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Long-Term Extreme Fasting Following a Traditional Chinese 'Bigu' Regimen: A Preliminary Retrospective and Prospective Cohort Study

39 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2018

See all articles by Chao Wang

Chao Wang

Tsinghua University

Ligang Ming

Nanshan Branch of Qilu Hospital

Qi Wang

Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)

Tingting Cao

Tsinghua University

Liping Wang

Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) - Institute of Neuroscience

Zijing Zhou

Tsinghua University

Dan Tong

Tsinghua University

Wei Li

Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)

Yiqing Wu

Tsinghua University

Hong Ding

309th Hospital of Chinese People’s Liberation Army

Di Liu

Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) - Wuhan Institute of Virology

Minghui Zhang

Tsinghua University - School of Medicine

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Abstract

Background: Fasting has long been a ritual or practice in varied religions, and recently, has been noticed to reduce the risk factors of metabolic diseases. In China, varied populations performed a traditional Taoism fasting practice, called Bigu regimen, which lasted for 21-day with <5% calorie intake. However, the safety and applicability of this procedure haven not been investigated.

Methods: A total of 144 volunteered participants in six camps following the 21-day fasting (with <5% of normal diet) were investigated. 124 were examined for physical biomarkers and 53 of which also had biochemical markers. Another open label, non-comparative, phase 1/2 prospective cohort study enrolling 20 participants with metabolic diseases was also performed. The physical indices, biochemical biomarkers and gut microbiota were collected at varied point of the fasting procedure. Statistical comparison and metagenomic analysis were performed. This study was registered in ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT03193177).

Findings: Our preliminary retrospective cohort study showed that no severe adverse event (grade 3 or above) was reported, and all biomarkers fluctuated within the safe ranges, except for the urea acid. The 21-day fasting could significantly reduce BMI and blood pressures. The prospective cohort study of the metabolic diseased participants showed a significant reduction of BMI (3.3±1.0) and systolic blood pressure (28.7±17.8 mmHg) after the fasting procedure. The data also presented significant ameliorations on overweight (16/16), hypertension (11/11) and fatty liver (9/9). Obvious structural alteration of gut microbiota was also observed during the fasting procedure.

Interpretation: The 21-day fasting appeared safe and feasible for both healthy and unhealthy people. It could ameliorate the risk factors associated with hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Meanwhile, it could help to reform and/or reconstruct the structure of gut microbiota.

Funding: This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China and China Overseas-Educated Scholars Development Foundation.

Declaration of Interest: We declare that we have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval: All recruited participants have signed voluntary informed consent for collection and analysis of blood and fecal microbiome samples under Institutional Review Board (IRB)–approved protocols (THUMED-BG-170612).

Suggested Citation

Wang, Chao and Ming, Ligang and Wang, Qi and Cao, Tingting and Wang, Liping and Zhou, Zijing and Tong, Dan and Li, Wei and Wu, Yiqing and Ding, Hong and Liu, Di and Zhang, Minghui, Long-Term Extreme Fasting Following a Traditional Chinese 'Bigu' Regimen: A Preliminary Retrospective and Prospective Cohort Study (August 22, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3237012

Chao Wang (Contact Author)

Tsinghua University

Beijing, 100084
China

Ligang Ming

Nanshan Branch of Qilu Hospital

Yantai
China

Qi Wang

Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)

52 Sanlihe Rd.
Datun Road, Anwai
Beijing, Xicheng District 100864
China

Tingting Cao

Tsinghua University

Beijing, 100084
China

Liping Wang

Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) - Institute of Neuroscience

Shanghai
China

Zijing Zhou

Tsinghua University

Beijing, 100084
China

Dan Tong

Tsinghua University

Beijing, 100084
China

Wei Li

Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)

52 Sanlihe Rd.
Datun Road, Anwai
Beijing, Xicheng District 100864
China

Yiqing Wu

Tsinghua University

Beijing, 100084
China

Hong Ding

309th Hospital of Chinese People’s Liberation Army ( email )

Beijing
China

Di Liu

Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) - Wuhan Institute of Virology ( email )

Jiangxia, Hubei
China

Minghui Zhang

Tsinghua University - School of Medicine ( email )

Beijing, 100084
China

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