How Long Can You Live Without Food (And Why)?

Exact Answer: For 2 to 3 months

Food is one of the necessities. People need food to live and to stay healthy and fit. People go for fasting and other forms of diets that usually need to be food deprived for a certain amount of time. 

Ancient saints and sages used to train their bodies by starving for days. The body can usually live for two to three months without food. There would be high discomfort after the completion of one month. However, this is the longest time an average person can live without eating a morsel. 

There have been instances of more extended fasting, but those aren’t normal and hence aren’t being considered. As long as the body gets water, it can survive without food for a long time. Water is necessary for hydrating and for supplying minerals. When food isn’t available, the body fats burn to release energy upon which the person survives. The production of glucose continues because of this storage. 

How Long Can You Live Without Food?

TypePeriod
Body survives without food (with water) 2-3 months
Body survives without food (without water)Up to 4 days
Highest fast recorded500 weeks

An ordinary and active individual can live without food for quite an extended time, which varies from two months to three months. However, if the individual has some trouble in their body, not consuming food will cause overhydration. 

Even continual fasts can increase eating disorders. There have been reports of acquiring bulimia as well as anorexia because of excessive dieting and fasting. 

When a person weighs up to sixty or seventy kilograms, they can survive without food for 2-3 months with signs of rapid weight loss. Starvation has other indications such as loss of muscles, void under the eyes, cheekbones bulge, fatigue, a state of vertigo that might also occur due to not eating. 

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There have been instances from the past where numerous people conducted fasts. Some fasts lasted for as long as 500 days. However, till the fast came to a verge, their physical situation had worsened to a huge extend. 

The body can certainly live without food for a much longer time than without water. It happens because the body fats are stored for future usage. When these fats are burnt inside the body, then comes the new (energy) to sustain. 

There is a hormone which is called glucagon. Once the body feels that it hasn’t gotten enough food, this hormone is released. The primary purpose of this is to allow the liver to generate necessary glucose. 

The body also cuts down its nutritional requirement during starvation. It happens when the fats that are present in the body are used up. 

Why Can You Live Without Food For So Long? 

There is a significant difference in the duration of survival without food and survival without water. If we are not getting any food, the body can live on water for an extended period. However, it doesn’t mean that food is unimportant. 

It’s just that the body has its storage of fats. When a person runs out of food, it is their body fats that help them. These fats are burned down at intervals, and this provides us with energy that helps in sustaining. These fats are derived from food products that have been eaten before.

A process takes place inside the body; in this, the fatty acids for specific chemical structures, which are called ketone bodies. These structures infuse into the blood of an individual. 

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When this blood reaches the human brain, its brain functions in a particular way, it regulates and reduces the amount of nutrition required by the person to survive.

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The importance of food has always been high. Although survival is possible without food, health won’t be maintained if no food is taken. Without nutrition, individuals grow weaker and eventually lose their ability to move and do regular daily work.

Conclusion

Food has always been one of the essential requirements for humans. It provides energy, nutrition and nourishes our body. Though the body can live without food for a considerable long period, its importance doesn’t diminish. 

An extended period of starvation causes many different health ailments as well as eating disorders. A person would lose their muscles and look lean and gaunt. There are several countries where people cannot get even two meals a day, their health conditions have worsened to a great extent.

Food is a gift; it is necessary and should be treated as important as it is. One should avoid wastage of food. Also, one should avoid long fasts as it affects the body significantly. Hydrating the body is necessary during fasts. If these rules are followed, a person stays fit and healthy.

References 

  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/sj.bdj.2013.523
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=BFd1qQTp_MUC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=How+Long+Can+You+Live+Without+Food&ots=u86LvdBGuK&sig=3fIDuKAfLHH6nrVABsOrBH4Ae0M