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October 2022

Ups J Med Sci. 1983 ; 88(2): 109-19.

Changes in metabolism during a fasting period and a subsequent vegetarian diet with particular reference to glucose metabolism.

Lithell H, Vessby B, Hellsing K, Ljunghall K, Höglund NJ, Werner I, Bruce A.

During an investigation on the effect of fasting and a vegetarian diet on the symptoms and signs in chronic cutaneous and arthritic diseases studies were made of glucose metabolism, liver function and the plasma concentration and urine excretion of some minerals. The study was performed on 27 patients who stayed as in-patients on a metabolic ward for five weeks. After the fasting period the blood glucose and serum insulin concentrations were lower (p less than 0.01) than before the fast. At the end of the period on the vegetarian (vegan) diet (three weeks) the insulin/glucose ratio was lower than at the start of the fast. Serum enzyme concentrations reflecting liver function increased during the fast, but normalized during the vegan diet. The intake of vitamin B12 and of selenium due to the vegan diets was very low, which may give reason for some concern during long-term use of this type of vegetarian diet.

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