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Nutrition. 2019 Mar;59:69-76. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2018.07.003. Epub 2018 Jul 24.

Christian Orthodox fasting in practice: A comparative evaluation between Greek Orthodox general population fasters and Athonian monks.

Author information

1
Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, First Department of Internal Medicine, Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, AHEPA University Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece. Electronic address: Karraspiros@yahoo.gr.
2
Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, First Department of Internal Medicine, Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, AHEPA University Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece.
3
School of Life Sciences, Pharmacy and Chemistry, Kingston University London, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, United Kingdom.
4
School of Life Sciences, Pharmacy and Chemistry, Kingston University London, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, United Kingdom; Department of Sport Psychology, Institute of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Muenster, Germany.
5
Nutrition Unit, Geneva University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland.
6
Sarafianos Private Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Christian Orthodox fasting (COF), a periodical vegetarian subset of the Mediterranean diet, has been proven to exert beneficial effects on human health. Athonian fasting is a pescetarian COF variation, where red meat is strictly restricted throughout the year. Previous studies have examined the COF nutritional synthesis and health effects in general population fasters (GF) and Athonian monks (AM), separately. The aim of this study is to comparatively evaluate the characteristics and effects of this nutritional advocacy between the two populations.

METHODS:

The study included 43 male GFs (20-45 y of age) and 57 age-matched male AMs following COF. Dietary intake data were collected in both groups during a restrictive (RD) and a nonrestrictive (NRD) day. Nutritional, cardiometabolic, and anthropometric parameters were compared between the two cohorts.

RESULTS:

AM presented lower daily total caloric intake for both RD (1362.42 ± 84.52 versus 1575.47 ± 285.96 kcal, P < 0.001) and NRD (1571.55 ± 81.07 versus 2137.80 ± 470.84 kcal, P < 0.001) than GF.They also demonstrated lower body mass index (23.77 ± 3.91 versus 28.92 ± 4.50 kg/m2, P <0.001), body fat mass (14.57 ± 8.98 versus 24.61 ± 11.18 kg, P = 0.001), and homeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance values (0.98 ± 0.72 versus 2.67 ± 2.19 mmol/L, P < .001) than GF. Secondary hyperparathyroidism (parathyroid hormone concentrations: 116.08 ± 49.74 pg/mL), as a result of profound hypovitaminosis D [25(OH)D: 9.27 ± 5.81 ng/mL], was evident in the AM group.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results of the present study highlight the unique characteristics of Athonian fasting and its value as a health-promoting diet. The effects of limitation of specific vitamins and minerals during fasting warrants further investigation.

KEYWORDS:

Calcium homeostasis; Cardiometabolic markers; Christian Orthodox fasting; Lipids; Mediterranean diet; Nutrient intake

PMID:
30423548
DOI:
10.1016/j.nut.2018.07.003

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