How Long Can a Human Survive Without Water and Food?


People do not need food as much as they do water. In fact, they can survive quite a long time without it depending on many factors. History has shown that people can go on for weeks without eating anything. Indian leader Gandhi once fasted for three weeks. According to medical experts people can survive without food for up to two months, as long as they have enough to drink. If you are strong and in good physical shape you are likely to survive longer, because the body stores fat, carbohydrates and other forms of energy. That is why fatter people can survive longer.

Surviving without food also depends on how fast a person burns food. Those who use up food energy faster will probably not survive as long as those who burn food more slowly. Climate  also plays an important role  in survival. Cold weather makes you use up more energy. A hot climate allows you to go on longer without replacing food.

Eating too little for a long time causes your body to react in some special ways. It may lead to physical weakness or confusion.  After many weeks without food your body organs can fail one after the other.

a man sweating

A man sweating - Dogbertio 14


Living without water is a very different story. We constantly lose water through sweat, urine, breathing and other activities. If it is very hot your body can dehydrate within a matter of hours. The water and minerals the body loses must be replaced so that our organs can work as they should.  Water helps us cool down in the heat; otherwise we would suffer from a heat stroke. Doctors also tell us to drink a lot when we are ill and have fever.

Dehydration can lead to many illnesses, from too little urine to a dry mouth, a fast heartbeat or even vomiting. Shock comes at the end of dehydration. The body becomes cool and blood pressure goes down rapidly.

Doctors recommend drinking one to three liters of water a day, depending on the climate and how much you sweat or exercise.  You should never go on without water for a day or more.



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  • according to = as said by …
  • activity = what we do
  • as long as = if
  • blood pressure = the force with which blood moves around in your body
  • carbohydrate = something that is in food like sugar , bread, potatoes  and gives your body heat and energy
  • cause = lead to
  • confusion = being mixed up
  • constantly = always
  • dehydrate = to lose too much water from your body
  • depend  = to be affected by something else
  • exercise = move your body, do sport
  • fail = to stop working
  • fast = not eat
  • go on = survive
  • heat stroke = when are body is in danger because it gets too hot
  • in fact = the truth is
  • lead = cause
  • likely = probably
  • matter = some, a few
  • otherwise = or else
  • physical shape = the condition your body is in
  • probably = ,most likely
  • rapidly = fast
  • recommend = suggest
  • replace = put back
  • store = save and use up later
  • survival = being able to live on
  • survive = live on after a dangerous situation
  • sweat = drops of salty liquid that come out of your skin  when you are hot or frightened or ill
  • vomit = to bring up food from your stomach through your mouth