Can humans survive only on air and light?

I’m sure you all think this is a very odd question, and I can’t blame you at all, but there are some people out there who see this practice as a lifestyle. A group called the Breatharians claims to have the answer to world hunger and other food-related diseases, and this might surprise you. It’s to stop eating altogether! Or rather live off prana which in translation is “life force” and involves living on light and air.

Breatharians believe not only that the human body can sustain itself on other things rather than food and water, but also that it should focus to universal energy as a form of nourishment. The concept of prana is not something new as it appears in many other cultures, such as China, Japan and Polynesia. Prana is considered to be the basic life-force and the original creative power. The Breatharian philosophy lies in the fact that you should not depend on material things such as food and water and instead use the Universe’s force in order to survive. Controlling your body’s needs for material nourishment and replacing it with prana is the supreme mind control.

What the Breatharian diet entails

Now that you know to a certain extent what this diet is, you might be a bit intrigued. How is this possible, you might wonder? Well, in simply put terms, living off prana involves deep breathing and sun gazing.

People who have been following this lifestyle for a while claim that the best way to do this is to convert to Breatharianism gradually. Therefore, you first become a vegetarian, then move to veganism. Afterwards, you start only eating raw foods, then fruits, then liquids, and finally you only sustain yourself with prana. What we normally call food is replaced with air and light as metaphysical nourishment.

Breatharianism has been linked to the deaths of several people

Ok, so now that we’ve covered on what this diet is and what it entails, we’ll start discussing facts. This diet’s main focus is on fasting. And whilst, studies have shown that there are some health benefits associated with intermittent fasting, there are some people out there to claim to have not eaten for years and that they are instead sustained by some sort of cosmic nourishment. Not to be disrespectful, but you are not a plant. You require proper food and liquids not just to live a healthy life BUT to survive!

Fasting is not something new. It’s been around for thousands of years and is a major spiritual aspect of most religions, including Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. It’s considered the truest form of prayer. However, the difference between fasting and the breatharian diet is that fasting has an endpoint, whilst the breatharian approach doesn’t end until your life does.

What happens when you stop eating?

People need usually between 1400 to 1600 calories a day for just basic metabolic functioning, i.e to keep your heart beating and lungs working. This is just the basic number of calories. You need more to get over an illness or perform your daily activities such as going to school or work.

Do you want to know what happens to the human body without food and water?

  • During the first 12 hours, nothing major happens. Without food, the body will start finding new ways to maintain glucose levels. In the beginning, it starts breaking down glycogen into glucose which your body uses as fuel.  As the glycogen stores eventually run out, this method of energy production stops. You start getting hungry and irritated.
  • During the first three days, your body enters ketosis. As your body doesn’t receive any other nourishment, it will start breaking down fat for energy. Just to be clear, ketosis isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The keto diet, which involves eating low amounts of carbs, is proven to aid in weight loss. It is true that in small doses, like during intermittent fasting, ketosis can be beneficial for our bodies. But not eating for three days will definitely have a negative impact on your body.
  • By the third day, your brain won’t be able to work properly as it receives no form of nourishment. After those three days, your body will basically start eating itself, as it doesn’t have any other stores of sugar and fat.
  • Between 1 and 2 weeks, your body’s immune system starts to shut down as it doesn’t receive any vitamins or minerals. Certain functions such as menstruation and libido will start shutting down as well. Your muscles will weaken and your heart will stop working properly. This is why it is common for people with anorexia to die of a heart attack. At this point, permanent kidney damage, hair loss and heart disease are just a few of the conditions you might experience.
  • If you reach between 3 weeks and 2 months of not eating, your body will reach such a high point in its starvation process that death is very likely.

However, dehydration is an even more serious business. Dehydration has immediate fatal effects. Whilst a person can potentially survive without food for a couple of months, without water you can survive at best two weeks. The body loses water through urine and sweat. During dehydration, there is a build-up of toxins in the blood and eventually, the organs start failing. You develop kidney failure, and as there is an electrolyte imbalance you also get arrhythmia. Moreover, dehydration leads to seizures and permanent brain damage and more importantly it can lead to death.

 

My final point is that you should use common sense when reading about these crazy diets. Don’t believe every testimonial out there. One of the advocates of the Breatharian diet, Ellen Greve, was tested during the tv show 60 minutes to see whether she would be able to stay off food and water for a week. After a few days she started rapidly losing weight, she was extremely dehydrated and her pulse doubled, meaning that her health was deteriorating with each day she was not properly nourishing her body. After the experiment was stopped, she claimed that the reason this was not successful was due to pollution. Do I need to say more?

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