Article

The impact of religious fasting on human health

Cardiorespiratory/Metabolic Laboratory, The University of Memphis, Memphis, TN 38152, USA.
Nutrition Journal (Impact Factor: 2.64). 11/2010; 9:57. DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-57
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The past two decades have seen a rise in the number of investigations examining the health-related effects of religiously motivated fasts. Islamic Ramadan is a 28 - 30 day fast in which food and drink are prohibited during the daylight hours. The majority of health-specific findings related to Ramadan fasting are mixed. The likely causes for these heterogeneous findings are the differences between studies in the following: 1) the amount of daily fasting time; 2) the percentage of subjects who smoke, take oral medications, and/or receive intravenous fluids; and 3) the subjects' typical food choices and eating habits. Greek Orthodox Christians fast for a total of 180 - 200 days each year, and their main fasting periods are the Nativity Fast (40 days prior to Christmas), Lent (48 days prior to Easter), and the Assumption (15 days in August). The fasting periods are more similar than dissimilar, and they can each be described as a variant of vegetarianism. Some of the more favorable effects of these fasts include the lowering of body mass, total cholesterol, LDL-C, and the LDL-C/HDL-C ratio. The Biblical-based Daniel Fast prohibits the consumption of animal products, refined carbohydrates, food additives, preservatives, sweeteners, flavorings, caffeine, and alcohol. It is most commonly partaken for 21 days, although fasts of 10 and 40 days have been observed. Our initial investigation of the Daniel Fast noted favorable effects on several health-related outcomes, including: blood pressure, blood lipids, insulin sensitivity, and biomarkers of oxidative stress. This review summarizes the health-specific effects of these fasts and provides suggestions for future research.

2 Followers
 · 
114 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Behavioural risk factors for chronic diseases involve factors relating to lifestyle habits. This study examined the relationship of religious and spiritual beliefs with the adoption and presence of multiple behavioural risk factors (MBRFs) in European adults. Cross-sectional study. Data were used from 16,557 individuals, aged 50+ years, participating in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (2004/05). MBRFs clustering was defined by high body weight, smoking, physical inactivity and risky alcohol consumption, and regression estimations with religiosity and prayer use were assessed based on sampling weights. In total, 79.4% of participants had received religious education, 33.4% had used prayer '≥1 time/day' and 53.3% had clustering of 2+ MBRFs. Lower prevalence of smoking was found in males (20.6% vs. 29.4%, P < 0.05), as well as in females (13.1% vs. 22.6%, P < 0.05), who prayed '≥1 time/day', compared to those who never prayed. Categorical regression analysis revealed that the presence of MBRFs was associated negatively with religious education (standardized beta = -0.048, P < 0.001) and positively with low frequency of prayer use (standardized beta = 0.056, P < 0.001). Having received religious education and prayer use were related to the presence of fewer MBRFs in European adults aged 50+ years. These lifestyle factors should be assessed as potential determinants of MBRFs adoption when examining chronic disease development in multicultural populations. Copyright © 2015 The Royal Society for Public Health. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study addressed the question whether the composition of supposedly 'healthy' or 'unhealthy' dietary regimes has a calorie-independent short-term effect on biomarkers of metabolic stress and vascular risk in healthy individuals. Healthy male volunteers (age 29.5 ± 5.9 years, n = 39) were given a standardized baseline diet for two weeks before randomization into three groups of different dietary regimes: fast food, Mediterranean and German cooking style. Importantly, the amount of calories consumed per day was identical in all three groups. Blood samples were analyzed for biomarkers of cardiovascular risk and metabolic stress after two weeks of the baseline diet and after two weeks of the assigned dietary regime. No dietary intervention affected the metabolic or cardiovascular risk profile when compared in-between groups or compared to baseline. Subjects applied to the Mediterranean diet showed a statistically significant increase of uric acid compared to baseline and compared to the German diet group. Plasma concentrations of urea were significantly higher in both the fast food group and the Mediterranean group, when compared to baseline and compared to the German diet group. No significant differences were detected for the levels of vitamins, trace elements or metabolic stress markers (8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine, malondialdehyde and methylglyoxal, a potent glycating agent). Established parameters of vascular risk (e.g. LDL-cholesterol, lipoprotein(a), homocysteine) were not significantly changed in-between groups or compared to baseline during the intervention period. The calorie-controlled dietary intervention caused neither protective nor harmful short-term effects regarding established biomarkers of vascular or metabolic risk. When avoiding the noxious effects of overfeeding, healthy individuals can possess the metabolic capacity to compensate for a potentially disadvantageous composition of a certain diet.
    Nutrition research and practice 04/2015; 9(2):165-173. DOI:10.4162/nrp.2015.9.2.165 · 1.13 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study examines the relationship between the use of modern food retailers and health outcomes using data from a survey of 1,180 urban households in Indonesia. The dependent variables include adult and child body-mass index and the share of individuals overweight and obese. After controlling for individual and household characteristics and using standard and Lewbel instrumental variable approaches to control for unobservable characteristics, we do not find a statistically significant relationship between use of supermarkets and adult nutrition measures. On the other hand, there is mixed evidence for a negative effect of supermarkets on child nutrition, particularly for those in high-income households.
    American Journal of Agricultural Economics 03/2015; 97(2). DOI:10.1093/ajae/aau111 · 1.36 Impact Factor

Full-text (4 Sources)

Download
6 Downloads
Available from
Dec 9, 2014