The Daniel Fast can have a profound and life-altering effect on your body. When you move to a Daniel Fast menu of eating whole plant foods—in or close to their most natural state—you’re both adding foods that restore health and eliminating foods that put you at greater risk of inflammatory chronic illnesses, like obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers and autoimmune diseases, etc.
Adding Daniel Fast foods that help your body
The food groups on the Daniel Fast are vegetables, fruits, intact whole grains, legumes (beans, peas, lentils), nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. Eating a variety of these foods provides all the macronutrients your body needs. What’s unique about eating whole plant foods is that they are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. These foods are anti-inflammatory and stop free radicals.
Eating a diet rich in fiber from whole plant foods can improve gut health as well as promote weight loss. Besides making you feel full, fiber makes you feel good: it produces short chain fatty acids that feed helpful gut bacteria, influencing hunger and satiety hormones and your mood.
Vegetables and fruits contain thousands of biologically active phytochemicals—plant-derived beneficial compounds. These compounds interact in numerous ways to promote health and prevent disease. For example, the high glucosinolates found in cruciferous vegetables like collard greens, broccoli, kale, bok choy, and cabbage have been shown to prevent cancer. The best way to take advantage of these complex interactions is to eat a variety of whole plant foods, in or close to their most natural state. You don’t get the same benefits of these complex interactions from supplements.
What the science shows
- Eating eight daily servings of vegetables and fruits was associated with a 20–30% reduction in heart attack and stroke compared to people who ate less than 3 servings/day.
- Consuming at least five servings of vegetables and fruits lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 20%.
- Increasing vegetable and fruit intake from 3 servings a day to 9 servings a day is associated with higher bone mineral density and lower levels of bone resorption loss—measurements that determine the risk of osteoporosis. One study showed that higher intakes of vegetables and fruits are associated with a decrease in urinary calcium loss by 50 mg per day and reduced biochemical markers of bone turnover.
- A plant-based diet reduces pain and inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Removing foods that can harm your body
In the Bible, Daniel requested to abstain from the King’s diet of meat and wine. He did not want to “defile” himself.
Removing animal products and alcohol from your diet can help you restore health and prevent chronic diseases. Animal foods like meat and dairy are pro-inflammatory, promote oxidative stress, and damage endothelial function—that means they harm the single layer of cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels. Below are seven substances found in meat and animal products that harm your body.
1. TMAO (Trimethylamineoxide)
The carnitine in meat interacts with gut bacteria forming trimethylamine, which is then metabolized by the liver to form TMAO. TMAO promotes the formation of cholesterol plaques in blood vessels and increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death. TMAO may also increase the risk of prostate cancer.
2. HCA (Heterocyclic Amines)
HCAs are formed when amino acids, sugars, and creatine or creatinine (found in muscle) reacts when meat is cooked at temperatures of 300°F and above. Heterocyclic amines have been found to cause changes in DNA, increasing the risk of cancer.
3. PAH (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons)
PAHs are formed when fat and juices from meat grilled directly over a heated surface or open fire causes flames and smoke, as well as smoking of meats as in BBQ. Like HCAs, PAHs have been found to be mutagenic, causing changes in DNA and increasing cancer risk.
4. Heme Iron
This dietary form of iron found in meat, poultry, seafood, and fish can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis (blocked arteries) by catalyzing production of hydroxyl-free radicals and promoting low density lipoprotein oxidation. Studies have found an association between heme iron and increased risk (from 19% to 57% higher) of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.
5. Neu5GC (N-glycolyneuraminic acid)
Neu5GC is a molecule found mainly in beef, pork, and lamb that increases the risk of tumor formation in humans. This molecule is absorbed into human tissue after consuming these animals and triggers an inflammatory immune response.
6. AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products)
Advanced glycation end products are proteins or fats that become glycated after exposure to sugars. AGEs contribute to a variety of microvascular and macrovascular complications by blocking nitric oxide activity in the endothelium (the lining of your blood vessels) and increasing the production of free radicals. AGEs are formed when animal products are cooked. High levels of accumulated AGEs have been linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, dementia, and premature aging.
Bacterial toxins, primarily originated from raw or cooked animal products. Endotoxins cause the release of proinflammatory cytokines, which harms blood vessels and impairs heart muscle contraction. These proinflammatory cytokines have been linked to the development and progression of atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, and heart failure.
That’s a lot of science! The bottom line is that the Daniel Fast can transform the health and function of your body, mind and spirit. This happens by adding more foods that promote health, while eliminating foods that harm your body. Side effects of the Daniel Fast typically include increased energy, weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, improved blood pressure, as well as mental and spiritual clarity.
Need ideas on what to eat?
Check out the recipes at Daniel’s Plate. Below are a few worth checking out.