Effect of a 21 day Daniel Fast on metabolic and cardiovascular disease risk factors in men and women

Cardiorespiratory/Metabolic Laboratory, The University of Memphis, Memphis, TN 38152, USA.
Lipids in Health and Disease (Impact Factor: 2.22). 09/2010; 9(1):94. DOI: 10.1186/1476-511X-9-94
Source: PubMed


Dietary modification via caloric restriction is associated with multiple effects related to improved metabolic and cardiovascular health. However, a mandated reduction in kilocalories is not well-tolerated by many individuals, limiting the long-term application of such a plan. The Daniel Fast is a widely utilized fast based on the Biblical book of Daniel. It involves a 21 day ad libitum food intake period, devoid of animal products and preservatives, and inclusive of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. The purpose of the present study was to determine the efficacy of the Daniel Fast to improve markers of metabolic and cardiovascular disease risk.
43 subjects (13 men; 30 women; 35 ± 1 yrs; range: 20-62 yrs) completed a 21 day period of modified food intake in accordance with detailed guidelines provided by investigators. All subjects purchased and prepared their own food. Following initial screening, subjects were given one week to prepare for the fast, after which time they reported to the lab for their pre-intervention assessment (day 1). After the 21 day fast, subjects reported to the lab for their post-intervention assessment (day 22). For both visits, subjects reported in a 12 hr fasted state, performing no strenuous physical activity during the preceding 24-48 hrs. At each visit, mental and physical health (SF-12 form), resting heart rate and blood pressure, and anthropometric variables were measured. Blood was collected for determination of complete blood count, metabolic panel, lipid panel, insulin, HOMA-IR, and C-reactive protein (CRP). Subjects' self-reported compliance, mood, and satiety in relation to the fast were also recorded. Diet records were maintained by all subjects during the 7 day period immediately prior to the fast (usual intake) and during the final 7 days of the fast.
Subjects' compliance to the fast was 98.7 ± 0.2% (mean ± SEM). Using a 10 point scale, subjects' mood and satiety were both 7.9 ± 0.2. The following variables were significantly (p < 0.05) lower following the fast as compared to before the fast: white blood cell count (5.68 ± 0.24 vs. 4.99 ± 0.19 103.μL-1), blood urea nitrogen (13.07 ± 0.58 vs. 10.14 ± 0.59 mg.dL-1), blood urea nitrogen/creatinine (14.74 ± 0.59 vs. 11.67 ± 0.68), protein (6.95 ± 0.07 vs. 6.77 ± 0.06 g.dL-1), total cholesterol (171.07 ± 4.57 vs. 138.69 ± 4.39 mg.dL-1), LDL-C (98.38 ± 3.89 vs. 76.07 ± 3.53 mg.dL-1), HDL-C (55.65 ± 2.50 vs. 47.58 ± 2.19 mg.dL-1), SBP (114.65 ± 2.34 vs. 105.93 ± 2.12 mmHg), and DBP (72.23 ± 1.59 vs. 67.00 ± 1.43 mmHg). Insulin (4.42 ± 0.52 vs. 3.37 ± 0.35 μU.mL-1; p = 0.10), HOMA-IR (0.97 ± 0.13 vs.0.72 ± 0.08; p = 0.10), and CRP (3.15 ± 0.91 vs. 1.60 ± 0.42 mg.L-1; p = 0.13), were lowered to a clinically meaningful, albeit statistically insignificant extent. No significant difference was noted for any anthropometric variable (p > 0.05). As expected, multiple differences in dietary intake were noted (p < 0.05), including a reduction in total kilocalorie intake (2185 ± 94 vs. 1722 ± 85).
A 21 day period of modified dietary intake in accordance with the Daniel Fast is 1) well-tolerated by men and women and 2) improves several risk factors for metabolic and cardiovascular disease. Larger scale, randomized studies, inclusive of a longer time period and possibly a slight modification in food choice in an attempt to maintain HDL cholesterol, are needed to extend these findings.

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    • "While both CR and ADF aim to decrease total caloric intake either daily or on an every- other-day cycle, DR typically involves ad libitum intake with restriction of selected nutrients or foods. The religiously-motivated Daniel Fast, a stringent vegan diet that has been investigated recently and noted to result in multiple health-related benefits [5,6], falls into the category of DR. "
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    ABSTRACT: The Daniel Fast involves dietary modification similar to a purified vegan diet. Although improvements in several health-specific biomarkers have been noted with this plan, the removal of animal products results in a significant reduction in both dietary protein and saturated fatty acid intake, which results in a loss of lean body mass and a reduction in HDL-cholesterol. We assigned 29 men and women to either a traditional or modified Daniel Fast for 21 days and measured anthropometric and biochemical markers of health pre and post intervention. The modified Daniel Fast was otherwise identical to the traditional plan but included one serving per day of lean meat and dairy (skim milk), providing approximately 30 grams per day of additional protein. Compared to baseline, both plans resulted in similar and significant improvements in blood lipids, as well as a reduction in inflammation. Modification of dietary intake in accordance with either a traditional or modified Daniel Fast may improve risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic disease.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Lipids in Health and Disease
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    • "The reductions in blood glucose, blood insulin, and HOMA-IR in the present study were not observed in our previous investigation of the Daniel Fast [6]. Smaller baseline values for each of the variables in the previous investigation [6] likely explain these discrepancies. A trial examining a vegan diet in nondiabetic, overweight and obese, postmenopausal women noted similar improvements in blood glucose and blood insulin to those of the present investigation [4]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The Daniel Fast is a vegan diet that prohibits the consumption of animal products, refined foods, white flour, preservatives, additives, sweeteners, flavorings, caffeine, and alcohol. Following this dietary plan for 21 days has been demonstrated to improve blood pressure, LDL-C, and certain markers of oxidative stress, but it has also been shown to lower HDL-C. Krill oil supplementation has been shown to increase HDL-C. We investigated the effects of following a Daniel Fast dietary plan with either krill oil supplementation (2 g/day) or placebo supplementation (coconut oil; 2 g/day) for 21 days. The subjects in this study (12 men and 27 women) were heterogeneous with respect to body mass index (BMI) (normal weight, overweight, and obese), blood lipids (normolipidemic and hyperlipidemic), blood glucose (normal fasting glucose, impaired fasting glucose, and type 2 diabetic), and blood pressure (normotensive and hypertensive). Krill oil supplementation had no effect on any outcome measure (all p > 0.05), and so the data from the krill oil group and the placebo group were collapsed and analyzed to examine the effects of following a 21-day Daniel Fast. Significant reductions were observed in LDL-C (100.6 ± 4.3 mg/dL vs. 80.0 ± 3.7 mg/dL), the LDL:HDL ratio (2.0 ± 0.1 vs. 1.7 ± 0.1), fasting blood glucose (101.4 ± 7.5 mg/dL vs. 91.7 ± 3.4 mg/dL), fasting blood insulin (7.92 ± 0.80 μU/mL vs. 5.76 ± 0.59 μU/mL), homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) (2.06 ± 0.30 vs. 1.40 ± 0.21), systolic BP (110.7 ± 2.2 mm Hg vs. 105.5 ± 1.7 mm Hg), and body weight (74.1 ± 2.4 kg vs. 71.5 ± 2.3 kg) (all p < 0.05). Following a Daniel Fast dietary plan improves a variety of cardiometabolic parameters in a wide range of individuals in as little as 21 days, and these improvements are unaffected by krill oil supplementation. Trial registration
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2012 · Nutrition & Metabolism
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    • "Twenty-two subjects (10 men and 12 women) were included. In our initial work with the Daniel Fast, we noted no differences in the changes in our outcome measures between individuals of different body mass index (BMI) [18]. Therefore, we did not place any restrictions on BMI for enrollment in the present study. "
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    ABSTRACT: We have recently reported that short-term (21-day) dietary modification in accordance with a stringent vegan diet (i.e., a Daniel Fast) lowers blood lipids as well as biomarkers of oxidative stress. However, this work only involved measurements obtained in a fasted state. In the present study, we determined the postprandial response to a high-fat milkshake with regards to blood triglycerides (TAG), biomarkers of oxidative stress, and hemodynamic variables before and following a 21-day Daniel Fast. Twenty-two subjects (10 men and 12 women; aged 35 ± 3 years) completed a 21-day Daniel Fast. To induce oxidative stress, a milkshake (fat = 0.8 g·kg-1; carbohydrate = 1.0 g·kg-1; protein = 0.25 g·kg-1) was consumed by subjects on day one and day 22 in a rested and 12-hour fasted state. Before and at 2 and 4 h after consumption of the milkshake, heart rate (HR) and blood pressure were measured. Blood samples were also collected at these times and analyzed for TAG, malondialdehyde (MDA), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), advanced oxidation protein products (AOPP), nitrate/nitrite (NOx), and Trolox Equivalent Antioxidant Capacity (TEAC). A time effect was noted for HR (p = 0.006), with values higher at 2 hr post intake of the milkshake as compared to pre intake (p < 0.05). Diastolic blood pressure was lower post fast as compared to pre fast (p = 0.02), and a trend for lower systolic blood pressure was noted (p = 0.07). Time effects were noted for TAG (p = 0.001), MDA (p < 0.0001), H2O2 (p < 0.0001), AOPP (p < 0.0001), and TEAC (p < 0.0001); all concentrations were higher at 2 h and 4 h post intake compared to pre intake, except for TEAC, which was lower at these times (p < 0.05). A condition effect was noted for NOx (p = 0.02), which was higher post fast as compared to pre fast. No pre/post fast × time interactions were noted (p > 0.05), with the area under the curve from pre to post fast reduced only slightly for TAG (11%), MDA (11%), H2O2 (8%), and AOPP (12%), with a 37% increase noted for NOx. Partaking in a 21-day Daniel Fast does not result in a statistically significant reduction in postprandial oxidative stress. It is possible that a longer time course of adherence to the Daniel Fast eating plan may be needed to observe significant findings.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2012 · Nutrition Journal
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