15 Things To Know About Breatharianism (The Belief You Can Live Without Food Or Water)

It's pretty much a given fact that we need food and water to survive. If you're lost somewhere in a harsh environment, finding food and a source of water are pretty much a necessity. The human body can go three weeks without food, but water is a different story. Generally speaking, the human body can't go more than three days without water, but there have been cases of people surviving for 8-10 days without water.

We all need food and liquids to survive, but some people will put themselves on starvation diets in an attempt to lose weight. And then, others will abstain from eating food and drinking liquids for fasting purposes. Ascetics separate themselves from the world and fast for long periods of time. Ascetics may survive from eating small amounts of food, but they never stop eating it entirely. However, there are some people who have claimed that they don't need nourishment from food and liquids but from other sources instead. These people are known as breatharians.

Breatharians practice a lifestyle in which they get nourishment from air and sunlight. Some abstain from just food while others abstain from food and liquids. Scientists and medical professionals think of breatharianism as a dangerous pseudoscience with lethal consequences. And after doing research on breatharianism, I don't think they're wrong.If you want to know more about this somewhat eccentric lifestyle, then check out this list of 15 things to know about breatharianism, the belief you can live without food or water.

15 Breatharianism Is Not Fasting

It's important to note that breatharianism is not considered fasting. Breatharianism and fasting are two different things. Weirdly enough, though, breatharianism is also referred to as "inedia," which is the Latin word for fasting. Fasting has an end point. People fast for days, weeks, months, maybe even longer. But breatharianism doesn't have an end point. It's not fasting and it's not dieting, though it has been used by some for weight loss. It's a complete lifestyle change that forces you to put away for food and liquids for...well... forever. At least that statement is partially true. Some breatharians will drink water. One breatharian in particular admitted to eating mouthfuls of food every once in a while. She said just to keep her energy levels up.

14 Breatharians Survive Off Prana

Breatharianism seems to have some roots in Hindu philosophy. Breatharians supposedly don't live off food or water. They live off prana instead. Prana is a Sanskrit word that means "life force" or "life energy." It's a comic energy that's present everywhere and is believed to be responsible for all bodily functions. Because prana is thought to aid with bodily functions, breatharians believe this is all they need to survive. They claim to get their intake of prana by taking in plenty of air and sunshine.

13 Breatharians Think Breatharianism Is The Cure For Hunger

11% of the world's population faces chronic undernourishment. About 805 million people go hungry every day. There have been numerous campaigns to end world hunger, such as Cure4Hunger, an organization that seeks to build Food and Water Domes all over the globe. Everyone can probably agree that finding the solution is a complex issue, but breatharians believe that the cure is a lot simpler than the rest of us would think. Since breatharians believe that we all need to survive is air and sunlight, they recommend that people in famine-stricken countries take up a breatharian diet. There would be no death, let alone diseases, due to lack of food so millions of lives could be saved as a result.

12 The Digestive System Is Believed To Be A Mistake

The digestive system is made up of the digestive tract, the liver, the pancreas, and the gallbladder. Furthermore, the digestive tract is made up of the mouth, the esophagus, the stomach, the small intestine, the large intestine, and the anus. After food passes through the mouth, it then moves through all the organs of the digestive tract until it ends up in the anus. Without digestion, our bodies wouldn't be able to break down the nutrients it gets from food, nutrients that the body requires for energy, cell repair, and more. However, breatharians believe the digestive system is completely wrong. Since all we supposedly need to live is air and sunlight, the organs that make up our digestive system are totally useless.

11 The Most Famous Breatharian Is Jasmuheen

Before you ask, Jasmuheen isn't her real name. She was born Ellen Greve in New South Wales, Australia in 1957. She is a major proponent of the breatharianism lifestyle, claiming to not have eaten since the year 1993. However, she later admitted that she does occasionally eat a mouthful of food, whatever she fancies at the moment. Moreover, visitors to her home who came over for interviews with her took note of the food in her kitchen. She denied allegations that she ate food on a regular basis, saying the food was for her husband. Jasmuheen travels all over the world, speaking at lectures on breatharianism and encouraging more people to take up the lifestyle. In addition to that, she oversees the Cosmic Internet Academy. She is widely regarded by the scientific community as a sham diet guru who makes outrageous psychic claims.

10 There Is A Six-Step Plan To Breatharianism

If one wishes to take up breatharianism, they're not supposed to abruptly cut off all consumption of food and liquids. The way is to slowly wean themselves off food and drink until they achieve a completely breatharianistic way of living. Jasmuheen laid out a six-step plan for new breatharians to follow. Step one is to cut out meat from the diet and become a vegetarian. Step two is to cut out dairy and eggs and become a vegan. Step three is to cut out processed and cooked food and only eat raw food. Step four is to only eat fruits. Step five is to only intake liquids. And finally, step six is to only take in prana. Once a new breatharian has reached step six, he or she has completed the process and has become an official breatharian.

9 Nikola Tesla Supported Breatharianism

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, engineer, and physicist who is best known for his contributions to the fields of engineering and physics, namely towards the conceptions of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. A lesser-known fact is that he was a supporter for breatharianism. In 1901, he wrote an article for Collier's Weekly titled "Talking With the Planets," in which he said, "Why should a living being not be able to obtain all the energy it needs for the performance of its life functions from the environment, instead of through consumption of food, and transforming, by a complicated process, the energy of chemical combinations into life-sustaining energy?" To Tesla, it was still a question of whether or not chemical processes, such as metabolism, were necessary for the survival of living beings.

8 Michelle Pfeiffer Used To Follow The Breatharianism Lifestyle

There are quite a few cults out there. Breatharianism is no different. And actress Michelle Pfeiffer used to be a part of it. During her younger years, the Academy Award-winning actress was involved with a particular Breatharianism cult, though not willingly. She talked about her experiences in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine. Pfeiffer got caught up with a couple who were breatharians themselves and they forced her to stick to a strict and demanding diet. She didn't live with the couple but she did visit their house a lot. However, they told her that she needed to come more and they constantly expected payments. The actress was "rescued" by her now ex-husband, Peter Moon, who was working on a film about Moonies or followers of the Unification Church started by Sun Myung Moon. She soon realized she got caught up in another cult as well.

7 There Are Breatharian Gurus

Just like in any kind of lifestyle, you can find gurus to learn from. One of them is a man by the name of Hira Ratan Manek, a 79-year-old Indian who's also a former mechanical engineer and businessman. He runs the Solar Healing Center in Winter Park, Florida. Manek claims to have been living off nothing but energy from the sun and boiled water since 1995. Not only will one be free from hunger, but he and his followers believe that living off sun energy can cure mental and physical illnesses and improve one's memory. Another Breatharianism guru is Tapaswi Palden Dorje (pictured above), born circa April 9, 1990, in Nepal. Dorje declares to have stopped eating and drinking after he was bitten by a poisonous snake. His followers believe that the snake gave Dorje enlightenment, claiming to see a light emanating from his head.

6 Some American Teenage Girls Practice Breatharianism In Some Sort Of Way

You may be surprised to know that some people adhere to breatharianism without even knowing they're doing it. These people are teenage girls living in America. 10% of the female American population engage in breatharianism in some form. It happens during puberty when the body is experiencing major developments that affect the emotions and hormones. These changes can affect their eating habits, causing them to eat less to avoid obesity. The early teenage years can be difficult for many girls because their bodies are undergoing various changes they might not understand at first, and during this time, they become worried about what their peers might think of them based on how much they eat. So they'll abstain from eating a lot of food in an attempt to keep their weight down.

5 60 Minutes Stopped A Fasting Demonstration Due To Health Concerns

In order to prove the naysayers wrong on what many believe to be a bogus "diet," Jasmuheen decided to stage a fasting demonstration on the Australian version of 60 Minutes to show everyone what the breatharianism lifestyle was all about. 48 hours into the demonstration, Jasmuheen's blood pressure rose and she started showing signs of dehydration. She blamed polluted air for the decline in her health so she moved to a different location further from the city. But she didn't get better. Instead, she got worse. Her pupils started dilating and she started losing weight. Doctors supervising the trial ordered for it to be stopped, worried that Jasmuheen would suffer kidney damage if the demonstration continued any longer. However, Jasmuheen has a different belief on why doctors stopped the test prematurely. She believes they stopped her because they feared the demonstration would be proven successful.

4 A Woman Broadcasted Her Breatharianism Experience Through Social Media

Lots of people do crazy stuff on social media, so this case is no different. In 2013, 65-year-old Naveena Shine from Seattle, Washington decided to try out breatharianism. But unlike other new breatharians, Shrine elected to broadcast her experiences on social media. For four to six months, Shrine would ingest nothing but tea and water. She left several cameras running around the house to show her activities 24/7 and provided updates on Facebook and Twitter. She intended to get nourishment from air, water, and light. More specifically, the "source already embedded within our body/mind/Spiritual systems." During the experiment, she lost 20 pounds and suffered from nausea and exhaustion. She terminated the venture after 47 days, due to strong negative response and financial issues.

3 Several People Have Died From Breatharianism

It probably goes without saying that people have died from taking up breatharianism. After all, any lifestyle that doesn't allow you to eat or drink can't have good long-term effects. At least four of Jasmuheen's devotees have died from practicing breatharianism. One of them was a 31-year-old kindergarten teacher named Timo Degen from Munich, Germany who read about breatharianism on the Internet and decided to try it out. After three weeks of fasting, he fell into a coma and had to be hospitalized. He later died. Another case was that of a 49-year-old woman named Verity Lynn from Loch Cam, Sutherland, Scotland. Like Degen, Lynn read up on breatharianism on the Internet and was eager to try it out. She went fasting on a camping trip. Her body was found two weeks later. Jasmuheen deflected the blame for her followers' deaths off herself, saying they didn't find the light that would have nourished them.

2 The Best Proof For Breatharianism Supposedly Lies In Prahlad Jani

Prahlad Jani, also known as "Mataji," is an 87-year-old Indian sadhu. A sadhu is a religious ascetic in Hinduism who has rejected worldly life. Jani has claimed he has not eaten anything since 1940, nearly 80 years ago. He claimed that when he was but a child, the goddess, Amba, told him that he didn't need to eat food. He says that Amba sustains him and gives him nourishment. Doctors studied this man for two weeks but found themselves astounded when they didn't see him eat or drink anything in the two-week period. And unlike Jasmuheen, Jani didn't undergo any physiological changes during this demonstration. The doctors didn't publish their findings in any medical journals, but even so, the veracity of these trials was disputed. Many believe the doctors were quacks, much like they believe Jani to be a fraud.

1 The Founder Of The Breatharian Institute Of America Goes To McDonald's

You would think that the creator of breatharianism would follow the lifestyle to a tee, but not in the case of Wiley Brooks, the founder of the Breatharian Institute of America. Brooks claims to be the reincarnation of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ and claims to be continuing a process that was started during his supposed past life as Jesus Christ. Like other Breatharians, Brooks lives off air and sunlight...and McDonald's. He eats double quarter-pounder with cheese meals and diet Coke as he believes these are the only foods that aren't radioactive. Brooks says every other food and every other liquid on this planet contains radioactive energy. That is, except for his "Elixir Of The Gods," a "special" water that will cost you $10,000 a bottle. If you think that's steep, immortality workshops cost a whopping $1,000,000.

Sources: fascinatingplanet, huffingtonpost, abcnews, vice

More in Tech & Science