Researchers recently set out to replicate the "Daniel Fast," the biblical nutrition trial outlined in Daniel 1:8-16.
In my last blog post Poultry Paunch, I featured results from the EPIC study, one of the largest studies ever performed. The gold standard, however, is an interventional study where you put people on a certain diet and track what happens. It's easy to get people to make little changes, but increasingly we're seeing evidence that to see big changes in our health, we need to make big changes in our diet. Moderation kills: check out my videos Heart Attacks and Cholesterol: Dying Under Normal Circumstances and Trans Fat, Saturated Fat, and Cholesterol: Tolerable Upper Intake of Zero.
People who want to lower their risk can certainly tweak their diet, but those who want to eliminate their risk or reverse disease really have to take healthy eating seriously. How are public health professionals going to get folks to commit to a healthy diet? Maybe by telling them the bible told them so.
In Daniel, Chapter 1, verses 8-16, the prophet best known for his lion's den rather than his budding role as nutritional scientist resolved not to defile himself with the king's meat. When this was met with resistance, Daniel proposed a test: round up some test subjects, put them on a plant-based diet, and see how they do. And what do you know! They ended up looking healthier and better nourished, so Daniel got to stick to his veggies. As I note in my 2-min. video Tightening the Bible Belt, though the King James version uses the word "vegetables," the original Hebrew version can translate into a broader definition. 2700 years later, researchers at the University of Memphis decided it was time to try to replicate the study. Watch my 2-min. video Biblical Daniel Fast Put to the Test to find out the results.
Can the drop in biomarkers of inflammation they found in the study 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.
-Michael Greger, M.D.
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