From Religion to Secularism: the Benefits of Fasting

Carla Venegas-Borsellino, Sonikpreet, Robert G. Martindale

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: Since the early development of human societies, religious beliefs, and practices has been integral to their identity, culture, and social structure, traditions are influenced by the area, era, and culture wherein they developed. Some religions offer advice on behavioral and diet modifications as strategies to fortify the body, purify the spirit, and elevate consciousness. This review is an attempt to compare different practices, describe the health benefits and risks of fasting, and reconcile these age-old recommendations with practical modern life. Recent findings: Research to clarify and quantify the impact of these dietary modifications is challenging due to the variability in recommendations among various religions and in day-to-day practices. Summary: Most religions share common goals of well-being, body-mind integration, and spiritual attainment. Historically, the transformational power of fasting periods has been appreciated, but there is still much to discover about the underlying beneficial physiologic mechanisms of fasting in preventing and treating metabolic diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-138
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Nutrition Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Buddhism
  • Caloric restriction
  • Daniel Fast
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Orthodox fasting
  • Religious fasting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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