Can people survive without money

How long can a person survive without eating?

Normally, one would like to see concrete scientific questions answered with concrete experiments - in this case, however, not. Unfortunately, however, one can look back on the fate of many involuntary or ultimately determined people whose starvation has been precisely documented. One of the longest cases dragged on for 73 days: the imprisoned Mayor of Cork, Terence Joseph McSweney, died in 1920 in a London prison on a hunger strike with which he had protested the murder of his predecessor. That made McSweney's fellow prisoners into survival record holders: At that time, they continued the hunger strike that McSweney had started together until they gave up after 94 days - alive. They were replaced by Bhagat Singh in October 1929 when the Indian socialist broke off a hunger strike on the 116th day in British custody. The duration of his hunger period is not entirely uncontroversial, because the British authorities had apparently made various attempts to force-feed the prisoner or to secretly supply him with nutrients, for example through milk in the drinking water.

Officially, this sets a standard of at least three months that other famous cases cannot reach: Mahatma Gandhi, for example, fasted for 21 days on a hunger strike; a couple involuntarily crashed in an inhospitable region for about 42 days. Officially documented is the death of other hunger strikers in various prisons, who died after 28 to 40 days. Long after the Irish freedom fighter McSweney, ten political prisoners died of starvation in 1981 after 46 to 73 days on their hunger strike.

Further observations suggest that people survive three months without eating - however, these mostly come from poorly controlled circumstances such as concentration camps or famine and are therefore not very reliable. What is clear, however, is that you always have to drink enough and take vitamins and minerals from time to time. Because without water, everyone dries out within a few days until the cycle collapses and one dies. How long this takes exactly depends on the general condition. After all, we know a few case studies: If relatives decide that a patient with severe brain damage should no longer be artificially kept alive, it often takes about 10 to 14 days after the devices are switched off until they die. It takes just as long when patients in the terminal stages of an incurable disease voluntarily forego food and drink.

How long you can last with water but without food depends on a few other factors. On the one hand, of course, from the starting weight before starvation, i.e. your own fat and muscle mass reserves. Various evidence suggests how much this weight can be allowed to shed before inevitable death: For example, end-stage cancer patients lose around 35 to 40 percent of their body mass before they finally die. However, one also knows patients who are very overweight who lose significantly more body mass on a strict diet - fat reserves obviously serve as a hunger buffer. When severely anorexic people approach death, their body mass index (BMI) drops to around 12 to 12.5, almost half of the average normal value, which is between a good 18 and just under 25. The cause of death is then organ failure or heart attacks in around 20 percent of those affected. Incidentally, the risk of a heart attack also ensured that doctors today urgently advise against the zero-diets that were popular decades ago, even if they are completely healthy.

The individual characteristics of the metabolism, which can be more or less used to a longer phase with low calorie intake, also play an almost as important role as the starting weight before starvation. For example, people are better able to cope with a total lack of food if their energy metabolism - such as the thyroid function - can flexibly adjust to the lack of food. A pronounced hunger metabolism usually has disadvantages for people who are well fed, say nutrition experts: Diabetes or anorexia could be more common among those affected. In the special case of a famine, however, such people may have survived more often in human history - which may be the reason why certain diabetes gene variants have not long since died out.