5 Basic Needs to Survive and Thrive

5 Basic Needs to Survive and Thrive
A fisherman paddling through the ree

In extreme conditions, a human can survive three minutes without air, three hours without shelter, three days without water, and three weeks without food.

Your body has certain physiological needs that are required for survival. While there are other factors that contribute to health and wellness, at its core, your body needs five key elements.

Our bodies are incredible machines that are capable of much more than we give them credit for. But just like any machine, there is maintenance involved in keeping it performing at its best.

The five basic requirements to fuel one’s body are:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Sleep

However, it is paramount to consider not only the presence of these five factors, but their quality as well. If you want your body to survive and thrive, it is crucial that you are fueling your body with healthy foods, adequate sleep, plenty of water, as well as clean air and proper shelter.

Woman eating soup in nature

Santevia is going to dive into each of these criteria for survival and outline how you can best supply your body with the necessary fuel to keep it performing at its best. While each of these factors is necessary, there are also ways that you can fuel your body in a way that allows you to thrive.


While the air in Earth’s atmosphere is composed of mostly nitrogen gas, the element that is paramount to human survival is oxygen. Oxygen is one of the most essential human needs. Our bodies need a consistent supply of it to function properly.

Without access to oxygen, you can experience a condition known as cerebral hypoxia, which affects the brain. As little as five minutes without air can result in brain damage. Oxygen deprivation lasting up to fifteen minutes can lead to brain damage so severe that most people will not recover. Oxygen is one of the body's greatest needs.


Other than air, water is the essential element of life. Our bodies are made up of 70% water, and as we go about our day we deplete our body's supply. That is exactly why it is crucial to stay hydrated.

In a typical day, your body loses water from natural processes like sweating, urinating, breathing, defecating, and other bodily functions. Usually, this water will be restored through the foods and drinks that one consumes over the course of the day. However, if this replenishment is disrupted, then it will inevitably result in dehydration.

The dehydration process begins when the body is unable to maintain hydration balance. A 2.5% loss in water volume in a person can lead to a 25% reduction in blood volume. In extreme cases, this means the blood will get thicker, and the heart has to work harder to pump nutrients throughout the body.

A lower blood volume also reduces flow to the extremities of the body, leading to numbness in the fingers and toes. At this point, the blood is too thick to make its way through the small capillaries in the brain: this makes it impossible to concentrate or focus for any period of time. Of course, this scenario may only occur in extreme circumstances. At this level of dehydration, one would need to seek medical treatment immediately.

The repercussions of even mild dehydration, however, can be serious nonetheless. The tell-tale signs of mild dehydration include dry mouth, thirst, dark urine and headaches. This level of dehydration can hinder your brain’s ability to function at full speed, and result in what some might call “brain fog”. Brain fog can manifest itself in different ways, like afternoon fatigue, headaches, issues focusing, and even depression and anger.

People forget to drink water throughout the day for many reasons, however, it is important to pinpoint these reasons and reflect on how you can make appropriate changes. If you’re too busy, setting reminders on your phone can simplify the process. If you are constantly working on the go, you could carry a water bottle with you throughout the day to ensure you have access to water. If you don’t like the taste of your water, try a Santevia alkaline water filter for great, fresh-tasting water.

Regardless of the reason, it is important to find solutions to ensure that not only is your body surviving, but that it can thrive at its best. At Santevia Water Systems we understand that staying hydrated can be difficult. That's why we took it upon ourselves to develop a line of products to help you stay healthy, hydrated and alkaline.

The MINA Alkaline Pitcher is the perfect hydration solution for daily use at home. Products like the Power Stick and Recovery Stick offer fast filtration and hydration for busy lifestyles. Our Tritan Water Bottle is a great choice to pair with a Power or Recovery Stick and is slim enough that it can fit effortlessly into most bags.


Surprisingly, the body can survive quite a while without food. This is mostly attributable to the manner in which your body adjusts metabolism and energy consumption.

It is difficult to predict exactly how long a body can survive without this kind of sustenance, however, most estimates range from thirty to forty days. While this number seems inconceivable (and likely, unenjoyable!) to most, it is possible.

In fact, many social and religious groups engage in short-terms fasts frequently, such as hunger strikes for social causes and fasting for religious reasons. Your body will continue to function normally for up to eight hours without food. In normal scenarios, the human body converts food into glucose, which then fuels the body.

However, after eight hours in most human bodies, the glucose stores are depleted. And thus, the body turns to your liver and muscles for glycogen. For about a three-day period, your body can utilize amino acids for energy. After this point, however, it will begin to make serious changes to its metabolism in order to preserve lean body tissue for survival. Again, this process will only occur in extreme cases of starvation that last for several consecutive days.

For most North Americans, problems pertaining to food involve quality of the food that they are eating rather than quantity. According to government statistics, the majority of Americans are not consuming enough fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats, yet they overconsume grain products, sugars, sodium, and saturated fat.

Unfortunately, the reality is that nutritious, fresh foods are considered a luxury to many in North America. The added financial and time burden of consuming fruits and vegetables outweigh their benefits to many.

However, this has resulted in significant health consequences for many. Besides rising rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, many North Americans are experiencing vitamin deficiencies that they may not even be aware of. A large portion of North Americans are deficient in calcium, potassium, magnesium, and several other essential vitamins. These micronutrient deficiencies can have drastic impacts on both short-term and long-term health.

The good news is that many of these deficiencies can be mitigated and prevented through the consumption of a well-balanced diet. Consuming adequate portions of fresh fruits and vegetables can fuel your body with essential vitamins and minerals.

Similarly, consuming mineralized alkaline water can both hydrate your body and provide it with necessary supplements. While it is important to consult a physician before making any drastic changes to your diet, for most people, an improvement in the quality of food and water they consume can make a positive difference in their lives.

Foods, like water, have a value on the pH scale. Thus, the food that one consumes can be considered acidic or alkaline. Choosing mostly alkaline rather than acidic foods helps keep our body in a balanced, optimal state. While this added detail may seem daunting at first, it is actually quite easy to consume primarily alkaline foods.

Most foods that are perceived as “unhealthy” are in fact acidic on the scale. Too much acidity in the body can lead to sickness and increase the likelihood of chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

On the other hand, fresh fruits and vegetables like broccoli and kale are alkaline foods. Proteins like meat, poultry, and fish are considered acidic on the scale. This does not mean that one needs to eliminate them entirely, however, one should be conscientious of the balance of alkaline to acidic foods if you want to help your body buffer acidity and achieve optimal health.


A shelter and appropriate clothing are a means of protecting your body and keeping it at a consistent temperature. The biggest concern with being exposed to the elements is water loss. Cold temperatures and wind can strip away valuable moisture just as quickly as high temperatures can cause sweat-related loss.

When the human body is unable to maintain a constant temperature, it runs the risk of hypothermia or heat stroke. In the case of hypothermia, the body loses the ability to control internal temperatures. With heat stroke, the central nervous system starts to break down, and the brain overheats and dies.


Sleep deprivation has long been underestimated as a necessity for survival. Yet, a severe lack of sleep can be detrimental to your health and to your life. Problems can range from decreased body temperature to cognitive impairment and hallucination.

Although the mechanisms of sleep are not well understood, the side effects of a lack of sleep are. Headaches can begin as soon as 24 hours after missing sleep. 72 hours in, memory is impaired, and reality becomes distorted. At this point, driving becomes very dangerous. After 96 hours without sleep, cognition is markedly impaired. After six days without sleep, hallucinations begin, you are unable to concentrate or perform tasks. This lack of clear thinking can be life-threatening.

While most North Americans do not experience extreme sleep deprivation on a regular basis, many are not getting adequate sleep every night. The amount of sleep required varies from person to person, it is important to test out how much sleep is optimal for your body.

The amount of sleep one requires can depend on age and activity level, and will likely vary throughout a person’s life. For many, it can be useful to go to sleep early and wake up earlier, while others prefer to sleep in.

Sometimes more sleep isn’t necessarily a good thing. In fact, too much sleep can lead to its own set of problems, and in some circumstances, point to some pre-existing problems. Some factors that could lead to hypersomnia are obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression, and heart disease.

If you are having more trouble than usual getting out of bed in the morning, it could be an indication to speak to your doctor about making necessary changes.

It is also worth considering factors that can impact the quality of your sleep. Factors such as pillows, mattress, the humidity of your room, and the amount of light that filters through your windows can influence whether your body is resting properly throughout the night. Test out different options to assess which is best for you and your lifestyle.

How to Thrive?

If you’re like us at Santevia, you don’t want to just survive. We aim to survive and thrive. We strive to live every moment to the fullest and be in excellent health.

This body is the only one you get, and the importance of air, food, water, shelter and sleep cannot be overstated. Remember, it’s not just about survival; to thrive, be open to improve and change any of these factors in your environment.

Moreover, our family's health is important to us too. Encouraging others to make healthier eating choices can prove difficult - especially if those family members aren't kids anymore! Providing easy access to clean, healthy, mineralized and alkaline water in your house can encourage those closest to you to stay hydrated and live healthy lifestyles.

At Santevia Water Systems we have a range of high-quality at-home alkaline filtration systems. We lead the market in alkaline water filtration products - browse our product line and see if these could be a good fit for you or someone in your family.