Do you know that the average rate of extinction of animal species is 1 to 5 species every single year? What’s more, this rate of extinction is projected to double by the end of the century if nothing is done.

Even though we aren’t the same as the rest of the animal species, thanks to superior intelligence and all, the alarming rates at which life on earth’s dissipating does pose an interesting question: just what do we need to survive?

Getting down to bare basics, it’s relatively easy to determine the artificial and natural resources essential for our survival. Thanks to extensive scientific research into this area, we have an extensive understanding of just how far the human body can go with and without various resources.

Without further ado, let’s delve into the collection of resources necessary to sustain our everyday lives.

What Do We Need to Survive?

In extreme conditions and difficult times, the human body can, on average last:

These values may go up or down, depending on the presence or absence of one resource. For example, someone living in a comfortable environment and has access to resource types like clean water and air, but no food can last a month or even more.

All of this gives us a clear insight into the crucial role that certain resource types play in ensuring our good health and longevity of life on earth. 

Even though a wide range of man-made and natural resources are necessary for sustenance, five things we simply cannot survive without are:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Food
  • Sleep 

To better understand the influence of these factors on our everyday lives, we’ll be analyzing each one of these variables subsequently.

Why Is Air Important to Our Survival?

The human body can’t sustain itself without air. As such, air is arguably the most important of all human needs.

However, more accurately, air isn’t what our body needs precisely. This is because air is composed of various elements like hydrogen, neon, and even greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide.

The part of air that’s most important to our continued existence is oxygen and it constitutes about 21% of air. The human body demands a constant supply of oxygen for it to function properly.

In the absence of oxygen, the brain enters a state known as cerebral hypoxia. Caused as a result of oxygen deprivation, if it isn’t reversed in as quickly as 5 minutes, blood pressure increases, and brain damage may occur.

If this condition lasts more than 15 minutes, the damage to the brain may become so severe that it’s irreversible and death ensues in most cases.

Why Is Water Important to Our Survival? 

Water is one of the many natural resources indispensable to the health and well-being of the human body. 70% of our body is made up of this nonrenewable resource. And, as we go by our everyday lives, we deplete the reserves of it we hold in our bodies. For this reason, we must replenish the water in our body and stay hydrated.

We can lose water through processes like breathing, sweating, and urinating, to mention a few. This lost water is recovered through the food and drinks that we consume.

When the dehydration process is halted and hydration balance can’t be maintained, the body responds almost immediately. This is because less water in our system results in a commensurate reduction in blood cells volume.

And, as the blood gets thicker, it starts to affect the heart rate and blood pressure. With the heart rate reduced, blood cells won’t be able to get to the lower extremities and the fingers and toes start to go numb from here.

The longer the dehydration process goes on, the more pronounced certain symptoms like thirst, dark urine, and headaches become. In the absence of this non-renewable resource, brain function becomes impaired as well and conditions like brain fog occur.

Brain fog presents itself in different ways and can compel people to feel weak, develop problems concentrating or experience bouts of anger and depression.

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Why Is Food Important to Our Survival? 

Considering how strongly the body craves starchy foods, sugary foods, and other edibles, the body can survive for long periods of time without this resource.

This is because the body can internally regulate metabolism and energy consumption from varied diet intakes.

Although the human body can last up to 40 days without this renewable resource, that doesn’t mean that the experience will be pleasant.

The body is able to function optimally without the intake of food like white bread or brown breads for up to 8 hours at a stretch. However, after this time frame, blood sugar level becomes depleted as glucose stores are used up.

For the next three days, your body will be able to convert its reserve of amino acids into needed energy. But, beyond this point, if food is still not provided, the human body will start making major changes to preserve its lean tissue.

How soon you get to this point is largely dependent on the type of diet you’re on. People with a balanced diet that contain low-GI foods with adequate cholesterol levels will have reserves that give their body more to work with.

However, if you have a varied diet that comprises starchy foods like white bread, brown breads, and other sugary foods, the effects of food deprivation may take its toll faster and more visibly.

Ultimately, even if you don’t maintain a balanced diet and are more partial to sugary foods, you can stave off the effects of starvation by taking in calories.

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Why Is Shelter Important to Our Survival? 

People who are well-fed and hydrated can die within only a few hours if they don’t have shelter in certain conditions.

Shelter is a necessary resource for protecting your body from the elements and ensuring that you maintain a constant body temperature. To that end, appropriate clothing and housing are important items on the list of what we need to survive.

The reason shelter is so important is that its presence or absence affects how rapidly the human body loses water. Unlike many members of the animal species, our bodies aren’t equipped to take on the elements directly.

As such, when exposed to extreme cold and windy conditions we quickly lose moisture. The same holds for the human body in hot-temperature areas.

We respond in several ways when unable to maintain a constant body temperature, depending on the cause of the imbalance. If the body can’t build up enough heat to ward off the cold, then hypothermia results. On the other hand, if the body can dissipate heat fast enough, heatstroke takes place.

In the former, the body becomes unable to control internal temperatures properly. In the latter, the central nervous system begins to collapse. The brain overheats and if not tended to, dies.

That being said, the body does have a complex and efficient temperature regulatory system. So, most times, all you need to do is make sure that you don’t expose it to intense stressors and it should be fine.

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Why Is Sleep Important to Our Survival? 

When we ask ourselves, what do we need to survive, sleep is one thing that not many people give much thought to. Yet, in terms of ensuring psychological wellbeing and survival, it is almost as important as air.

Severe and constant lack of sleep can lead to a host of health problems that negatively impact our everyday lives.

While the exact science behind the phenomenon of sleep is yet to be fully understood, the side effects of sleep deprivation are well-documented.

Lack of sleep for only 24 hours can result in splitting headaches. When this is extended to 72 hours, memory impairment begins to occur and individuals may start to enter a state of distorted reality.

Beyond this, cognitive functions become impaired, hallucinations enter the mix and there’s a marked inability to concentrate and perform even elementary tasks.

The minimum amount of sleep that a person needs to maintain optimal mind and body functionality will often vary throughout life, influenced by factors such as age and level of activity.

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Why Is Self-Defense Important to Our Survival? 

For all our evolution and advancement, the world can seem like a dog-eat-dog place sometimes. As such, even if you’re able to get all the previously-discussed needs, if you don’t add an element of self-defense to that mix, your survival isn’t assured.

So, it always helps to pick up self-defense skills and hone your instincts.

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Answering the question, what do we need to survive can be a very complex affair. However, the fact that conscious thought is put into this effort helps us not just survive, but also thrive.

Do you want to learn how to be prepared in the face of any eventuality? Join our community, meet like-minded people and pick up life-saving skills here!

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