How Long Can You Live Without Food?

Water and food consumption is essential for our body to function. They are the basic source of energy and nutrients and without having them for days can result in paralysis and death. This is the very reason why a lot of people, especially in poorer countries, are dying out of hunger. Luckily for us, food is not something difficult to have. There are a lot of innovations that allow us to eat healthy foods in an instant. Frozen foods, instant foods, emergency foods, and many more.  

But how long can our body able to function without food? While we cannot survive a week without water, we may survive a few weeks without food. Here are the things you need to know. 

 

When a person’s food and water intake is limited for a certain amount of time, that is called starvation, and depending on the intervention, starvation would eventually lead to death. There is no actual research done those studies human starvation as it has been considered unethical to study human starvation with real individuals. Despite this, there are still old researches that can be used as a reference and new studies that observe real-life situations that depict hunger and starvation in different places.  

 

The following are some observations about hunger and starvation according to some studies: 

  1. Our body can last up to two months without food but with adequate water intake, but eight to 21 days when there is no water intake. The final day could be the death situation. 
  2. The British Medical Journal studied the hunger strike that happened in the modern days and found out that hunger strikes usually end between 21-40 days and are stopped because of the harmful and lethal symptoms that the participants experienced. 
  3. Individuals who have normal weight are most likely to significantly reduce body weight within three days compared to those obese individuals. 
  4. Lesser BMI will not be able to sustain life in starvation. Men with more than 13 BMI cannot sustain life and the same goes for women with less than 11 BMI. 
  5. Women tend to survive hunger and starvation longer than makes due to their body composition. This is because women have more fats stored in their bodies compared to men, and after three days of starvation, the body heavily relies on fats to operate. 

 

What makes us able to withstand starvation for several days is our body’s ability to adjust to the changes that they are experiencing. This is the very thing that allows certain people in religious communities and other individuals who limit their food intake to survive starvation until senior years without having negative consequences to their body and brain. On the other hand, individuals who do not practice fasting may experience adverse effects of starvation in just a couple of days, which include irritability, energy loss, and others.  

 

The body needs up to eight hours before it can adjust its ways to the changes that it experiences. And then on, it will continually use any source of energy in the body, from glucose, glycogen, amino acids, to fats. But when all of these have depleted, this is where the body begins to have life-threatening symptoms and will eventually lead to death.  

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