Food and water are a staple for all human beings, and they are essential if you want to survive. The human body needs energy and nutrients from the food that we eat and hydration to function correctly. Hence, you will be surprised to know that we and our bodies can survive for many days without water. We can sometimes survive for weeks without food if our body adjusts to energy consumption and food intake.
Eradicating the food intake for an extended amount of time is also simply known as starvation. After some time, as stated above, the body will eventually adapt to no food intake at all. It will function differently to minimize the amount of energy it burns.
According to the world’s recent changes, there have been multiple exciting pieces of research on starvation, some old research, and some new. It discusses compulsory starvation – as in you cannot afford to buy food at all – and voluntary starvation like a hunger strike in protest of something, fasts, and other instances. Some research examples are:
A source in Archiv Fur Kriminologie testified that the body could survive without food for a minimum of eight days and a maximum of 21 days. If there is significant water intake, the body can survive for up to two months.
Another example from a research study corroborates with the above analysis: the body can survive up to 21 days without any food intake. After that, the person concerned will show several severe and lethal symptoms.
What Factors Affect Survival
Think of the factors that would ensure our survival if we tried to survive without food. These factors include your age, body size, general health, fitness, genetic variations, and other health considerations.
How Is It Possible to Survive
Being able and willing to live for weeks with no food seems impossible to most of us. Even fasting for a day seems too long. Besides, it also makes us lethargic and very irritable.
Surprisingly, your body will eventually adapt to the non-consumption of food if you do fasting intermittently. This makes it easier for people to fast to lose weight or fast for religious purposes without doing extensive harm to the body. Generally, your body takes about eight hours to change itself and how it functions if you do not go without food for this much time.
Typically, your body breaks down the food you eat into glucose, and this glucose then provides the much-needed energy to the body so it can continue to function correctly. After the 8 to 12 hour mark, once the body realizes that there will be no more incoming food, there will be a glucose shortage in the body as there aren’t any resources to convert the food into glucose. Then, the body will, instead, start to convert the glycogen from your muscles into glucose.
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When both your glucose and glycogen levels are all but gone, the body will turn to amino acids to provide the much-needed energy. This process of converting amino acids into energy will adversely start affecting your muscles. You can function for about three to four days of starvation before your metabolism starts acting up to save body tissues.
To prevent this from happening, the body will find a new solution and turn to the fat stored and create energy through a process called ketosis. Because of this, you will undergo a substantial amount of weight loss. This is the reason why women do a crash diet and mostly fast. It helps in reducing body weight in a ridiculously little amount of time. Women have a higher fat content than men, which is why they can go without food for more extended periods. Hence, it is evident that the more fat you have, the more time you can survive while you starve. Think of polar bears who eat massive amounts of fat before hibernation. Once the fat stores have been completely depleted, the body will return to breaking the muscle tissue for energy.
The Importance of Water
It has been proved that water will help you survive while you reject food. Water is the solution if you want to survive more days without food. Remember to drink significant amounts of water to see a change.
Even still, no matter how hard you convince yourself that water will help you go without food for more days, it will taper off, and you will see the side effects of starvation. Effects such as fainting, dizziness, low blood pressure, lethargy, organ failure, and/or heart attack will be seen in some extreme cases.
And those who starve themselves for a long time have a challenging journey ahead of them in attempting to rewire their body. At this time, they cannot consume the usual amount of food at once. The body needs to be gradually introduced to solid foods to avoid any adverse or harmful reactions. When you can eat again, it would be best for you to follow a diet that is lactose-free, low-carb, low in protein, and low in sugar.
In conclusion, while human bodies are strong enough and can function for weeks or even months-long without proper food, they should not be exploited. Going without food for prolonged amounts of time is not healthy and certainly not at all advised. The body needs all the nutrients and vitamins it can find, and if you deprive it of it willingly, you will experience the side effects listed above. So, do not try this, and if you do, certainly not for extended periods.