An Instagram influencer from Minnesota has left many scratching their heads after claiming she gave up solid foods in favour of simply breathing to gain energy.
Audra Bear, 25, also says she fasts for up to 97 days at a time to achieve optimum health.
The practice of breathing to gain energy, known as “breatharianism”, grew popular in the US in the ’80s, but its health and nutrition implications are not well understood, Fox News reported.
Ms Bear told her 11,500 Instagram followers she was previously vegan and raw vegan for four years before she discovered breatharianism eight months ago.
She went on to claim practising breathwork for 40 minutes each day, for five days, rid her of cravings and hunger for dense foods.
“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 practising for 40 minutes a day, and after about five days, I no longer had a hunger for dense foods,” Ms Bear said.
“My favourite way of receiving panic energy is through conscious breathing. Breathwork is the base of healing and detoxification for the physical and emotional body — 70 per cent of toxins in the body are released through respiration.”
Ms Bear said she sustained on teas, juices, and smoothies for 97 days, which doesn’t sit well with some health experts.
Joy Stephenson-Laws, founder of Proactive Health Labs (pH) in the US, said Ms Bear’s philosophy was a “dangerous practice and perhaps stems from a fundamental lack of understanding of how the body works”.
“There are six basic nutrients we need to live healthily. We need water, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates,” said Ms Stephenson-Laws, the co-author of Minerals — The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy.
“We get these nutrients from the foods we eat or drink and we need them in the right balance.”
She told Fox News depriving your body of these six categories of essential nutrients would cause physical and mental imbalances and ultimately death.
Ms Bear claims by mastering her breathwork techniques, she feels she no longer needs food to survive and only eats solids on occasion.
She says she’s lost 7kg and has more energy than ever.
But Ms Stephenson-Laws said, typically, liquid diets were prescribed to patients for a limited time following surgery or a procedure, and it “may be difficult to get all the essential nutrients that the body needs from a full liquid diet”.
Ms Stephenson-Laws also stressed the importance of working with a “competent healthcare professional to ensure the right balance of nutrients even during a short period” — rather than following Ms Bear’s posts.
She stressed depriving your body of certain nutrients could lead to a deficiency and serious health implications, such as nerve and muscle damage.
“To the extent pulling energy from the air includes pulling oxygen from the air, you cannot sustain a healthy lifestyle by simply mastering the skill of pulling energy from the air,” Ms Stephenson-Laws 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 metabolise (burn) the nutrients released from the food you eat and for energy.
“So, in order to do its job effectively, oxygen needs to use the nutrients we release from the food we eat.”
She explained without food, we would have less energy and declining health.