Biblical Daniel Fast Put to the Test

Biblical Daniel Fast Put to the Test
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Within a matter of weeks, participants placed on the vegan diet outlined by the prophet Daniel experienced improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels, insulin resistance, and C-reactive protein levels, a marker of inflammation within the body.

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Evidently not completely satisfied with the scientific rigor of the dietary trial presented in Daniel 1: 8 through 16, researchers in Tennesee published two papers recently, detailing a series of parallel experiments on a 21-day all-you-can-eat diet “devoid of animal products and preservatives, and inclusive of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.” In other words, “food intake in accordance with a stringent vegan diet.”

The purpose of the studies was to determine the effect of a 21-day Daniel Fast on both biomarkers of antioxidant status and oxidative stress, as well as the efficacy of the Daniel fast to improve markers of the lion’s den of metabolic and cardiovascular disease risk.

No surprise that a diet composed of whole plant foods improves several risk factors for metabolic and cardiovascular disease, as well as an improvement in selected biomarkers of antioxidant status and oxidative stress—including metabolites of nitric oxide, which I’ve talked about before. Participants experienced meaningful improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin levels, insulin resistance, and C-reactive protein; were all lowered to a clinically meaningful extent.

And this was in a young healthy population; imagine the miracles it could do for people who are really hurting. “This study extends the findings of other plant-based diets by documenting the impact of a strict vegan diet on multiple measures of oxidative stress and antioxidant capacity.”

Of course, if, instead of a biblical Daniel Fast, they had called it a “strict vegan diet,” they would probably not have gotten a compliance rate of 98.7%, especially in Tennessee.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Evidently not completely satisfied with the scientific rigor of the dietary trial presented in Daniel 1: 8 through 16, researchers in Tennesee published two papers recently, detailing a series of parallel experiments on a 21-day all-you-can-eat diet “devoid of animal products and preservatives, and inclusive of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.” In other words, “food intake in accordance with a stringent vegan diet.”

The purpose of the studies was to determine the effect of a 21-day Daniel Fast on both biomarkers of antioxidant status and oxidative stress, as well as the efficacy of the Daniel fast to improve markers of the lion’s den of metabolic and cardiovascular disease risk.

No surprise that a diet composed of whole plant foods improves several risk factors for metabolic and cardiovascular disease, as well as an improvement in selected biomarkers of antioxidant status and oxidative stress—including metabolites of nitric oxide, which I’ve talked about before. Participants experienced meaningful improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin levels, insulin resistance, and C-reactive protein; were all lowered to a clinically meaningful extent.

And this was in a young healthy population; imagine the miracles it could do for people who are really hurting. “This study extends the findings of other plant-based diets by documenting the impact of a strict vegan diet on multiple measures of oxidative stress and antioxidant capacity.”

Of course, if, instead of a biblical Daniel Fast, they had called it a “strict vegan diet,” they would probably not have gotten a compliance rate of 98.7%, especially in Tennessee.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to swordofthespirit.net

Doctor's Note

Also see the prequel video, Tightening the Bible Belt. Can the drop in biomarkers of inflammation actually translate into an improvement in inflammatory disease progression, though? See Dietary Treatment of Crohn’s Disease and Diet & Rheumatoid Arthritis. The decrease in inflammation is likely a combination of the anti-inflammatory effects of many plant foods (see Fighting Inflammation in a Nut Shell), and the pro-inflammatory effects of animal foods (see the three-video series ending with Dead Meat Bacteria Endotoxemia). The improvement in antioxidant capacity is also not unexpected, given the different Antioxidant Power of Plant Foods Versus Animal Foods.

For more context, check out my associated blog posts:  Stool Size and Breast Cancer RiskBiblical Daniel Fast Tested; and Mushrooms and Immunity.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

51 responses to “Biblical Daniel Fast Put to the Test

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  1. See the “prequel” in Friday’s video-of-the-day Tightening the Bible Belt. Can the drop in biomarkers of inflammation actually translate into an improvement in inflammatory disease progression though? See Dietary Treatment of Crohn’s Disease and Diet & Rheumatoid Arthritis. The decrease in inflammation is likely a combination of the anti-inflammatory effects of many plant foods (Fighting Inflammation in a Nut Shell) and the pro-inflammatory effects of animal foods (see the 3-video series ending with Dead Meat Bacteria Endotoxemia). The improvement in antioxidant capacity is also not unexpected, given the different Antioxidant Power of Plant Foods Versus Animal Foods.

    If all these neat studies intrigue you as much as they do me, make sure to subscribe to my videos (for free) by clicking here.

      1. I agree, it’s a b*tch when someone else is right … and pride just won’t let you admit it. But if you say prejudicial things, it’s likely that eventually someone’s gonna call you on it. Take care.

  2. I’m not from Tennessee and evidently you’re not from Tennessee — but the last cynical swipe strikes me as really petty, and uncalled for. If we’re following a WFPB vegan diet, we’re all human and we’ve all taken some social knocks for it, but it allows us to be on the high road in terms of both moral philosophy/ humane issues AND health science. What call is there for this? It doesn’t help to be negative.  All the best.

    1. Personally, I love Dr. Gregers ‘Bible Banging’.  Tenessee is in the bible belt isn’t it? 
      Nothing like a little flaggelation to get the blood flowing.
      ;-}

    2.  I do live in TN and am a vegan and know several people who have done the Daniel Fast. It was my first experience with people in TN wanting to know how to cook vegan dishes. (I shared as many recipes as I could think of with them.)

      I am not sure that my friends here in Tennessee would take his comment all that badly. The fact that their devotion to their religion supercedes health concerns is not so different from statements by ethical vegans that becoming vegan for reasons of health isn’t good enough. (There are lots of reasons to be vegan. We should open our tents wide.)

      To the doctor’s question: Many people do this fast as part of a committed religious practice. From what I can tell the norm here is for a church group to do it once a year. At least one person I know became a complete vegan after doing the Daniel Fast and improving his cholesterol and other blood markers. (He had coronary heart disease and diabetes and was therefore motivated.) Others might do the fast longer. Or do it intermittently. I always know that a Daniel Fast is on when my cookbooks are suddenly in demand again.

      I’ve been a veg*n for 37 years and I’ve seen a lot of people move in and out of vegetarianism. From what I can tell, the people who do the best at sticking to it have many reasons to do it (ethical, environmental, compassionate, religious, health, etc.)

      1. I like this. Of course I looked up the helpful paper that was cited in this review, and the University researchers themselves have (at least educational) ties to the south and we want to encourage them. If we are vegetarian, then vegan, then low-fat WFPB we are a minority of a minority of a minority, so we should be objective and open and look for friends everywhere. The lesson of Daniel’s experiment was available to critical eyes thousands of years before any modern reseach and it was preserved for a long time — just because of the “bible-thumpers.”

    3. It’s not being negative at all.  He’s being a scienific realist.  You have heard of the “placebo effect”, correct?   It means our emotional expectations and biases make a significant difference on what we experience.  In this case, many ppl are biased against vegan diets, and yet, the reverse is true, many ppl, esp in the “bible belt” are biased in favor of bible ways. 

  3. So interesting!  I’m not a big fan of “the bible told me so”, but if helps some people “see the light”, I guess it is a good tool to use.

    What is really helpful about this study, from my perspective, is that it is yet one more rigorous study showing benefits of the whole plants foods-based diet.  Go science!

  4. I live in Israel and we eat a lot of vegetables in our diet but also eat
    a lot of chicken products not so much beef but mostly chicken eggs and
    diary products. its been a week now and i try eating a whole food (whole
    pasta, red rice, etc) and fruits vegetables and nuts. my BMI is high I
    weight 92kg and my length is 1.80m and in the past 4 mounts i lost 7 kg
    cause i started eating less and running. so my question is for a vegan
    starter like me after running nutritionist say you need to eat proteins in
    the first 15min after you finish running and my question is what to eat
    as a vegan if i want to avoid eggs and meat products? thanks in advance  

    1.  Dear Eliran Vegh,
      The protein from spinach, broccoli, Kale is plenty-sufficient and of such high quality that it may be the protein-of-choice, If you are brain-washed that you need more quantity protein, (I am not convinced you do), you may add the soy-greenbeans [Edamame]…only an ounce will easily meet your protein requirements. You do not need anything that egg or meat based nutrients provide. This plant based lifestyle really works once we have at least 1-2 years eating solely plant based nutrients.

        1.  In addition to what Drbill recommends, you can eat whatever beans and peas are available in Israel. Potatoes have a bit of protein as well.

  5. As part of Dr. Greger’s Tennessee fan base and daily podcast viewer, I must say he’s probably right about acceptance of the “v” word in these parts, unless that word is Vol. More Daniel Fasts, faith-based health outreach are needed along our widening Bible Belt.  Thanks to University of Memphis and Dr. Greger for spreading the good word in the deep south!

  6. I am from Texas and a vegan and a church goer and would be pleased and a little amazed to see the folks here giving this a try, church people eat very badly in the health department and need some education as how much this diet can help them with their many health problems.

  7. Actually, before Daniel’s trial with a vegan diet, God revealed to Adam the original vegan  diet  for mankind- fruits, nuts, grains and seeds.( See 1:29)

    After man’s fall, he was then given permission to also eat the herbs of the field (Gen 3:18)

    It was not until after the flood was man given permission to eat animal flesh, and then only from animals categorized as clean; but never blood.(Gen  9:3-4

    Not to  ever eat blood or animal fat (Lev 3:17).

    1. IKR I remember when I first read Genesis 1:26-31, after I had read other scriptures that were related to food, caring for one’s health,
      respecting others food choices and so on…and I realized that God was calling me to take command of my health! A plant-based diet is a perfect diet, and that’s exactly the kind of one that God provided us at the start. One’s health shouldn’t be the center of one’s life, but it should be a part of one’s life. So many people think that a change in lifestyle is like, dangerous or something. But, I think we are each and all called to care for the world, for ourselves, for each other. And in that same passage, God commands us to “have dominion over” or to care for all the creatures of the earth. Eating in a healthy way seems to be part of that. I look forward to the day when there will be no animals being killed unnecessarily; no people dying from various causes; no sin and destruction. Just think, how beautiful the world will be after Jesus returns to clean all the sin out!

  8. Thank you Dr. Greger for  all of your research. My husband and I are vegans and are enjoying the plant-based foods plus are able to do various exercises at our ages, 78 and 77. Our friends and relatives don’t think they need to change their diets even though we give them these facts. Anyway, we are looking forward to seeing you in San Francisco next month. 

  9. Daniel 10:3 says Daniel routinely ate meat and drank wine when not fasting. You might want to read till the end of the book before using the Bible to defend your claims. It doesn’t.

    1. You raise a good point that sometimes when we read on we get the “rest of the story.” However I looked at Daniel 10:3. The NIV shows: “I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips.” The KJV shows: “I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth.” The ESV shows: “I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth.” I don’t see how this translates into “Daniel routinely ate meat and drank wine.”

  10. It’s interesting to check the Biblical account for more dietary detail.

    The Hebrew youths were questioned because it was thought that they would become malnourished if they continued not partaking of the King’s rich, fatty etc table foods. Which seems to indicate that they had been all along eating a plant-based diet. All they had to prove was that continuing to eat their own way would keep them robust and healthy. Which indeed was demonstrated during their test period.

  11. As Christian and a Vegan, I know that I receive disdain from my fellow Christians for my dietary choices. This is without ANY provocation from me, just from their observations of my choices of food at events. These same Christians will go on a Daniel fast and feel pretty righteous about it. Dr Daniel’s little dig at the end may sting, but I am in strong agreement (except for the Tennessee part, I encounter this in my life no matter the state I am in when it comes from my fellow Christians.)

    1. don’t let what others say bother you. everyone has a right to their own food choices. the next time your friends make fun at you for abstaining from animal-based products and provoke an argument, abstain from the argument but keep in mind this: Romans 14. =)

  12. Love the human psychology reference at the end. It is so true. One could invite someone over for vegan salad, peanut butter sandwiches, etc for lunch and they would never realize they were eating vegan until unless the label was given to the meal. Once the “V” word is used, then the panic sets in and the questions start like where do you get your protein, etc.

    1. “Love is not easily offended.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

      As a Christian and a vegan (whole foods, plant-based eater) — just want to say, thank you Dr. Greger!

      Your work and website has helped us so much, and is such a great resource for those I share with in my community. People out here are genuinely hungry for sound health knowledge and you work tirelessly to help provide it. I am finishing the Cornell Plant Based Nutrition certification as we speak, you did such an awesome job as a contributing professor. (I finally understand insulin resistance because of your great explanation.) God bless you!

      Ps. I think you’re fun. I like your sense of humor and wit, which you lace through all of your posts. Keep up the great work!

      1. PS. Dr. Greger, excellent point about the original Hebrew word used in Daniel 1:12. I’ve studied this passage many times, and the Hebrew word roughly translates to “food from sown seed”, instead of the more limited English translation of “vegetables.” That would include grains, legumes, fruits, etc. In short, Daniel desired and thrived on an abundant whole food, plant-based vegan diet!

  13. Well i didn’t realize a “fast” could include food. Hmph. When I fast, it’s from all calories (and quite short-12 to 18 hours).

  14. This is my second time doing a 10 day Daniel Fast in a few months. Both times my inflammation flared up. In fact, during this second time I discovered a sensitivity to nightshades (potatoes, bell peppers, tomatoes). I have carpal tunnel and bursitis in one shoulder. The more I eat the Daniel diet, the more these have acted up. For the last few days I’ve felt puffy and stiff, lethargic and a couple of times my feet were on fire while my hands were hot, too. The way I feel is the same as when I spend a few days eating things that have sugar, wheat and pork. I’m so discouraged to feel so bad eating good foods. It occurs to me that it’s possibly detox symptoms. I get how the acids being pulled out of my hands and feet tissues (shoulder as well) will cause some pain but why are they on fire? I do take magnesium and even spray with transdermal mg. I take fish oil. I obviously have leaky gut so I take bentonite clay and chlorella. I’m also on Olive Leaf to build my immune system. Has anyone else experienced flare ups on Daniel Fast?

  15. I recently heard of a recent study that found that when a human fasts new cells will appear in the brain–or was it rats? Anyway I usually hear the brain cells of an adult do not divide. What is the truth of this? They may have been non-neuronal cells. Anyway, how about synapses? And how about the heart and kidneys? I have heard they –like the brain–do not regenerate, but what if one is fasting?

  16. I watched a lot of your videos but I never saw a video about fasting. I saw once a really good documentary (unfortunately just in German/French) that discussed all the benefits of fasting. Are there any (recent) studies on this topic or could you make a video about this. I think that would be interesting (not just for me.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPU65RormlY

    1. Hey Tommy sorry I don’t have much to add but my reply about fasting can be found here and Hemo’s reply may also be helpful. I am against fasting because I feel like a healthful diet is more important. Water fasting can be extremely dangerous in uncontrolled environments without doctors approval. A quick search on PubMed shows fasting for one day may have some benefits to reducing heart disease, however, I would never suggest it do the lack of research. Water fasting seemed to help those with hypertension, but this was conducted in a controlled environment within a clinical study. There is far more research on the efficacy of plant-based diet for hypertension and heart disease.

  17. Hi,

    I can’t seem to find the answer to my question on your site; sorry if I just missed it somewhere.

    I’m wondering what to expect when transitioning to vegan. I have been eating very clean the past month, aside from “vegan bread” twice which I don’t actually know what was in it, but my body has been working in ways it wasn’t before. I’d just like to know what detox symptoms when going vegan are “normal”. Or if there’s a general process and timeline of what will happen physically. Thanks :)

  18. Hi Annie, I’m Dr Renae Thomas, one of the medical moderators :) This is a tough question to answer as every one has different experiences! In my experience I would say most people just feel great! Some people notice some digestive changes as their body adjusts to a higher fiber content and a diet higher in legumes. Some people have cravings for awhile and find it a little difficult to know what to eat, but this all eases with time, and self-education (such as recipes). Detox symptoms are not that common, it’s more an adjustment period, some may find skin and hair changes, but honestly the idea of detox is overrated in my opinion…

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