When Mahatma Gandhi was 74, was on a hunger strike. Despite his age and physical condition that lasted 21 days without food during the strike. Gandhi is one of thousands of people who have gone on hunger strike to protest various civil rights. Some reports have reported people going 70 days without food. The amazing thing is not only what these people were able to achieve, but what your body did during this time to ensure they survive.
is best to look at different intervals of time and how the body normally reacts when a hunger strike was enacted.
6 hours after your last meal
After eating, the body will work to digest food and break down into glycogen – molecules whose primary function is to store energy. This process produces glucose -. The main source of energy, which quickly absorbed into the bloodstream
When your body is in a normal diet, glucose is used as the primary energy source. It makes you feel well fed, as the glucose enters the muscles and gallbladder. “Fuel” Glucose is sufficient for the next 6 hours. After 6 hours, when the body spends its fuel, a feeling of hunger is created and you feel tired. After 6 hours of glucose primary “tank” is empty; However, the body has some glucose in the “reserve” for such cases where they are not able to replenish the tank.
starvation mode: 3 days without food
Our glucose reserves can last 24 to 48 hours, although most as mentioned above, most of our glucose is exhausted after 6 hours. So not only you will feel hungry, but your body will fall into ketosis, which means a higher level of ketones in the body.
Ketone bodies are produced from fatty acids when glycogen in the gallbladder is completely wasted. The times ketosis can be useful because it uses body fat as energy, so ketogenic diet is commonly practiced by people who are trying to lose some weight. However, this is not the best source of energy for your body.
Your brain does not function optimally when fat as an energy source is used. This results in the body trying to use glucose reserves in the body. The brain uses glucose 120 grams a day -. So when glucose is spent, your body has to “think” of a backup plan for the brain
After the third day without food, your brain begins to use ketone bodies as an energy source – is It gets about 30% of energy from this source. On the fourth day, the brain will get up to 70% of energy from ketone bodies.
If you have not eaten for more than 72 hours
The hard part comes after 72 hours without food – this is known as autophagy state. When fat is broken, the body converts the protein found in muscle. This means that your body is starting to use your muscles as an energy source. At this point, the need of the brain for glucose decreases from 120 to 30 grams.
Now, the brain has to get energy from protein. Although the brain can survive in the protein, the muscles will slowly disappear. Your metabolism slows down and your body starts to use the least amount of energy.
At some point, the immune system is weakened due to lack of vitamins and minerals. Usually two types of diseases occur in the later stages of starvation :. Marasmus and kwashiorkor
The marasmus is characterized by muscle loss and edema. Kwashiorkor is the most common form of malnutrition in developing countries, and is characterized by fatigue, edema and muscle fat reduction.
is an amazing feat to achieve for such activist to protest what they believe. However, from the point of view of health it is not a wise decision. The body needs to be replenished with minerals and vitamins to prevent weakens.