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382 Days Without Food - the Real Story of a Man Who Desperately Wanted to Lose Weight

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  • 382 Days Without Food - the Real Story of a Man Who Desperately Wanted to Lose Weight

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    Angus Barbieri before and after 382 days-long fast


    Angus Barbieri fasted for 382 days. The record he achieved is listed in the Guinness book of records. Let's find out what prompted the man to take such a risky step and how he was able to live without food for so long.

    Angus's weight loss story began when he was placed in the Maryfield Hospital in Dundee, Scotland. The event took place in 1965. In European clinics, the following practice already existed: for patients who drastically changed their diet, doctors established observation. Barbieri's weight was 456 pounds (207 kg).

    The 27-year-old guy understood the consequences of obesity, so he decided to stay away from food. The medical staff of the clinic agreed to take part in the experiment.

    Barbieri did not plan on long-term food avoidance. However, subsequent events made adjustments.

    After 40 days of fasting, the young man realized that he could change his body and health, and continued, contrary to medical recommendations, to lose weight. Angus didn't feel uncomfortable. The man's health was improving.

    To prevent the patient from experiencing a shortage of vital substances and trace elements, doctors have included special vitamin supplements in their diet. An important caveat: during fasting, Angus took vitamin C regularly.

    On day 92, there were changes in the diet: potassium tablets were added to the vitamins. Until day 345, the experimenter did not use salt. It entered the diet only in the last days of fasting.


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    Angus's drinking regime was no secret. The patient consumed tea, coffee, and sparkling water. How did the body react? The digestive tract and digestive organs functioned properly. The patient visited the toilet every 37-48 days. The time period varied, but the excretory organs worked normally.

    The first thing that experts noticed during the experiment: a sharp decrease in the level of glucose in the blood of Angus. This is a dangerous process, because glycemia causes a sluggish state, negatively affects the vitality. However, Angus led an active lifestyle, performing everyday tasks.

    The only thing was that he was very upset that he had to give up his job at the fish-and-chips shop. The last one belonged to the experimenter's father. Being among foods and fasting — that's the real test! It was too much for the stubborn Scot.

    The experimenter did not receive any additional help from doctors and psychologists during fasting. Medical specialists only observed the state of health of an amazing patient.

    At the final stage of the experiment, Angus was at home but regularly visited the hospital on his own. The young body has successfully adapted to the annual fasting.

    Experts were particularly interested in the blood sugar levels of the experimenter. They began to decline from the first week, after 120 days they reached the lowest level and remained at it until the end of fasting.

    Barbieri took tests on an empty stomach. His blood glucose level dropped to 30 mg per 100 ml. It was a sensation because with this indicator it is impossible to move independently, to be conscious - the doctors thought so!

    Doctors also noticed another process: the release of phosphoric acid by the body. To put it simply: the body of an amazing patient was being released from it at a record pace. This process started after 100 days of fasting. At the same time, Angus's weight and soft tissue volume decreased, and his body continued to function fully.

    July 11, 1966, was the last day of food refusal. The Scot's body weight reached 180 pounds (82 kg). Angus's eating habits have changed dramatically. For a full Barbieri's breakfast, after a long fast, one boiled egg, a slice of bread, and a cup of coffee were enough.

    The experimenter confessed to others that such simple products began to give him great pleasure because he forgot the taste of food when he was struggling with excess weight.


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    The world was shocked by the record. The Scot has become the hero of the day and a role model! He fit into one leg of his old trousers and happily pose for photographers. Details about his fasting, the inhabitants of the planet learned from the report of the doctor who observed the experiment in 1973.

    There is still no explanation for many of the facts surrounding Barbieri's record. For example, sugar levels returned to normal very quickly after fasting (after only 5 days). This was also, though not recorded in the Guinness book, a record!

    After the experiment, doctors and scientists continued to observe the development of events. After the end of fasting, there was no sharp increase in the experimenter's weight. For 5 years, Angus has gained 2 pounds (1 kg). What was the fate of the record holder in the future? After losing weight, he lived in England for 24 years, became the father of two sons.






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    Ketones and low blood sugar

    During the first four months of fasting, the blood sugar level of Angus Barbieri slowly decreased and after the fourth month of fasting, it remained at a very low level. Today doctors consider the normal level of glucose in the blood of a healthy person on an empty stomach to be about 70-110 mg per 100 ml.

    The average blood glucose value recorded by doctors at Barbieri was much lower and was only 30 mg per 100 ml of blood taken on an empty stomach. Despite this, his body did not have any problems until the end of the fast. The young man was always conscious and could move freely.

    How do we know that when fasting, the human brain relies on ketones instead of glucose? Thanks to the work of George Cahill in the 60s and 70s.


    The concentration of glucose in the blood should be in a narrow range-about 4 to 7 mmol/l. Concentrations below 4 are already considered dangerous, and this is called hypoglycemia. Symptoms may include heart palpitations, sweating, inappropriate behavior, and tremors. Below 2 mmol/l of blood glucose, a coma usually occurs.


    But Cahill decided to show that this only happens when a person is not in ketosis.

    In one of his studies, people fasted to bring their blood ketone levels to 5-6 mmol/l, and then they were injected with insulin (!) to lower their glucose levels to 1 mmol/l (!!) and make sure that there were no symptoms of hypoglycemia or coma.

    Over the past 8 months, a blood glucose level of Angus Barbieri was stable at around 1.7 mmol / L. He had no symptoms of hypoglycemia and was alert and active. They only indicated that ketones were (of course) present.






    Who else experimented with long-term fasting?


    Denis Goodwin

    Modern medical ethics forbids experiments with long-term fasting because of the high risk of death. Science is extremely cautious about any methods of refusing to eat because of the large number of victims of various questionable ways to fight excess weight.

    In the 70s of the last century, a resident of Great Britain, Denis Goodwin, tried to break Angus' record and get into the Guinness Book.

    He reported that he had been fasting for 385 days, but could not produce documentary evidence of his continuous refusal of food. Experiments on fasting after the success of Angus began to attract the attention of all who seek to lose weight. To prevent harm to the health of people, Guinness refused to recognize such records in the future.




    David Blaine

    However, this fact did not stop the wave of experiments! American illusionist David Blaine decided to prove that he can break new records. For 44 days, he was kept in a glass box without food or water. Blaine was accused of deception.


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    Chen Jianmin

    A similar experiment was later conducted in China. Chen Jianmin fasted for 49 days in a glass box. In this way, he tested the theory of Chinese doctors that fasting is good for the body. The Chinese experimenter did not pass medical tests and was not listed in the Guinness Book.





    Linda Hazzard

    Complete refusal to eat, according to scientists, can cause irreparable harm to the body. Uncontrolled changes in the diet are especially dangerous. Even a strict diet requires constant monitoring of the patient's condition.

    To prevent an imbalance in the body, a strict diet should include various vitamins, biologically active substances, and mineral supplements at this time.

    It is important to understand that uncontrolled fasting can lead to death. The story of American fraudster Linda Hazzard is a clear confirmation of this. At the beginning of the last century, she founded a sanatorium in Washington state for those who want to lose weight.

    The basis of the diet of people who were "treated" in it, were tomato and asparagus juices. Patients consumed minimal amounts of fluids. Hazzard sometimes included a teaspoon of orange juice in each patient's diet.

    This diet led to the death of several dozen Americans. However, the sanatorium continued to thrive and bring its owner income. Not the least role in this was played by advertising, because "lost weight, healed" people sang the praises of Linda.


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    She managed to publish 2 books about the benefits of fasting, where she claimed that only such methods will save health. Hazzard supporters still believe today: following its recommendations removes toxins from the body, heals all diseases.

    Only 4 years after the first book was published, the judicial authorities managed to bring the fraudster to justice for the manslaughter of the patient.

    The exact number of victims of Linda is not known to this day. She was released on parole, again began to preach questionable methods, and died in 1938, as she decided to try to get rid of chronic diseases by long-term fasting.






    Long-term fasting is very dangerous

    Graduate students at the University of Dundee School of Medicine analyzed the causes of death in 5 patients who fought obesity by fasting. People suffered from various diseases, refusal to eat caused a deficiency of potassium in the body.

    Taking vitamin supplements could not fix the situation. 4 patients lived from 3 to 8 weeks. This method worsened metabolic processes and could not save people. A patient who lived 210 days without food died after repeated feeding.


    This was one of the confirmations of a simple truth: when fasting, the slightest violation of the usual ratio of substances in the body is extremely dangerous.


    There are some studies that show that restricting food and not eating at all can help in the fight against cancer and obesity. In animals, fasting can slow down the aging process. However, the benefits of completely avoiding food for people are still questionable.

    After about 5-7 weeks of severe malnutrition (and in people without fat reserves and those with chronic diseases, even earlier), heart disorders occur, which are noted on electrocardiograms.

    Low-calorie diets can lead to the same result. Rapid burning of fat mass is no less dangerous than its accumulation!

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