A lot of wacky diets have come and gone since the world became obsessed with fat and fitness. But there’s one that takes the cake when it comes to weird diets, and it’s not even designed for weight loss, although that’s definitely one of the side effects – if you can survive that long.
We’re referring to Breatharianism, which is a diet that includes no food at all. Breatharians believe that humans can live off prana, which is the Sanskrit word for “life force.” The life force in the case of Breatharianism is pure air and sunlight.
While many religions embrace fasting as a part of the spiritual journey, these fasts have a set duration. By contrast, Breatharianism is a way of life, meaning that once you decide to become one, you eschew almost all food in all of its forms, for life. Or at least until you die, as at least four Breatharians have, or end up in the hospital with severe malnutrition and dehydration, as have scores more.
Becoming a Breatharian is a multi-step process that starts with becoming vegetarian, then vegan, then eating only raw foods. From there, the practitioner consumes only fruit, then only liquids, and finally turns away from food altogether and subsists entirely on light and air.
Science Doubts It
But the fact is, as scientists, medical professionals and most of the people you meet on the street understand, if you don’t eat food, your body will live on stored sugars. When the sugars run out, body fat is converted into a secondary energy source called ketone bodies. Once the fat is gone, the body begins using recycled protein as its energy source and basically begins to consume its own muscles for energy.
But most Breatharians say their bodies don’t consume these reserves when they’re fasting, because their body literally survives entirely on air and light as its energy source.
Fool Me Once
Most who claim to be Breatharians actually do eat food and drink water, albeit in very small doses. But scientists agree that Breatharians probably eat more food and drink more water than they claim, or they wouldn’t be around to make those claims.
Wiley Brooks is the founder of the Breatharian Institute of America, and in 1980, he appeared on TV’s “That’s Incredible!” to tout his lifestyle. Three years later, even as he continued to promote subsistence on air and light, he was caught leaving a 7-Eleven with a box of Twinkies, a hot dog and a Slurpee. Months later, he was caught eating a chicken pie in a hotel restaurant.
The queen of Breatharianism is one Ellen Greve of Australia, who changed her name to Jasmuheen when she became involved in the movement. Jasmuheen once underwent a supervised test to see how it was possible that she lived on just one weekly cup of tea and a biscuit, but just four days into the test, she became severely dehydrated. She insisted that it was because during the experiment, she was holed up in a motel next to a city street and was breathing “bad air.”
(via My Diet)