How long can a person live without food

Answers to How long can a person live without food

Generally, most experts say that a person can live about three weeks without food. Of course, other factors influence this amount of time. If an individual is trapped somewhere and also can't get anything to drink, they will die within a few days of thirst. If the person is severely ill, they could die from that illness or, at least, survive much less time do to food deprivation and illness combined. If someone is not eating because they have lost the will to live, the end could come much sooner. An obese person who is otherwise in good health could last considerably longer than three weeks due to their fat reserves.

So when answering the question, "How long can a person live without food?", these four major factors must be considered:

1. Weight when fasting begins.
2. Amount of water or other liquids ingested.
3. The general health of the individual.
4. The person's mental desire to live.

So what's the longest amount of time that a person can live without food? In 1981, a group of Irish Republican political prisoners in a British prison went on a hunger strike to protest the British occupation of Northern Ireland. Most of them were in good health and mentally motivated to stretch out their vigal as long as possible. Their leader died after 66 without food. The shortest time amoung the group was 46 days, but one of the protesters, Lawrence McKeown, lasted between 70 and 73 days (there's some question about the exact number due to conflicting reports). That is the longest verifiable amount of time on record.

The actual cause of death for most people who starve to death is divided amoung three main maladies (although there are others). Heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure account for most of the deaths.

Another often asked question is, "How long can I safely go without food as a way to lose weight?". And the answer is, "Don't ever completely stop eating as a method of weight control!" This is especially true if you are already very thin, in less than perfect health, or mentally depressed! Under the wrong conditions, you could die in a matter of days!

You should always get a physical check up before reducing your food intake below normal. Again, this is vital to your survival if you plan to severely reduce your eating! In general, a healthy, average height female should never consume less than 800 calories per day. You will lose weight resonably quickly at that rate! Men should never go below 1000 calories per day. Understand that even those amounts are critically low! You need to get a doctor's opinion to reduce your food intake to that point. Be sure to take vitamin supplements and eat foods with protein.

How long can you survive without food and water
How long can you live without food and water is certainly an important survival question and understanding its answer can be of the greatest use when survival is at stake. If you know the answer and the reasons for it, you can make the most strategic survival decisions.

Avoid Going Without Food or Water
Ideally the survivor has planned ahead and has a supply of survival food and water on hand. If not, in the majority of survival situations an adequate supply of water is often quite easy to find. Food is usually more difficult and more time and energy consuming to gather.

Without Food or Water
One of the most important things you need to understand in a survival situation is that having enough water to drink is far more important than having enough survival food. Although it is difficult to live without food for more than a day or so, many people have lived a month or more without anything to eat. Even when hungry, survivors are able to reasonably function and either extricate themselves from the survival situation or wait until help arrives.

However we cannot live without water for more than a week or ten days even in the most ideal conditions. Within a day or so of going with water your body will lose its efficiency to do work. Your thinking will become cloudy and you will be prone to injury. In a dehydrated state it is difficult to rescue yourself or provide the means to survive while awaiting rescue. Therefore water is the limiting factor in typical survival situations lasting more than several days.

Maximizing Survival Time without Food or Water
But there is more to know about living with food and water. If your water supply is limited, or may be limited in the near future, do not eat! The processing of food within the body requires large amounts of water. If you are not drinking enough water, water will be withdrawn from your body tissues to digest your food. The result: increased dehydration.

If you do not have water, do not eat food!
The only time food will be the limiting factor in how long you can survive is when you have an unlimited water supply, no food, and self extraction or rescue will take more than a month or more. This is a most unlikely survival scenario.

So the answer to the question “How Long can you live without food or water?” is actually boils down to the simpler question of how long can you can survive without water.

More Information
It seems to be a question that people are particularly interested in, whether it is relation to reality shows which challenge their contestants to go as long as possible without the necessities of life, including food and water, or it is in response to the seriously underfed craze of thin and sleek bodies that prompts the question. The question itself is cause for concern, in hopes that people realize that regardless of the answer, it’s not healthy to try it.

There are medical doctors, doctors of philosophy and psychiatry, as well as scientists who are currently arguing that why someone is starving can have a serious impact on how long they can survive starvation. People who are being starved, and want to live, such as political prisoners, have a strong will to survive their starvation while people at their end of their life have a stronger will to be at peace. The mind can be a very powerful tool in determining how things affect us. Starvation, some professionals claim, is no different. People have been know to survive under very harsh conditions for weeks on end without relief while others without a will to live have starved to death within days.

The answer to the question is basic and simple and ironically complex at the same time. The answer actually depends on the person’s body, state of mind, willpower, body weight when beginning the process, rate of hydration (or dehydration) and climate. To answer this question we will look at some of the various aspects that contribute to the rate of starvation.

Most doctors and nutritionist state that the average person can live about 4 to 6 weeks without food, but a week is a miracle without water. There have been numerous activists who have placed themselves into a starvation trance in order to prove a political or religious point. Of the twelve most infamous starvation oriented protests, two people lost their tongues, one lost their feet, seven ended up on dialysis at least for a short period of time, and two died. Their fasts lasted for between 4 and 6 weeks.

Political starvation is more common outside the United States, but it has been known to occur, sometimes with success and sometimes with drastic failure. Ten political prisoners in Ireland fasted in entirety, with only sips of water, to revolt against the British presence in their country back in 1981. These ten individuals died after sustaining their fasts between 46 and 73 days. Victims of war and torturous containment conditions have successfully fasted between 28 and 40 days.

It has to be taken into account that hundreds of thousands of Jewish hostages basically starved through the holocaust. While they were consuming food, the amount of food they were consuming was entirely too minimal to sustain life, particularly under the conditions which they lived. It can be difficult to tell why some starved to death and others survived. There was little to no documentation in the concentration camps to determine their daily caloric intake, but many eye witness accounts narrowed their caloric intake to between 300 and 600 calories per day.

Terminally ill patients who refuse food and hydration to end their lives while still in a conscious state may live anywhere between 10 to 3 weeks, depending on their initial hydration levels and if they use sips of water or ice chips to alleviate discomfort. Patients who are removed from artificial forms of nourishment typically pass away between 10 and 14 days. Patients who have been overly-hydrated may die after the 2 week mark, but it is rare.

An individual with ample body fat can last longer without food. Those who fit into the obese category are able to last anywhere between 4 to 25 weeks, sometimes longer due to the metabolisms ability to supply energy to the body by using up the fat storage supply.

This is true for people with lower metabolisms by nature, as well. The metabolism is responsible for converting food into energy, and a slower metabolism converts food into energy at a slower rate than a faster metabolism. The metabolism begins to slow as the body runs out of energy, and it attempts to “conserve the fuel” much in the same way that we can slow down a car to make the fuel last a bit longer. While a faster metabolism will have farther to go in the process of slowing down, a slower metabolism will grind to a near halt faster.

Climate can affect the speed at which a person starves to death. High amounts of heat create faster dehydration while cold temperatures require the body to use more energy to stay warm. Between 68 and 79 degree Fahrenheit the body is most comfortable and may eek out an extra one to three days over other temperatures. Extreme temperatures, however, will often do in the human body long before starvation has a chance to set in.

Throughout history, people of various cultures and religious views have fasted for purity. Fasting for purity used to last days or weeks, the fasting individual hoping to find the voice of God during the fast. Present day religiously motivated fasts now only last throughout the day and end at sundown. This is very common in most religions outside of Christianity. Long term fasts are not considered an acceptable form of cleansing and searching for purity any longer due to the health implications. Children are not required nor expected to fast, just as the elderly or ill are excused from fasting. In fact, fasting while you are ill or allowing your child to fast all day is considered sinful. Only those in good and stable health are required to fast. A fast can be broken without consequence should an individual feel ill. This is important, as many people unfamiliar with the various religious fasts do not realize that the fasting is done only through careful monitoring for health. Anyone choosing to fast for long periods of time requires a doctor’s care and is required to stop the fast should there by any signs of ill effects.

Anorexics, people who have an actual emotionally based disease that prevents them from being able to consume foods in normal quantities, have actually trained their metabolism over a long period of time to go without food. A person who eats regular meals and responds to hunger is likely to lose several pounds of water weight in the first three days of self starvation. However, a recovered anorexic who suddenly fasts is more likely to lose almost no weight in the beginning. Their metabolism is already damaged and will slow to a crawl at the first recognized sign of starvation. Thus, they are likely to live longer without food than someone who has maintained healthy eating habits throughout their life. This is assuming that they did no permanent physical damage while in the throes of an anorexic grip.

Once again, this is not healthy. Anorexia is a serious and sometimes deadly disease. People with no prior history of an eating disorder can develop anorexia from experimenting with self starvation. There is no exact understanding as to why some people are more prone to develop it than others. While there is some connection between over expectation and anorexia, it is not necessarily a cause, nor is lack of expectation necessarily an antidote.

An equally unhealthy attribute to the absence of food has been under tight scrutiny for several years now. Often referred to as a cult or something of the like, the group known as Breatharian, whose members and leaders claim to live on nutrients from the sun light and minimal amounts of liquid. Charging anywhere between $20,000 and $100,000 to teach their followers how to live on the nourishment which the air itself provides and nothing more, there are those Breatharians who are currently awaiting trial for unlawful killings in relation to teaching people how they do not need food. Inspections of their homes reveal well stocked refrigerators and pantries, but naturally the claims are simply that the food belongs to other people in the household.

The Breatharian claim they have reached an altered state of consciousness and have retrained their bodies to respond to the nutrients they can derive from fresh air. They seem to feel no remorse or guilt over the people who have died trying to follow their ways, or at least their alleged ways. In fact, they claim that they warn people that this type of lifestyle is only for spiritual warriors, yet in the next breath they state that Breatharianism is the solution to world hunger of only they were permitted to reprogram those who were literally starving to death. Wouldn’t this mean they would all have to be spiritual warriors in order to not starve to death? How can it be the solution to world hunger if those who are willing to try it are dying? Yet for $100,000 we could all learn to live off the air, or at least die trying to master the secret. Either way, the money is non-refundable.

Disclaimer - Answers to the questions are researched using various sources and are meant to increase the knowledge of our visitors. We cannot gurantee the accuracy of answers to questions.

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