Daniel Fast: Physical and Spiritual Benefits and How to Do It
Would you like a way to connect with God and improve your health? The Daniel Fast may be your answer. Implementing a Daniel Fast has both spiritual and physical benefits. It is an incredible way to draw closer to God while improving your health at the same time.
The Daniel Fast is based on the Biblical account of the life of prophet Daniel. In two chapters of the Bible, it is noted how Daniel fasted from meat, wine, and other rich foods while praying and seeking God. Christians have followed Daniel’s example by implementing the Daniel Fast.
The Daniel Fast is a partial fast that includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, healthy fats, and water. The fast avoids meat, dairy, sugar and other processed foods. As you cleanse your body of unhealthy foods and consume a nutrient-dense, plant-based diet, your health may also improve.
While you may experience significant health benefits on the Daniel Fast, the true purpose is to have a deep spiritual experience. As you take your eyes off food and self-gratification, you can focus completely on God. This will open your heart and mind to hear and receive from Him.
The Basics of Fasting
Fasting is going without certain foods or all foods for a period of time. It has been practiced since ancient times for its ability to heal the body and for spiritual reasons.
Fasting is gaining renewed emphasis as recent studies are showing the incredible health benefits of fasting (1). Many people are incorporating fasting into their lifestyle as they look for ways to improve their health naturally.
The top 12 benefits you can experience with fasting are:
- Reduces inflammation;
- Stimulates the development of stem cells;
- Improves genetic repair mechanisms;
- Reduces the risk of chronic disease;
- Stimulates cellular autophagy;
- Takes stress of the digestive system;
- Stimulates fat burning;
- Boosts energy levels;
- Improves insulin sensitivity;
- Enhances mental health;
- Improves relationship with food; and,
- Spiritual growth and fine-tuned intuition.
For more information on these benefits of fasting and how to apply fasting into your life, read this article.
Different Ways to Fast
One of the great things about fasting is that there are many ways to incorporate fasting into your lifestyle. Fasting varies by types of fasts and the length of your fast. You can practice intermittent fasting for as little as 12 hours a day to extended fasting for several weeks.
The numerous types of fasts include water fasts in which all foods are restricted, dry fasting which eliminates food and water, and partial fasts.
With partial fasts, certain foods are restricted or eliminated. Examples of partial fasts include bone broth fasting, green juice fasting and fasting mimicking diets. Another type of partial fast is the Daniel Fast.
What is the Daniel Fast?
The Daniel Fast is based on the fasting experiences of the Old Testament prophet Daniel. In the book of Daniel in the Bible, two chapters discuss Daniel’s partial fast.
In Daniel 1:12-20, King Nebuchadnezzar wanted Daniel and his friends to eat the royal food and wine so that they would be “strong and healthy”. The royal foods included meat and other rich foods (2).
Daniel did not want to eat the king’s delicacies because he believed it would defile his body. So, Daniel asked the king to test him for 10 days by allowing him and his friends to eat only vegetables and water and then compare them with the young men eating the royal food.
After 10 days, Daniel and his friends looked healthier and stronger so they were allowed to continue eating vegetables instead of the meat and delicacies that the king provided. From fasting, Daniel gained wisdom, spiritual understanding, favor and better health.
Later in the book of Daniel, Daniel fasted for three weeks. (Daniel 10: 2-3) “At that time, I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over” (3). Daniel ate only for sustenance, not indulgence or pleasure. Daniel’s fast resulted in answered prayer and spiritual insight.
How Long Should You Do the Daniel Fast?
The length of a Daniel Fast depends on the individual. Popular methods are 10 or 21 days as practiced by Daniel. When Daniel first challenged the king, it was for a period of 10 days. Later in the book of Daniel, he did a 21-day fast.
If you want to implement the Daniel Fast for an extended time, there are factors you should consider. The Daniel Fast is a plant-based vegan diet. While there are health benefits to a plant-based vegan diet, there are also possible risks.
Vegan diets can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, blood sugar dysregulation, low complete protein and fat intake, and more. For these reasons, I recommend not going for extended periods without some animal products in your diet.
How to do a Daniel Fast
Foods have the power to heal our bodies or to harm our bodies. The Daniel Fast includes nutrient-dense, whole foods that are vital for good health and excludes harmful foods that are loaded with toxic fats, sugars, and chemicals.
Foods Included on the Daniel Fast
Only foods that are grown from seeds are allowed on the Daniel Fast. This includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, and healthy fats. Water is the primary beverage allowed.
Vegetables – The basis of the Daniel Fast
- Organic fresh or frozen are best.
- Vegetables to consume on the fast include: artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chili peppers, collard greens, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, ginger root, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, onions, parsley, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, scallions, spinach, sprouts, squashes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, yams, and zucchini.
- Organic, fresh or frozen fruits are best.
- Low-glycemic fruits such as lemons and limes, berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries), granny smith apples, and grapefruit do not cause spikes in your blood sugar. You should have a maximum of ½ cup each of berries, granny smith apple and grapefruit per day.
- Higher carbohydrate fruits should be limited to no more than ¼ cup per day. These include apricots, oranges, apples, apricots, bananas, boysenberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, figs, grapes, guava, honeydew melon, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, strawberries, tangelos, tangerines, watermelon, and pomegranate.
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Olives and extra virgin olive oil
- Coconuts, coconut butter, coconut oil
- Coconut butter
Most versions of the Daniel Fast include whole grains. It is best to only consume sprouted ancient grains, gluten-free oats (soaked), brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat. These grains and other moderate carbohydrate vegetables should be limited to no more than one cup per day.
Beans and other Legumes
Beans and legumes are high in starch and carbohydrates. These should be limited to around ½ a cup daily.
It is best to buy organic beans and legumes, soak them overnight, and cook them well to avoid digestive symptoms. The beans and legumes included are:
- Beans – Pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans, white beans)
- Peas – split peas, black-eyed peas
Nuts and Seeds
- Raw, sprouted, or dry roasted with no added salt are best.
- All nuts, including but not limited to hazelnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, pecans, cashews, macadamia nuts, pine nuts
- Seeds including flax seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds
- Nut and seed butters with no added sugars or preservatives
Herbs and Spices
- Organic and fresh (if available) herbs and spices are best.
- Turmeric, cilantro, basil, oregano, ashwaghanda, ginseng, star anise, milk thistle sage, Echinacea, valerian, passionflower, lemongrass, green coffee bean extract, peppermint, chamomile, coriander, maca, and kava kava
- Water (clean, filtered)
- Almond milk, coconut milk, macadamia milk, coconut water, coconut kefir, and fresh green juices with no added ingredients including preservatives.
- Organic herbal teas
- Coffee is not recommended on the Daniel Fast. However, if you do consume coffee, limit it to one cup per day. It is also important to drink organic and mold-free coffee.
- Hypoallergenic vegan-based protein powder such as SuperDigest Protein
- Fermented vegetables
- Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
- Small amounts of stevia and monk fruit
Foods Excluded on the Daniel Fast
- All meat and animal products including but not limited to beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and fish
- All dairy products including but not limited to milk, cheese, cream, butter, and eggs
- All sugars and sweeteners including but not limited to honey, syrups, molasses, date, honey, agave, and cane juice
- All leavened bread including Ezekiel Bread (it contains yeast and honey) and baked goods
- All refined and processed food products including but not limited to artificial flavorings, food additives, chemicals, white rice, white flour, and foods that contain artificial preservatives
- All hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated fats and highly processed oils (margarine, shortening, canola oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, rice bran oil, cottonseed oil, sesame oil, and peanut oil)
- All fast foods
- Beverages including but not limited to carbonated beverages, energy drinks, and alcohol
Benefits of Implementing the Daniel Fast
The Daniel Fast emphasizes the spiritual benefits of fasting by focusing on prayer and fellowship with God. However, when you do this fast, healing can take place spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
Implementing a fast is an incredible way to focus on and depend upon God for strength and wisdom. Fasting requires denying your physical and mental needs and being reliant on God.
With both of Daniel’s fasts, he was fasting to concentrate his mind on God rather than his personal needs and wants. He combined prayer with fasting. When prayer and fasting are combined, both can reach a higher level of effectiveness.
In addition to the book of Daniel, there are numerous places in the Bible where fasting was practiced. Many other Biblical figures fasted including Moses (Exodus 34:28), David (2 Samuel 1:12), Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4), Anna (Luke 2:37), and Jesus (Matthew 4:2) (4).
While on the fast, I encourage you to spend quiet time every day studying the Bible, reading a devotional, praying, worshipping, and writing in a journal. Try to document what God is speaking to you during the fast and what you are learning about Him, yourself, and your life.
Physical Benefits of the Daniel Fast
Not only will the Daniel Fast improve your spiritual, it can also improve your physical health. This is because the Daniel Fast eliminates toxic, disease causing foods and incorporates nutrient-dense healthy foods.
The Daniel Fast is a whole food, plant-based diet. Eating a plant-based diet has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases (5).
The Daniel Fast is rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables provide a range of nutrients and different bioactive compounds like phytochemicals (phenolics, flavonoids, and carotenoids). They also contain fibers, antioxidants, beneficial plant compounds, and essential vitamins and minerals including potassium, magnesium, calcium, vitamins A, C, and folate.
This nutrient dense, whole foods fast is a great way to replenish nutrients in your body and improve your overall health. Let’s look at a few specific health benefits of the Daniel Fast.
One of the main benefits of the Daniel Fast is that it reduces the toxic load on our bodies. Processed foods, conventional animal products, farmed fish, and hydrogenated fats and processed oils are full of toxins. When our bodies accumulate these toxins, we can develop chronic infections, allergic reactions, and other health issues.
Toxins can interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects (6). Toxins also interfere with your metabolism and cause weight gain (7).
The Daniel Fast removes foods that are high in toxins and incorporates foods that can help to rid your body from toxins. A plant-based diet helps to cleanse the blood, liver, digestive tract, and kidneys. This is critical for overall health, disease prevention, and can even help prevent premature aging (8).
Strengthens Your Immune System
The Daniel Fast can help to strengthen your immune system and reduce inflammation. These benefits come from replacing processed foods, which contain pesticides, chemicals, and other toxins, with nutrient-dense whole foods.
The vegetables and fruits included in the Daniel Fast are loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help control oxidative stress in the body and prevent or delay cellular damage. Antioxidants protect your body from chronic disease by neutralizing and removing damaging free radicals from the body, modulating inflammatory processes, and boosting your immune system.
Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant found in plant foods. These active compounds help to regulate immunity and target multiple inflammatory pathways. Studies show that polyphenols play a beneficial role in preventing and slowing the progression of chronic diseases (9).
Oxygenates Your Cells
Oxygen-rich blood cells are healthy blood cells. Many of the foods on the Daniel Fast contain chlorophyll, the green pigment in vegetables, some fruits, algae and sea vegetables. Chlorophyll allows blood to transport oxygen to cells, protects against free radicals, and helps with intestinal regularity, detoxification, wound healing, and deodorization of the body (10).
Great sources of chlorophyll are spinach, arugula, and other dark green, leafy vegetables, parsley, garden cress, green beans, leeks, spirulina and chlorella. You should eat a variety of these foods while on the Daniel Fast.
Improves Your Skin
The vegetables and fruits included on the Daniel Fast are incredible for your skin. They hydrate the skin and are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. For example, vegetables and fruits contain:
- Vitamin A – crucial for cell growth and regeneration
- Vitamin E – protects skin cells from free radical damage
- Folate – critical for DNA repair and helps produce and maintain new cells
- Beta carotene – helps to protect against sun damage and can review and repair the skin
- Lutein – boosts hydration levels and protects against sun damage
With all of these nutrients, you may notice healthier, more radiant skin while on the Daniel Fast.
Helps You Lose Weight
The Daniel Fast eliminates toxins that contribute to weight gain. Toxins affect the number and size of fat cells, cause blood sugar and hormonal imbalances, and alter brain function. Toxins in food can also lead to unhealthy cravings.
The Daniel Fast can also help to reduce excess weight by supplying the body with the nutrients it needs. For example, vegetables (especially green leafy), fruit (avocados and raspberries), nuts and seeds, and legumes all contain magnesium. Magnesium is a critical mineral for balancing blood sugar, regulating bowel movements, improving energy, and reducing sugar cravings.
We live in an acidic world. Processed foods, conventional meat and dairy, stress, and environmental toxins disrupt our pH balance and make our bodies more acidic than alkaline. Chronic acidity results in the loss of energy and promotes chronic disease.
The Daniel Fast removes these highly acidic foods and includes oxygen rich foods to help alkalize your body. This balances your body’s pH which is critical for overall health (11).
Preparing for the Daniel Fast
To experience a successful fast, you should prepare your body and mind. There are steps you can take to make your Daniel Fast a more positive and effective experience.
Prepare Your Mind
Clear as many distractions as you can during the fasting period. You want to separate yourself as much as possible from daily life and focus your time and attention on God. Set aside extra time for prayer, study, journaling, and rest. Ask God for direction and input as you develop your purpose and goals for the fast.
Prepare Your Body
Start reducing foods that are eliminated on the fast at least one week before you begin. Taper off caffeine and begin eliminating processed foods with added sugar and other refined carbohydrates. Remove these foods from your and have plenty of healthy foods on hand to get started.
Tips for Success on the Daniel Fast
Some helpful tips for implementing the Daniel Fast are:
- Drink plenty of filtered water (at least 64 oz of water each day).
- Spend time each day studying the Bible, praying, worshipping, and journaling.
- Take walks in nature and do other exercises during the fast.
- Get plenty of sleep on a consistent schedule.
- Add Himalayan salt to your water to increase the electrolytes.
- Work with a health coach who can guide you on the fast.
Intermittent Fasting While on The Daniel Fast
To accelerate the health benefits of the Daniel Fast, I recommend intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is eating solid foods within a certain window each day, ideally 6-8 hours, and fasting for the remaining hours.
There are many health benefits of intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting boosts the immune system, stimulates cellular autophagy, improves genetic repair mechanisms, improves insulin sensitivity, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases (12).
For people new to fasting, start with a simple fast of 12 hours for 1-2 weeks and see how your body responds. This short fast is basically from dinner until breakfast the next day.You can increase your fasting time as your body adapts to not eating at certain times of the day. For the best intermittent fasting strategies and information on how to fast, check out this article.
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Implementing a Daniel Fast is an incredible way to grow spiritually while improving your physical health. The Daniel Fast is based on the life of Daniel as documented in the Bible. Daniel fasted from meat, wine, and other rich foods while praying, fellowshipping with God, and seeking wisdom from God.
The Daniel Fast is a partial fast that includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and water. The fast avoids meat, dairy, sugar and other processed foods.
The Daniel Fast is a spiritual experience with significant health benefits. The main purpose of the Daniel Fast is to connect and hear from God as you focus completely on Him rather than food and self-gratification. In addition, removing toxic, disease causing foods from your diet and eating mostly vegetables and fruit can give your health a significant boost.