Saturday, May 15, 2010

70-year fasting feat: Medical miracle or bullshit?

As a biologist-in-training, I have learned that the human body can perform some truly amazing feats. During the Fight-or-Flight Response, our epinephrine (adrenaline) levels can spike, which increases our reaction time, speed, strength, and even dulls sensations of pain. Exposure to a pathogen our body has never encountered before is not a problem the second time around, since our immune system is very efficient at recognition of and response to foreign agents. But this time I noticed an article that sent my Bullshit Detector into overdrive.

According to this article, an 82-year-old man in India named Prahlad Jani has gone 70 years without food or water.

Now, I do understand that meditation can affect metabolism. In the past I have seen documentaries of monks that can dry a wet towel on their back by meditating to increase their body temperature so the water visibly evaporates off like steam. But, come on.

The longest recorded hunger strike I could find lasted only 68 days, and that one ended with Barry Horne's partial blindness and kidney damage.

No matter how long the body can go without food, it will eventually run out of the materials it needs to run normally (glucose, vitamins, minerals, water, etc) and will begin to break itself down to get what it needs.  This directly conflicts with one of the most basic, fundamental principles of biology: the energy requirements to sustain life.

When Prahlad was observed for two weeks by Indian military doctors, nothing seemed out of place, but all that did was prove he can last two weeks without food. Scientists will all agree that it is possible for almost anyone to live for two weeks without food (you'll just be really REALLY hungry). The longest we can live without taking in any water is up to 10 days in optimal conditions.

The human body IS amazing; it can survive for many weeks without food and many days without water.
But it CANNOT survive for 70 straight years without the intake of any food or any water...
It is simply impossible.

No comments:

Post a Comment