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The Greek Orthodox Fasting Longevity Effects

Posted by moodhacker on March 18, 2018 at 10:30 AM

Easter is close , and traditionally , Greeks are fasting for 50 Days , since the "Clean Monday" Day,   till the Easter Day that celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ .  

According to tradition faithful Greeks will not consume meat, eggs and dairy products to "clean their body and soul" for Easter.

But how resultful is that Mind and Body detoxification, the Greek lent tradition points to?

A recent study on the Mout Athos monks diet in Greece published in Nature magazine,  "Health benefits and consequences of the Eastern Orthodox fasting in monks of Mount Athos: a cross-sectional study" has shown clear evidence for the health benefits of the strict Athonian Orhtodox Fasting  through optimal lipid and glucose homeostasis.

Greek Orthodox fasting,  which involves 180–200 days of fasting per year, is dictated by the Christian Orthodox religion, Nature magazine described .. For the first time, this cross-sectional study examined the characteristics and the effects of  Orthodox Fasting on anthropometry, cardiometabolic markers and calcium homeostasis in Athonian monks .


  • The reserchers found that the daily energy intake of 70 Athonian monks (age=38.8±9.7 years) was low during both  restrictive days and non restrictive days (1265.9±84.5 vs 1660±81 kcal, respectively, P<0.001).

  • Paired samples t-test showed statistically significant difference between daily intakes in restrictive days' and non restrictive days' carbohydrates (159.6±21.8 vs 294.3±23.4 g, P<0.0001) and saturated fat (12.7±0.0 vs 16.4±0.0 g, P<0.0001) were lower,
  • whereas protein (89.2±1.3 vs 72.35±1.3 g, P<0.001) was higher during restrictive days and non restrictive days.

A subsample of 50 monks (age=38.7±10.6 years) formed a study cohort for cardiometabolic and calcium homeostasis assessment.


  • Body weight (74.3±12.9 kg) and body mass index (BMI; 23.8±4.1 kg/m2) were independent of level of physical activity.


  • Optimal profiles for lipid and glucose parameters (total cholesterol: 183.4±41.7 mg/dl, LDL: 120.6±37.6 mg/dl, triglycerides: 72.2±31.3 mg/dl, HDL: 48.5±14.2 mg/dl and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) 1.02±0.40) were found.
  •  Profound hypovitaminosis D (8.8±6.2 ng/ml), high parathyroid hormone (PTH): 115.5±48.0 pg/ml with normal serum calcium levels (8.9±3.2 mg/dl) was observed.


Mount Athos  is considered one of the most sacred sites in all of Christianity, with priceless relics and chanting, prayer, and rituals dating back to the Byzantine Empire.


Indeed, it's a way of life long forgotten in today's connected world. There are no newspapers, televisions, radios — and certainly no computers. In fact, anything that could prove distracting from prayer, including women, is forbidden.The monastic state, which has remained virtually unchanged for more than 1,000 years.


"The monks here have one goal, and that is how they can get closer to God," Father Serapion, a Mount Athos monk had explained to "60 Minutes." show during the past years.


While the monks' embrace of the old ways is miraculous, a great deal has also been made of their incredible health. There's little cancer and virtually no heart disease or Alzheimer's.

“What seems to be the key is a diet that alternates between olive oil and nonolive oil days, and plenty of plant proteins,” Haris Aidonopoulos, a urologist at the University of Thessaloniki had said to Mothernature Network.. “It’s not only what we call the Mediterranean diet, but also eating the old-fashioned way. Small simple meals at regular intervals are very important.”


Speaking at the Atherosclerosis Society of Northern Greece event within the framework of the 8th Pan-Hellenic Atherosclerosis Conference, in 2011,  Mount Athos monk Epifanios Mylopotaminos had described  that .

“Monastic diet is not merely what we call the Mediterranean diet. It is also the fact that monks eat in the old traditional way of two meals per day, one in the morning and one in the evening.

Two simple meals lasting about twenty minutes, free of conversation and disruptions” highlighted the Mount Athos monk.

While the eating habits vary slightly from one monastery to the next, there are some consistent themes that offer some explanation for their robust health.

According to Aidonopoulos, the monks avoid olive oil, dairy products and wine on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Everything is locally grown, including the grapes used to make the Agioritiko red wine.

The staples are fruit and vegetables, pasta, rice and soya dishes, and bread and olives.


During fasting periods, a strict vegan diet is adhered to for weeks at a time.


Besides community prayer for more than eight hours a day, the monks also perform chores that work their bodies and contribute to a healthy level of daily exercise.. Such a restriction in caloric intake may also help contribute to increased longevity.


So, want to eat like a monk without living like one? Mother Nature Network suggest the followiin  tips to keep in mind:


1. Decrease your intake of red meat. Keep everything in moderation, and if necessary, consume only lean poultry or fish.

2. Decrease dairy like milk, cheeses and butter. Use olive oil in the place of butter and almond milk as a substitute for cow's milk.

3. Consume more fruits and vegetables, especially dark-colored veggies that are high in antioxidants.

4. Keep your portion sizes small but regular throughout the day.

5. Meditate to de-stress — or find time to take a quiet walk.

6. Exercise regularly — anything that can get your body moving, stretched and active.


sources: Nature magazine, Mother Nature Network

Categories: Spiritual Greece and Faith, Recipes you will only find in Greece , Greek to me Holistic

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