At least 60% of the adult body is made up of water, which is required to keep our bodies functioning. Without it, we would die within three to four days. But food is a different matter, and records show people surviving up to 73 days without food as long as their bodies are kept hydrated.
There are many reports of people undergoing total starvation – ten Northern Irish political prisoners died in prison in the 1981 hunger strike, after starving themselves for periods between 46 and 73 days. The variance is due to body size, health issues, and genetic variation, so an obese person starts off with more body fat which can sustain metabolism longer. Medical professionals experience patients suffering near-starvation in cases of anorexia-nervosa and end-stage cancer patients. Twenty percent of deaths in patients with anorexia are caused by organ failure or myocardial infarction, which happens because the BMI has literally halved.
Our bodies need food to stay healthy and maximise energy, so going for days without food can cause dangerous side effects and cause nutrient deficiencies. Starvation breaks down stored body fat and muscle tissue and can cause malnutrition, which can lead to physical and mental disabilities and other more serious medical problems.
Walkers, trekkers, and backpackers can sometimes get lost or stranded in unpleasant life-threatening surroundings, with prolonged periods of starvation and a lack of water. It is sensible to make sure you have all the necessary survival equipment which is available from places like outdoor bushcraft store www.angloforro.co.uk, making your outdoor activities safer and more comfortable.
When the body is deprived of food it lives on stored sugars. The primary fuel source, glycogen, is stored in the liver and muscles and is converted into glucose. When this source is depleted, fat takes over and is converted into an energy source called ketone bodies. When this runs out, you’re down to taking recycled protein from your muscle to convert into energy, which is a waste of important tissue reserves.
Records show that it is possible to survive up to two months, as long as there is a water supply to keep you hydrated. The body has the ability to moderate metabolism in order to conserve energy, which explains the variance of individual survival length.