Study shows positive results for Daniel fast
Published: Sunday, January 15, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 22:11
A biblical fasting method studied by a University of Memphis professor is being practiced at churches across the nation.
Richard Bloomer, interim chair of Health Sport Sciences, is the first to conduct a study on a Daniel Fast, providing evidence to churches of its beneficial results.
A Daniel Fast is a plant-based vegan diet, consisting of whole grains, fruits, beans, nuts and vegetables. It is based on Daniel, the biblical character who chose to eat such food while imprisoned to avoid violating Jewish customs. After ten days the guards were surprised to see that Daniel was healthier and stronger than those who ate the regular food.
Vinegar, herbs, all soy products and oils are also allowed. No meats, fats, breads or beverages other than water can be consumed.
As a New Year's tradition, many modern Christians and Jews follow the Daniel Fast to help them focus on prayer and attain a closer relationship with God while improving their health.
"For a lot of people, the main challenge is food preparation. People are eating foods, but it's very restricted for people who don't cook. They find it challenging to come up with meals. You can't find them at fast food places or restaurants," Bloomer said.
Bloomer and his research team's study consisted of 13 men and 30 women. The subjects were physically assessed before the study; researchers took their heart rate, blood pressure and a blood sample.
Subjects kept a record of the foods they consumed on the diet. After the 21-day testing period, results showed improvements in the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic diseases such as stroke and diabetes. The team is conducting further research on how a Daniel Fast can maintain cholesterol levels.
"We've seen weight loss, but the thing seen the most is a decrease in blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation and type 2 diabetics see blood sugar levels decrease in as little as three weeks," Bloomer said.
Bernard Kimble, pastor of The Mount Olive Baptist Church of Shreveport in Louisiana, petitioned his congregation to join him on the Daniel Fast this January for both spirituality and health. Bloomer said they are just one of many churches engaged in fasting right now.
Kimble and his wife, Pheobe, said the fast was successful for them when they participated for the first time.
"Last year, we experienced weight loss, losing over 21 pounds in 21 days. My wife is a diabetic. Since then, her numbers have come down, her medication has changed and we haven't gained back any of the weight. I have continued to fast and pray throughout the year," Kimble said.
Kimble prepared his congregation for the fast with a month-long series of teachings from the Book of Daniel. Many churchgoers had ailments which could be improved through fasting, such as high blood sugar.
The fast comes from two stories in the Old Testament. The first account is from the first chapter of Daniel when Daniel was captured from Israel by the Babylonians. The second story from the book of Daniel comes from the tenth chapter when Daniel fasts for 21 days eating no meat, bread, wine or sweetened food.
"Our primary reason to embark upon this journey was to have a more sensitive ear to the voice of God. I feel that if food is a major culprit of illness and sickness than food can also make us well," Kimble said.
There are two incentives for people to partake in the Daniel Fast.
"From a Christian perspective, they fast to become closer to God and focus on prayer. Contemporarily, they continue because they see physical benefits," Bloomer said.