An Instagram "influencer" has been slammed by doctors after promoting "breatharianism" to her 13,000 followers.
Breatharianism, in the traditional meaning, is a belief that it's possible for humans to survive without eating food. Breatharians claim that food, and sometimes even water, is not necessary for humans to live, and instead people can keep themselves alive with breathing and sunlight.
It's a safe bet to say that the only people who have tried it for a sustained period of time are either lying or dead. There have been a number of cases where people have died in an attempt to follow the diet, including one Scottish woman who wrote in her diary during her last few days that she believed refusing to eat or drink would "spiritually cleanse" her body and "recharge her both physically and mentally". Of course, even if it did actually work, maybe Scotland isn't the best place to try an all-sunlight diet.
The diet crops up every now and then with new proponents. Famously, one such practitioner, Hira Ratan Manek, was filmed for a documentary titled Eat the Sun only to be caught on camera eating a big meal in a San Francisco restaurant before attempting to look nonchalant.
Instagrammer Audra Bear joined the list of proponents, saying she started the diet eight months ago.
So how does she survive? She too eats food.
"You can eat if you choose to, for entertainment or social settings, know your energy is sourced from the life-force all around you," she told UniLad. "Most days I just drink teas, fruit juices, green juices and fresh coconut waters. I do eat occasionally now, but more for celebratory reasons."
In order to survive and be in reasonable health, we'd hazard a guess she is celebrating quite a lot. Maybe she celebrates the meals of breakfast, lunch, and tea, even if she doesn't go all out and celebrate brunch and/or elevenses.
Bear, from Minneapolis, says she gets most of her energy from doing breathing exercises and being out in nature, Indy100 reports, and claims she fasts for up to 97 days at a time.
Even though she is getting energy in liquid form, and supplementary celebratory solid food, experts have been quick to say the diet is not good for health at all.
“This is a dangerous practice and perhaps stems from a fundamental lack of understanding of how the body works,” Joy Stephenson-Laws, founder of Proactive Health Labs (pH) and author, told Fox News.
“There are six basic nutrients we need to live healthily. We need water, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. We get these nutrients from the foods we eat or drink and we need them in the right balance. Depriving our bodies of these six categories of essential nutrients will cause us to be physically and mentally imbalanced and ultimately die.”
If you were to follow breatharianism in the strictest sense, death would be quicker.
“It depends on the climate, and how much exercise you’re taking, but if you’re lying in bed you would probably be just about all right for a week,” Dr Charles Clarke told The Guardian in 1999 following a spate of deaths.
“But towards the end of the first week, you’d become pretty gravely ill. Your blood would become thicker, your kidneys can’t cope; multiple organ failure follows, you get hypothermic and eventually you die.”
Basically, please eat food.