A 25-year-old Instagram influencer from Minnesota left many scratching their heads after she claimed that she gave up solid foods in favor of simply breathing to gain energy, and that she fasts for up to 97 days at a time to achieve optimum health.
The practice of breathing to gain energy, known as “breatharianism,” allegedly grew popular in the U.S. in the 80s, but its health and nutrition implications are not well understood.
Audra Bear told her 11,500 Instagram followers that she was previously vegan and raw vegan for four years before she discovered “breatharianism” eight months ago. She went on to claim that practicing breathwork for 40 minutes each day, for five days, rid of her cravings and hunger for dense foods. She said she sustained on teas, juices, and smoothies for 97 days, which doesn’t sit well with some health experts.
“This is a dangerous practice and perhaps stems from a fundamental lack of understanding of how the body works,” Joy Stephenson-Laws, founder of Proactive Health Labs (pH) and co-author of “Minerals - The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy,” told Fox News.
“There are six basic nutrients we need to live healthily. We need water, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. We get these nutrients from the foods we eat or drink and we need them in the right balance. Depriving our bodies of these six categories of essential nutrients will cause us to be physically and mentally imbalanced and ultimately die.”
Bear claims that by mastering her breathwork techniques, she feels she no longer needs food to survive, and only eats solids on occasion. She said she’s lost 15 pounds and has more energy than ever before. But Stephenson-Laws said that, typically, liquid diets are prescribed to patients for a limited time following surgery or a procedure and that it “may be difficult to get all the essential nutrients that the body needs from a full liquid diet.”
Stephenson-Laws also stressed the importance of working with a “competent health care professional to ensure the right balance of nutrients even during a short period,” rather than following Bear’s posts. She stressed that by depriving your body of certain nutrients, you could end up with a deficiency that may result in serious health implications such as nerve and muscle damage.
“To the extent [of] pulling energy from the air includes pulling oxygen from the air, you can not sustain a healthy lifestyle by simply mastering the skill of pulling energy from the air,” she said. “Yes, oxygen is important for life, and air contains oxygen which every cell in your body needs to live and function. The cells use oxygen to help metabolize (burn) the nutrients released from the food you eat and for energy. So in order to do its job effectively, oxygen needs to utilize the nutrients we release from the food we eat. Without food, we will have declining energy and health.”