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Woman Tries to Survive on Sunlight and Water Alone for 6 Months

Woman Tries to Survive on Sunlight and Water Alone for 6 Months

Have you ever heard of Breatharianism? No? Now you have, and it’s probably going to kill someone.

Navenna Shine is the founder of Living on Light and she plans on surviving for the next 4 to 6 months on – you guessed it – sunlight.

I would get a little snarky with this if it weren’t so sad. I mean, this woman is trying to live for half a year without food! Her website has a page that asks, “Is food an addiction?” Besides the fact that this betrays a woefully inadequate understanding of photosynthesis and human biology, why would you want to live without food? But I can’t make fun because, if Shine goes through with this, she will die. And, because of the cameras she set up in her home, it will be broadcast live to the world.

Don’t believe me? Check out her YouTube channel. She’s been posting videos for a month and he already looks emaciated. I guess I can take solace in the fact that, as she wrote on Facebook, she’ll stop when she hits 120 pounds:

I am feeling a little drained today and am resting a lot. I have lost almost another two pounds and am concerned that I am going too low. I think I shall set 120 lbs as my lower limit and will stop if I start going below that. You see, I am not careless of my well-being!

Oof. I’m concerned that she thinks it’s possible she won’t hit under 120. This doesn’t really make it better, though. Humans – admittedly with a significant amount of variation between individuals – can survive between 30 to 40 days without food. The amount of fat stores and muscle mass make this number vary widely from person to person. Shine is already a month in. Luckily, she still seems to be drinking water, which seems to be a very important factor when depriving oneself of food. If Shine continues, she’s at risk of a heart attack or organ failure.

According to Shine’s website, she’s doing this to find out – once and for all! – whether human beings can live on sunlight. The problem, of course, is that we do know. We know pretty definitely that we can’t. This diet has killed before. There was a Swiss woman who starved to death on a similar diet last year. In 1999, an Australian-born woman living in Scotland was found dead after her Breatharian fast. And there is the 2.6 million children who die each year from undernutrition.

But, hey. We don’t know anything, right? Besides the deaths of people actually on this sunlight diet, we know that severe calorie restriction is just really, really bad news.

Take the HCG diet, for example. This diet is effective, at least in the short term, because it involves severe calorie restriction; people on this diet are only supposed to eat 500-800 calories a day. But that level of calorie restriction carry major risks. This diet can cause gallstone formation, irregular heartbeat and can really mess with your muscles and nerves.

Then there is the Prolinn diet, otherwise known as the Last Chance diet. This diet consists of nothing but a 400 calorie protein shake made of animal byproducts not fit for human consumption. This diet has been linked to abnormal heart rhythms, possibly due to shrinkage of the heart muscles and electrolyte imbalances. About 60 people have suddenly dropped dead while on this diet.

While Shine isn’t on a fad diet, per se, I see parallels. It preys on the ignorance of how the human body works and what it needs to survive. This ignorance allows unscrupulous people to basically make up anything they want and sell it to you as a healthy or good or spiritual lifestyle. And as we’ve seen over and over and over again, it kills people. I hope for Shine’s sake, she quits before it’s too late.


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Image credit: NASA/SDO/GSFC

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11:02AM PDT on Apr 6, 2014


7:04PM PDT on Jun 17, 2013

just plane stupid. I nominate her for a Darwin award! survival of the fittest once she is gone the Gene pool will be a little cleaner

12:02PM PDT on Jun 17, 2013

Better to be a vegan. All animals need nutrients. We aren't primary producers like plants.

6:17AM PDT on Jun 16, 2013

I'm sorry for her

12:39PM PDT on Jun 14, 2013

The danger isn't just a matter of loosing too much weight. By the time she gets to 120 lbs. she will have already done some damage to herself from a deficiency in various needed nutrients and micro-nutrients.

8:53AM PDT on Jun 14, 2013

She's a human being, not a blue-green alga, not a geranium, not an oak tree. She cannot photosynthesize nutrients.

11:17AM PDT on Jun 13, 2013

To quote Buckaroo Banzai, "There's no need to be mean."

10:52AM PDT on Jun 13, 2013

I thinking fasting is great with all the right info and preparations...but this is too extreme...surely "Don't try this at home!"

5:18AM PDT on Jun 13, 2013

I wish her well and hope she will be OK

5:46PM PDT on Jun 12, 2013

While we can shake our heads at what people are willing to do to their bodies and lives, there are gullible people who might think this is a good idea and copy them.

There are some people suffering anorexia nervosa giving others encouragement and tips on food avoidance on the net. This advice could tragically lead to the death of other sufferers, but it will never lead a healthy person down that track. Without the mental illness, the eating disorder will not develop.

However, neurosis is more common that people think - most people have a need to be perceived as “good” and righteous. A little is a good thing, but too much can lead to disaster, especially when it is exploited by an ideological philosophy or group.

Starving to prove how spiritual they are, how ethical, moral or righteous they are, creates a vicious cycle: the neurosis leads to a physical catastrophe which deprives the brain of nutrients, thus preventing it from recognising the damage (to one’s self and to those who love them), the emaciation, the insanity and the inevitable outcome of starvation.

The public viewing of this woman’s ‘experiment’ should not lead others down that path, but may encourage those already on it. There are only 2 outcomes for her: she abandons the fast or she dies: either option should be a good deterrent for anyone contemplating such madness. I’ll hope for the former.

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