Effect of Jain Fasting on Anthropometric, Clinical and Biochemical Parameters

November, 2022 by Pratap Sanchetee, Prakash Sanchetee, M. K. Garg

Background and Aims:

Fasting has a long tradition in most cultures and has many health benefits. Most of the studies are from daytime fasting or intermittent fasting. There is paucity of data from complete fasting (no food and fruits, water only). This prospective study is conducted with aims to study impact of complete fasting on clinical and biochemical parameters.


One hundred ten participants of either gender who voluntarily fasted (3-30 days) were included and underwent clinical and biochemical examination before and after fasting.


Fasting results in improvement in anthropometric, physical, and biochemical parameters related to physical health. It can be recommended as a mean for improving quality of life.

Keywords: Anthropometry, Fasting, Lipid profile, Serum Cortisol.


Fasting is primarily an act of voluntary abstinence or reduction of some or all food, drink, or both (absolute), for a period of time lasting typically between 12 hours and 3 weeks to focus on health and/or spiritual uplift. Fasting has a long tradition in most cultures and religions. Religious fasting is intertwined with ritual and spiritual discipline. There is a widespread practice of fasting in many religious cultures including Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Jainism and Hinduism around the world. Calorie restriction triggers a complex series of intricate events, including activation of cellular stress response elements, improved autophagy, modification of apoptosis, and alteration in hormonal balance. Controlled studies with animals and human have found fasting protects or improves several cardiometabolic risk factors, such as diabetes, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, inflammation cytokines, obesity, and hypertension.

The challenge of long fasting is to maintain physiological homeostasis relying solely on endogenous resources. There are behavioural, physiological, and biochemical responses that reduce metabolic rates, maintain tissue structure and function. During the initial few hours of fasting, liver glycogen is the source of glucose in the body and subsequently extrahepatic source comes to rescue.

Jains observe fasts of different types and of different duration. Human studies have largely been limited to observational studies of religious fasting during Ramadan, which are type of intermittent fasting, whereas Jain fast are water only fast. Hence, the changes occurring with intermittent or alternate day fast cannot be extrapolated to complete fasting.

While religions have long maintained that fasting is good for the soul, but its bodily benefits were not widely recognized until the early 1900s’. The bulk of the scientific evidence for the health benefits of fasting has come from animal studies or fasting in human being in Islamic Ramadan. There are limited number of studies conducted in Buddhist or Christian populations but none on Jain fasting. This study aims to study impact of Jain fasting on health i.e., weight, BMI, pulse, blood pressure, lipid profile, renal functions, blood sugar, hematological parameters, serum proteins, and serum cortisol.


A total of 110 subjects (M: 27, F: 83) in the age range of 13-86 years (average 50.2 years) participated in the study. While 72 subjects did short fasting (average 3.4 days), 38 did prolong fasting (average 10.1 days). Mean BMI of participants was 27.08 (16.1-45.2).

There was significant decrease in weight, BMI, SBP, serum globulin and serum HDL post fasting. However, significant increase was observed in pulse rate, fasting plasma glucose, blood urea, albumin globulin ratio, serum TG, VLDL, and serum cortisol levels [Table 1]. These changes were similar in both genders (data not shown).

Table 1:

Change in anthropometric, clinical, and biochemical parameters with fasting

Parameters Pre-Fasting Post Fasting P (Paired ‘t’ Test)
BMI (kg/m2) 27.1±4.9 26.2±4.9 <0.0001
Pulse Rate (beat/min) 81±10 83±11 0.001
Systolic BP (mmHg) 130±17 128±15 0.012
Diastolic BP (mmHg) 81±10 81±9 0.301
Haemoglobin (gm/dl) 13.2±1.5 13.2±1.5 0.907
Fasting Plasma Glucose (mg/dl) 102.9±35.0 132.0±42.0 <0.0001
Blood Urea (mg/dl) 24.9±8.0 28.6±14.3 0.014
S. Creatinine (mg/dl) 0.75±0.19 0.73±0.19 0.339
S. Total Protein (gm/dl) 7.47±0.54 7.37±0.62 0.109
S. Albumin (gm/dl) 4.40±0.35 4.37±0.39 0.408
S. Globulin (gm/dl) 3.10±0.42 3.01±0.41 0.024
Albumin/Globulin Ratio 1.44±0.19 1.48±0.21 0.012
S. Triglycerides (mg/dl) 137.6±68.3 149.0±67.1 0.031
S. Total Cholesterol (mg/dl) 203.0±46.9 203.9±49.1 0.736
S. HDL (mg/dl) 48.3±12.2 45.7±12.6 <0.0001
S. LDL (mg/dl) 132.8±37.8 132.8±37.8 0.585
S. VLDL (mg/dl) 22.0±10.5 24.2±11.1 0.010
S. Cortisol (μg/dl) 13.5±5.9 17.2±6.3 <0.0001


Prolong fast lead to significantly higher weight loss, decrease in BMI and fall in hemoglobin, serum total protein and serum globulin when compared to short fasting. Serum triglycerides levels and albumin globulin ratio increased significantly with prolong fast when compared to short fast. On the contrary, fasting plasma glucose was significantly increased after short fast than prolong fast. Several parameters e.g., pulse rate, blood urea, serum creatinine, serum albumin, serum total cholesterol and serum LDL showed increase with short fasting, whereas decreased significantly with prolong fasting. There was no significant difference in SBP, DBP, serum HDL, serum VLDL and serum cortisol between short fasting and prolong fasting [Table 2].

Table 2:

Change in anthropometric, clinical, and biochemical parameters according to fasting duration:

Parameters Short Fasting (3-≤7 days, n=72) Prolong Fasting (>7-30 days, n=38) P
BMI -0.75±0.35 -1.1±0.40 <0.0001
Pulse Rate (beat/min) 3.2±6.3 -0.5±4.9 0.003
Systolic BP (mmHg) -2.4±9.2 -1.7±7.9 0.674
Diastolic BP (mmHg) 0.9±5.0 -0.3±4.9 0.248
Haemoglobin (gm/dl) 0.24±0.57 -0.42±1.20 <0.0001
Fasting Plasma Glucose (mg/dl) 39.7±40.7 8.8±30.0 <0.0001
Blood Urea (mg/dl) 8.8±15.5 -6.2±8.7 <0.0001
S. Creatinine (mg/dl) 0.02±0.13 -0.08±0.15 <0.0001
S. Total Protein (gm/dl) 7.47±0.54 7.37±0.62 <0.0001
S. Albumin (gm/dl) 0.09±0.22 -0.24±0.39 <0.0001
S. Globulin (gm/dl) 0.03±0.35 0.01±0.12 <0.0001
Albumin/Globulin Ratio 0.01±0.12 0.07±0.16 0.026
S. Triglycerides (mg/dl) 7.6±45.6 18.7±68.9 0.003
S. Total Cholesterol (mg/dl) 10.5±21.4 -17.3±29.1 <0.0001
S. HDL (mg/dl) -2.1±6.2 -3.8±10.0 0.275
S. LDL (mg/dl) 9.8±19.6 -14.7±28.0 <0.0001
S. VLDL (mg/dl) 2.8±7.5 1.2±11.0 0.364
S. Cortisol (μg/dl) 3.5±6.0 3.9±6.2 0.749


The present study, first of its kind on prolong fasting, has convincingly demonstrated an improvement in BMI, blood pressure, and lipid profile. Serum cortisol levels increased with duration of fast. Fasting is a cost-effective, non-invasive, has minimal risk of adverse effects for practice in most cases, and has the added benefit of improving physical fitness.



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About Author

Pratap Sanchetee:  pratap.sanchetee@gmail.com

Bhagawan Mahavira International Research Center (BMIRC), JVBI, Ladnun, Rajasthan, India

Sanchetee Hospital, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India.

Prakash Sanchetee: Medical Practitioner, Kolkata, West Bengal, India.

M. K. Garg: Department of Medicine and Endocrinology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India.

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