The Need for a Change in Individuals’ Dietary Intake
Simply put, the food intake guidelines of the Daniel Fast appear to promote enhanced health. Based on our initial findings, coupled with the anecdotal reports of thousands of individuals, if such a dietary approach was maintained on a regular basis (possibly with a few modifications to allow for additional food choices such as lean meat and low-fat dairy products), it may represent the “ideal” diet for many individuals seeking enhanced health and function via food intake.
That being said, there will be exceptions to this, in that some individuals may require additional intake of protein, additional intake of “energy dense” carbohydrate, and additional intake of calories in order to support their active lifestyle. Note: For some highly active individuals requiring a high caloric intake, it can be difficult to consume such high amounts while eating only “clean” foods, as mandated on the Daniel Fast. For such individuals, modifications would need to be considered—understanding that one specific dietary plan will never be appropriate for all individuals. However, it has been our observation that most individuals tolerate the Daniel Fast plan very well (including those who exercise regularly and intensely), and would likely be capable of maintaining the plan long-term without much difficulty—in particular if caffeine were allowed, along with small amounts of meat and dairy. Therefore, we strongly endorse an eating plan in accordance with the Daniel Fast guidelines. If more individuals adopted such an approach, the physical health of our society as a whole would likely improve greatly.
The statement above is made in consideration of the following simple fact: As a nation and as an industrialized society in general, we are facing a major problem in managing the battle against chronic overeating and the development of an obese state. Lack of physical activity also contributes to this problem; however, for most individuals, the routine ingestion of high calorie and low quality foods is the main culprit. Recent estimates indicate that worldwide, 400 million individuals are classified as obese (Body Mass Index ≥30kg/m2), with an additional 1.6 billion individuals classified as overweight (Body Mass Index 25.0-29.9kg/m2).
Related to the above figures, consider the following facts:
First, there are an estimated 7 billion people living in the world today. Of these, roughly 50% or 3.5 billion survive on less than $2.50 per day. While it is possible that some of these individuals are capable of purchasing and consuming adequate food to actually grow themselves into the overweight category, it is very unlikely. Therefore, we can exclude these individuals and estimate that roughly 1.6 billion of the remaining ~3.5 billion people worldwide are overweight. Therefore, accounting for the number of individuals who are obese, approximately 50% of the worldwide population who live on more than $2.50 per day is at the minimum, overweight. That itself is both frightening and discouraging.
Of course, there are those who argue that the Body Mass Index should not be used as a tool to stratify individuals, because it fails to account for a high degree of muscle mass (which inflates an individual’s body mass and hence yields a higher Body Mass Index). This is indeed true. But the reality is that most people worldwide do not have such good fortune to carry a high degree of muscle mass. If Body Mass Index was used to stratify a group of competitive bodybuilders, this would be a legitimate problem. However, for the majority of individuals tested (99%), the Body Mass Index is a simple and effective tool. It does exactly what it is designed to do. People simply need to accept the fact that they may in fact be overweight or obese (despite the negative and sometimes inappropriate connotations of these words), and then make a serious commitment to do something about it. The guidelines provided in The Daniel Cure: The Daniel Fast Way to Vibrant Health (Zondervan, 2013) may help.
The optimal treatment plan for this epidemic likely includes increased physical activity, structured exercise (both aerobic and resistance training), and modification and restriction in dietary intake. Other methods such as the use of pharmaceutical agents or dietary supplements are also considered by many individuals; however, lifestyle approaches should always be considered first. Regardless, any time an individual begins a new program of exercise, nutrition, or dietary supplementation, it is imperative to first consult with a qualified health care provider.
An interesting perspective…
A man was traveling in Africa on a mission trip and was asked the following question by a native of the country. “Is it really true that people in America pay money to actually lose weight!?” Think about that for a minute. This question was likely raised by a man who had little or no food to eat, and would consider himself blessed to sit down to one good meal per day. But the simple and yet embarrassing answer to this man’s question is…yes. In fact, weight loss products, procedures, and services comprise a multi-billion dollar per year business within the United States alone. On top of these elective products and services, obesity related costs within the United States are estimated at well over $100 billion annually, with Medicare and Medicaid financing about half of the expense. Moreover, obesity is strongly linked to co-morbidities such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer—many cases which are preventable (in particular type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease) if individuals could maintain a normal body weight (Body Mass Index ‹25kg/m2). Considering the debilitation effect that these co-morbid conditions have on both the quality and quantity of one’s life, adopting approaches to ensure the maintenance of a normal body weight appears paramount.