor, go for it; exercise equipment at home can enthuse others. We continually need to think outside of the box.

I hope you enjoy the remainder of the summer, and let's enjoy the rest of the Paralympics.