How Many Days Can A Person Go Without Food Or Water?

Food and water are essential for human life. Without them, you can do serious damage to your body (via Insider). That being said, you can go without food or water for a short period of time before it starts to shut down. While the exact duration varies from person to person, a 2009 study published by researchers from the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Germany suggests it's possible to survive without food for up to two months. 

However, it is more difficult to survive without water. A study dating back to 1944 was conducted by two scientists who avoided drinking water while continuing to eat a nutritious dry diet. Ultimately, they were forced to stop the experiment after approximately four days due to the negative side effects.

Although the body can break down tissue to use as energy and fuel when it goes without food, the same process doesn't exist for water and hydration. This is why it's only possible to survive for a few days without it.

How starvation and dehydration affect the body

The effects of starvation and dehydration can affect your body in different ways. Because the human body requires water to function properly, going without it for too long can result in dehydration (via Medical News Today). This is especially dangerous in warmer climates because the body needs water in order to sweat to lower its overall temperature. Without water, you may experience a sudden and severe drop in blood pressure. This can result in a sudden loss of consciousness or death. Severe dehydration can also cause your kidneys to fail, which can lead to widespread organ failure.

Starvation, on the other hand, is a much slower process. Instead of shutting down right away, your body will start breaking down glucose and glycogen for energy (via Healthline). Once those are depleted, your body will enter the metabolic state of ketosis, which burns stored fat. This process can cause significant weight loss and may last longer for those with a higher fat composition. Some of the most common side effects of starvation include heart attack, organ failure, hypotension, and slowing heart rate.