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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Fasting is good for the heart

As well as a spiritual discipline during Lent, fasting one day each month can reduce the chances of heart disease.

That’s the claim of a new study based on the experience of Mormons, who historically have lower rates of heart disease than other Americans. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches fasting.

Benjamin Horne, study author and director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at Intermountain Medical Center, Salt Lake City, said the association between fasting and healthy arteries could be due to timing: “When you abstain from food for 24 hours, it reduces the constant exposure of the body to foods and glucose.”

Describing fasting as “a sabbath of sorts,” Tammy Devine, ELCA wellness manager, said: “It allows our bodies to rest and gives us the opportunity to refocus, to center on God.

“As a spiritual discipline, fasting helps us listen to our bodies, thoughts and emotions; be attentive to empty spaces; notice when or if we’re hungry; and intentionally connect to God in prayer.”

She added that fasting doesn’t necessarily mean that we abstain from eating: “It can simply mean that we eat mindfully."


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