Daniel Fast Ongoing Research

Scientific research sometimes seems like an endless pursuit of answers—many of which simply raise more questions. Of course, the answering of questions necessitates the design and implementation of well-controlled research studies. These studies allow for at least a partial understanding of the chosen area of investigation, while providing new ideas and the motivation to continue seeking answers. Research pertaining to the health benefits of the Biblically-based Daniel Fast is currently of prime interest to us.

If you are an investigator or clinician interested in this line of inquiry, or possibly in collaborating with us on future studies, please contact us for further discussion.

The studies described below are in various stages of pre-publication. For a review of those studies currently published as peer-reviewed manuscripts, please click here.

Compliance to a Traditional and Modified Daniel Fast over Six Months

RATIONALE AND DESIGN

Although the compliance to the Daniel Fast plan has been near 100 percent in our past work, it should be stressed that the fasting protocol lasted for only 21 days. As with most dietary plans, an individual can be successful in the short-term. However, if an eating program is to be adopted as a lifestyle approach, it must be something that can be done long-term. Therefore, in a recent study we felt it important to extend the duration of the fast beyond three weeks while also making a comparison to a plan that involves some of the main food items that people tend to miss the most (e.g., meat, dairy products and caffeine).

Related to the above, in reviewing participant comments from past studies, it was apparent that many people would like to eat an occasional piece of meat, as well as some dairy products. Most also missed coffee and tea, two drinks that contain caffeine—which is not allowed on a traditional Daniel Fast. All of these foods have potential health-enhancing properties. For example, lean meats and dairy are great sources of protein and have many vitamins and minerals that aid overall health. These foods also may help maintain the good HDL-cholesterol and lean body mass (muscle). Both coffee and tea have significant antioxidant content that potentially could result in favorable health-related effects.

Based on this evidence, we compared data from a long-term (six-month) traditional Daniel Fast (with allowable black, unsweetened coffee and tea) with a modified Daniel Fast (with allowable black, unsweetened coffee and tea; one serving [3 ounces] per day of lean meat; one serving [8 ounces] per day of skim milk).

The study design was similar to that of our prior work presented on the “Published Research” page, with inclusion of a variety of biochemical and anthropometric measurement variables. Subjects were assigned to either the traditional or the modified Daniel Fast groups. Compliance and other outcome measurements were obtained at three weeks, three months, and six months and compared between groups.

RESULTS

The compliance for both the traditional and modified groups was similar at all times (three weeks, three months, and six months), decreasing gradually over time from approximately 95 percent at three weeks, to 85 percent at three months, to 80 percent at six months for subjects who completed the study. These values were then compared to those of other popular diet plans and noted to be superior in those subjects who completed the study. For example, a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association compared the compliance rates of four popular diets: Atkins, Zone, Weight Watchers, and Ornish (Dansinger et al., Comparison of the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone Diets for Weight Loss and Heart Disease Risk Reduction: A Randomized Trial, Journal of the American Medical Association, 293, no. 1 (January 5, 2005): 43–53). The authors presented subjects’ self-reported dietary adherence scores that were far lower than what we observed for the Daniel Fast. Specifically, compliance values at three months were 50 percent or lower for all diets, and values at six months were 40 percent or lower. Compare this to the Daniel Fast compliance numbers of 85 percent (at three months) and 80 percent (at six months), and you can see clearly that the Daniel Fast (either the traditional or modified) may be a much more reasonable long-term strategy for dietary success.

Note: This study has been completed but the results have not yet been published.

Comparison of a Traditional or Modified Daniel Fast to a Typical Vegan Diet

RATIONALE AND DESIGN

The Daniel Fast is much more than a vegan diet. While vegan diet plans restrict all animal products, as does the traditional Daniel Fast, vegan diet plans make no exclusions beyond this. That is, they allow for processed and packaged foods, refined flour, caffeine, alcohol, additives, preservatives, flavorings, chemicals, etc. It is our belief that these foods and food ingredients are those that may promote ill-health over time; not necessarily the low-fat animal foods. The traditional Daniel Fast does not allow for any such unhealthy food items, while the modified Daniel Fast only allows for small amounts of lean meat and low-fat dairy products but maintains all other aspects of the traditional Daniel Fast plan. Hence, both Daniel Fast plans are much more stringent than a typical vegan diet plan. Based on these facts, it was our thought that the overall health benefits of following a traditional or modified Daniel Fast would be greater than those observed following a typical vegan diet.

Men and women were assigned to either a traditional or modified Daniel Fast, or a typical vegan diet plan for a period of 21 days. Multiple health related outcomes were obtained both before and following the 21 day period. Results for this study are currently pending.

Note: This study was recently completed but the data have yet to be analyzed.

Influence of Dietary Modification with and without Exercise on Physical and Cognitive Performance

RATIONALE AND DESIGN

The over-production of what are called reactive oxygen species (ROS), or free radicals, leads to oxidation of important molecules that influence overall health. Increased ROS generation, which is routinely observed following the consumption of high fat, sugar-rich foods, is associated with local and systemic inflammation. Both ROS and inflammation are implicated in mitochondrial aging and impaired physical and cognitive performance, and thought to be a main contributing factor to human disease. Consuming a purified diet such as the Daniel Fast, coupled with regular physical activity, may reduce ROS production and inflammation, subsequently improving both physical and cognitive performance.

Long-Evans rats (4 weeks old) were randomly assigned to consume one of two diet plans, with and without exercise. The dietary plans include 1) a purified plant-based diet (mimicking the human Daniel Fast), including a high percentage of low glycemic carbohydrate (~65%), moderate protein (~15%) and moderate fat (~20%), with a high quantity of dietary fiber and essential fatty acids; 2) a typical “Western Diet” including typical amounts of carbohydrate (~43%), protein (~17%) and fat (~40%) found in the average American diet. The exercise program consists of three days per week of treadmill exercise, performed for up to 45 minutes per day. A total of 56 male rats were assigned to one of four conditions: Daniel Fast with exercise, Daniel Fast without exercise, Western diet with exercise, Western diet without exercise. Before the start of the intervention and at three month intervals over a one-year period, animals are tested for the following variables: body composition and bone density (using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry), physical performance (using a treadmill test to exhaustion for aerobic endurance; wire hang test for muscular strength/endurance; slant board test for sensorimotor control), and blood biomarkers (e.g., cholesterol, glucose). Throughout the entire one-year intervention period, animals’ cognitive ability is assessed six days per week using a computerized test battery. At the conclusion of the one-year intervention, tissues will be collected from animals for the assessment of oxidative stress and inflammation using both biochemical and molecular biology approaches.

We hypothesize that the purified diet (Daniel Fast) and exercise program will yield favorable outcomes in terms of physical and cognitive performance, owing to a reduction in oxidative stress and inflammation. Data from this study should provide mechanistic evidence regarding the influence of dietary intake and physical activity on both physical and cognitive performance across the lifespan. These initial findings may prompt long-term human clinical studies focused on similar outcomes.

Note: This study is currently in progress.

Related Research

If our work with the Daniel Fast interests you, you may also desire to read about our related work, much of which can be accessed in full text PDF form by visiting PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed).

Simply use the search term “Bloomer and Memphis” and several articles will appear. When you click on each article, you will be able to view the abstract. For many articles, you will be able to save and/or print the full text PDF. This option is typically available by clicking on the icon in the top right corner of the screen, once on the abstract page for a specific article. For those articles not freely available in full text form, please contact us if interested in receiving the full text version. We would be glad to provide a copy.