A 25-year-old American woman claims that she no longer requires solid food to stay alive and gets most of her energy from breathing exercises, smoothies, and tea.
Audra Bear, from Minneapolis, claims that her lifelong interest in health, healing, and well-being has led her to the untested and frankly bizarre practices of ‘breatharianism’ and ‘prana’.
Right, there’s a lot to unpack here. Where to start?
‘Prana’ is – supposedly – a type of energy. When we breathe in, Audra believes, we inhale not only oxygen but also prana. Through this, ‘breatharians’ claim to get their nutrition from simply breathing in the air rather than eating solid food like the rest of us.
It’s a spicy hot take, let’s see how it plays out down the stretch.
Audra reckons that her 40 minutes per day of breathing exercises leave her able to subsist on only tea, smoothies, and juices to live.
However, an actual nutritional scientist has warned that this lifestyle is potentially ‘harmful’ and added that there is “no scientific evidence breathing offers essential nutrients.”
It’s a tough call, who are you gonna believe?
Before converting fully to the pranic and breatharian life eight months ago, Audra had been living the raw vegan lifestyle for some time. Before that, she was just your regular common or garden vegan.
She thinks that fasting and breathing ‘to receive energy and nourishment’ has actually improved her health. Her longest fast was for 97 days in total and during that time she only consumed puréed fruit and vegetables.
She also does breathing exercises for lengthy periods throughout her day.
It’s not all fasting and gulping down oxygen, however. She will eat a proper meal if she’s out with her family and friends. But she claims that she feels better than ever since adopting her new life.
Again, let’s just wait to see how this pans out.
She explained: “Prana is another word for energy, also known as Qi or Chi. It is a life-giving force that flows in, through and around all things, it’s in the air we breathe, the sunshine, nature, connections with people and all living things.
“It is a powerful energy that actually has the ability to fuel and sustain us as humans.
“Living a pranic lifestyle is about shifting your focus from nourishing your body with denser sources (food) to less denser sources (energy), all the while keeping in mind that food is not bad, you can enjoy food if you want to.”
She continued: “It started by practicing breathwork. There is something magical about conscious, controlled breathing that brings you with a face to face meeting with yourself, it brings you back to the core of your being.
“Breathwork helps you to realise who you are and what you need or don’t need. I never intended to ‘quit food’ I just started practicing for 40 minutes a day and after about five days I no longer had such a hunger for dense foods. My first fast lasted 97 days.
“This is not about restriction or living in lack. Living in this way is very big step away from a traditional life but the lifestyle also brings about so much abundance, health and happiness. That is where my focus will always be.”
As you’d expect, she’s lost a lot of weight through this method. It’d be a worry if she hadn’t.
However, nutrition scientist Helena Gibson-Moore warned: “A diet that only includes fruit juices and teas is likely to be low in energy so although initial weight loss may occur, in the long term you will be missing out on important nutrients for good health.’
“By only consuming one food group such as fruit and vegetables, in a specific way such as juicing, without balancing it with other food groups, is not healthy and can be harmful if sustained over time.”
“Whilst the evidence for such diets in terms of disease prevention is lacking, there is a wealth of evidence that varied and balanced dietary patterns including fruit and veg, wholegrains, good sources of protein like oily fish, pulses and nuts, some dairy or dairy alternatives, some unsaturated fats and lower intakes of fatty processed meats, refined grain, salt, saturated fat and sugary foods and drinks is associated with better health outcomes.”