The impact of religious fasting on human health

Cardiorespiratory/Metabolic Laboratory, The University of Memphis, Memphis, TN 38152, USA.
Nutrition Journal (Impact Factor: 2.6). 11/2010; 9(1):57. DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-57
Source: PubMed


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.

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Available from: John Trepanowski, Dec 09, 2014
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    • "It has positive changes on cardiovascular health also, which include decrease in blood pressure (BP) and resting heart rate (HR), improved left ventricular function, increased HR variability and flow-mediated vasodilation (Mattson and Wan 2005; Trepanowski and Bloomer 2010). In terms of glucoregulatory health, caloric restriction decreases the levels of insulin and fasting glucose, increases insulin sensitivity, lowers the incidence of diabetes and decreases body fat percentage (Fontana and Klein 2007; Trepanowski and Bloomer 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Ramadan fasting is obligatory for Muslims each year. They abstain from drinking, eating and intimate relationship between dawn and dusk during this month. Dietary restriction during Ramadan has various biochemical and physiological effects. It is shown to decrease the body weight, glucose and lipid profile. This study aims to analyze the changes in body weight, glucose and lipid profile during Ramadan in physiotherapy students in Pakistan. The study was conducted during June-July 2013 (Hijri year 1434). There were 80 students (50 males and 30 females) recruited in the experiment. They all were healthy adults between the age group of 18-24 (mean age 20.5) years. All subjects underwent a general physical examination and interview, and non-healthy subjects were excluded. On statistical analysis, quantitative data were expressed in terms of mean ± SD and a p value of ≤0.05 was believed statically significant. Paired t test was used to compare the variables. There was a little reduction in body weight (62.7 ± 8.8 vs. 62.3 ± 9.0; p value = 0.009) but a significant decline in glucose level (72.6 ± 12.5 vs. 57.9 ± 10.7; p value = 0.000), low-density lipoprotein level (2.9 ± 0.3 vs. 2.5 ± 0.3; p value = 0.000), total cholesterol (4.6 ± 0.4 vs. 4.2 ± 0.5; p value = 0.000) and triglycerides (1.4 ± 0.5 vs. 1.2 ± 0.5; p value = 0.000) was observed. Moreover, there was some reduction in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level (1.2 ± 0.3 vs. 1.1 ± 0.3; p value = 0.045). This study shows that Ramadan fasting, a religious obligation for purification of body and soul, resulted in reduced body weight and a positive effect on glucose level and lipid profile.
    Journal of Religion and Health 07/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10943-015-0084-8 · 1.02 Impact Factor
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    • "For example, a study of Bangladeshi households found that Muslim women had significantly higher BMIs relative to non-Muslim women (Hossain et al. 2012). However, in a review of several other relevant international studies, Trepanowski and Bloomer (2010) concluded that numerous confounding factors such as cultural differences, geographical location, age, gender, and household food security make it difficult to determine the impact of Muslim Ramadan fasting on BMIs of individuals. "
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    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 · 1.33 Impact Factor
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    • "VAI is measured by using BMI, WC, TG, and HDL [5]. Some studies reported that HDL-C significantly increased and there was a non-significant rise in the TG value together with weight loss at the end of Ramadan fasting [24–27]. Unalacak et al. reported that no significant difference was found in HDL-C, LDL-C, and TG in normal/-weight and obese subjects following RF [28]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: The aim of this study was to determine how Ramadan fasting (RF) affected the recently described new obesity indices [visceral adiposity index (VAI), waist circumference to height ratio (WHtR), body adiposity index (BAI)], and serum concentration of apelin-13 (RF) in healthy adult men. Material and methods: For this purpose, 42 healthy adult men were selected. Anthropometric parameters were measured and a sample of venous blood was obtained for biochemical assays on the first and last days of Ramadan. When all subjects were evaluated, all anthropometric parameters changed except VAI. Serum apelin-13, triglyceride (TG), HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C), and insulin levels did not change. When patients were divided into 3 groups according to body mass index (BMI), BAI decreased in normal-weight subjects and WHtR decreased in other groups, but VAI and apelin-13 did not change in any groups. Results: We demonstrate for the first time that while some anthropometric parameters changed, VAI and serum apelin-13 levels did not change with RF. BMI, waist circumference (WC), TG, and HDL-C were evaluated together in calculation of VAI. TG, VAI, and HDL-C remained unchanged by RF. Even if body weight (BW) and BMI decreased, apelin-13 was not affected by RF. The data on serum apelin-13 may have been influenced by the small-percentage decrease in BW, as well as insignificant improvements in metabolic parameters such as lipid profiles, glucose, and insulin. Conclusions: We found that Ramadan fasting in healthy adult men was associated with significant decreases in BW, BMI, WHtR, and BAI, but we found no significant changes in VAI and serum apelin-13 concentrations.
    Medical science monitor: international medical journal of experimental and clinical research 02/2014; 20:337-342. DOI:10.12659/MSM.890139 · 1.43 Impact Factor
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