This article is part of our Stupid Diet Series, therefore we do not recommend this diet.
The Breatharian diet is an ancient, mystical diet espoused by the learned mystics of… I can’t. I just can’t. You don’t eat anything, and you live on sunlight. Breatharianism is actually a spiritual movement, though. They claim that it is possible, given extreme spiritual purity, to live solely on water, sunlight and life force, or Prana.
Despite a lot of controversy and a few rather unfortunately public deaths due to eating absolutely nothing, Breatharianism continues to enjoy room-temperature popularity among some eccentric celebrities and new-agers.
Simply put, you don’t eat anything. Despite many advances in the understanding of photosynthesis since the Renaissance, Breatharians continue to maintain that the human body itself can get all of the nutrition it needs from the sun, water, fresh air and the Prana or life force that runs through each and every single living thing.
While fasting does have weight loss benefits, eating nothing for an extended period of time generally leads to the entirely expected side effect of death. Herbal teas and water are consumed, but no solids are meant to be eaten whatsoever. Depending on who you talk to, breaking the fast at specific times can be necessary, but more in order to maintain spiritual balance than to stop you from dying of malnutrition.
What’s In It
Nothing. Nada. Zip. Bupkiss.
Who’s On It
Breatharianism has never been taken entirely seriously by any large cross section of the population, but a few celebrities have been taken in. However, Wiley Brookes, the movement’s founder, and a woman by the name of Jasmuheen (born Ellen Greve) helped to make Breatharianism at least remotely popular in the United States and Australia.
Jasmuheen claimed to be able to survive without any more than the occasional cup of tea for months on end. She told this to 60 Minutes, and they agreed to put her up in a hotel room to see if she could survive without noticeable ill health effects for a week. She failed the test on the first day, after a doctor said she was becoming dangerously dehydrated.
She claimed that she failed because the hotel room was next to a busy road, preventing her absorption of nutrients from the Prana. She was awarded the Bent Spoon award by the organization called Australian Skeptics in 2000 for being the “perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudoscientific piffle.”
Breathariasm founder Wiley Brookes himself claimed to occasionally break the fast with a McDonalds burger and a Diet Coke, claiming that the junk food represented a necessary counterbalance to the extreme purity of his ‘diet’.
Few people who claim to maintain a purely Breatharian diet have ever consented to be examined by a medical practitioner, and those who have were either found to show extreme signs of malnutrition – or no sign of it, but plenty of signs of cheating.
Three of Jasmuheen’s followers in Sydney died shortly after the 60 Minutes incident, and Wiley Brookes has been known to charge as much as one billion dollars for something called an ‘Immortality Workshop’ which allows one to live forever without food.
Why You Might Want to Avoid It
If you’re still reading this article, and looking for a reason why you shouldn’t try eating absolutely nothing as a method of weight loss, there is nothing more I can do for you.
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