Living with kidney disease: fasting during Ramadan

People with chronic kidney disease are exempt from fasting during the month of Ramadan, but it can be a difficult decision for Muslims.

Ramadan is an important month for Muslims across the world. It is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and the dates change each year because the calendar is based on the cycles of the moon. It lasts for 29 or 30 days, depending on the sighting of the moon.

The end of Ramadan is marked by the Eid Al-Fitr celebration. On this day no one fasts, and the day is started with a special Eid prayer. This is followed by visiting family, enjoying foods, and giving gifts.

How can kidney disease impact Ramadan?

Ramadan is known as a month of fasting, self-reflection, charity, and spiritual growth.

Fasting (restricting food and drink) starts in the early hours of the morning, from dawn, and lasts throughout the day until sunset. This can be an issue for those celebrating with chronic kidney disease (CKD). When the body fasts for a prolonged period of several hours, glucose levels are affected as the body uses these energy reserves first.

Research on the impact of fasting in kidney patients is limited. Some research suggests that for patients within earlier stages of CKD with a stable kidney function, fasting could be safely undertaken. Other research has indicated that additional factors, such as age, could also influence the safety of fasting for those with CKD. Regardless, it is important that anyone with kidney disease does not undertake any type of fasting without first consulting their doctor or kidney team for guidance.

In 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) put together a Ramadan Compendium.

The BIMA Ramadan Compendium is free, evidence based, and peer reviewed by healthcare professionals. Section 10 is about kidney disease, and there is plenty of other information in the companion, so feel free to ask your kidney team for help if there is anything you do not understand. There is also information and guidance in the compendium on other health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Fasting for people living with kidney disease

Fasting is always a personal choice, but if you have kidney disease, it is vital that you talk to your kidney team before fasting. They can help you to better understand any risks to your health and to develop a plan to fast safely, if this is an option for you.

Kidney Kitchen's Ramadan and Eid recipes

  • Talbina

    A warming porridge, ideal for Ramadan, which can be served in many ways but remains low in potassium and low in phosphate.

  • Lamb kebabs

    This quick and easy recipe is low in salt, potassium and phosphate and provides plenty of protein.

  • Rooh afza lemonade

    Known as the ‘Ramadan drink’, rooh afza is essentially a rose syrup and often used in desserts and drinks. It is cooling to drink and ideal to enjoy after a long day.

  • Chana chaat

    Chana chaat is tangy, fresh and easy to make, with no cooking involved. This savoury version is kidney-friendly and has been designed for those who wish to eat something traditional during Ramadan.

  • Creamy fruit chaat

    An iftar table is not complete without fruit chaat. For people with kidney disease who are unable to fast during Ramadan, enjoying a safe, yet delicious fruit chaat recipe will make you feel part of the celebration.