Adequate nutrition plays an important part in wilderness survival. Maintaining proper nutrition while in a wilderness survival situation may be very difficult to achieve and many do not achieve even the minimum nutritional needs.
Survivors expend much more energy in survival situations than they normally would in their normal every day life. Basal metabolism is the amount of energy expended by the body when it is in a resting state. The rate of basal metabolism will vary slightly with regard to sex, age, weight, height, and race of a person.
The basic energy expended, or number of calories consumed by the hour will change as a person's activity level changes. A person who is simply sitting in a warm shelter may consume anywhere from 20-100 calories an hour, while the same person moving through thick undergrowth with gear, would expend a greater amount of energy.
Although you can live several weeks without food, you need an adequate amount to stay healthy. Without food your mental and physical capabilities will deteriorate rapidly and you will become weak.
Food provides energy and replenishes the substances that your body burns. Food provides vitamins, minerals, salts, and other elements essential to good health. Possibly more important, it helps morale.
The three basic sources of food are plants, animals (including fish), and survival rations. In varying degrees, both provide the calories, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins needed for normal daily body functions. You should use rations, if available, to augment plant and animal foods, which will extend and help maintain a balanced diet.
Calories are a measure of heat and potential energy. The average person needs 2,000 calories per day to function at a minimum level. As much as 6000 calories a day are needed when in extreme survival conditions, like the cold. An adequate amount of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins without an adequate caloric intake will lead to starvation and cannibalism of the body's own tissue for energy.
Fats- are more complex than carbohydrates. The energy contained in fats are released slower than energy in carbohydrates. This results in longer lasting energy. Sources of fats are butter, cheese, oils, nuts, egg yolks and animal fats. If you eat fats before sleeping, you will stay warmer.
Carbohydrates- are composed of very simple molecules which are easily digested. Carbs lose little of their energy to the process of digestion and are therefore efficient energy suppliers. Examples of carbs are starches, sugars, and cellulose which are found in fruits, vegetables, candy, milk, cereals, and legumes.
Proteins- are broken down into various amino acids during the digestive process. The amino acids are formed into new body tissue protein, such as muscle. Protein can be found in meat, fish, poultry and blood.
Animals For Food:
Unless you have the chance to take large game, concentrate your efforts on the smaller animals. They are more abundant and easier to prepare. You need not know all the animal species that are suitable as food; relatively few are poisonous, and they make a smaller list to remember.
However, it is important to learn the habits and behavioral patterns of classes of animals. For example, animals that are excellent choices for trapping, those that inhabit a particular range and occupy a den or nest, those that have somewhat fixed feeding areas, and those that have trails leading from one area to another.
Larger, herding animals, such as elk or moose, roam vast areas and are somewhat more difficult to trap. Also, you must understand the food choices of a particular species to select the proper bait. You can, with relatively few exceptions, eat anything that crawls, swims, walks, or flies. You must first overcome your natural aversion to a particular food source.
Historically, people in starvation situations have resorted to eating everything imaginable for nourishment. A person who ignores an otherwise healthy food source due to a personal bias, or because he feels it is unappetizing, is risking his own survival.
Although it may prove difficult at first, you must eat what is available to maintain your health. Some classes of animals and insects may be eaten raw if necessary, but you should, if possible, thoroughly cook all food sources whenever possible to avoid illness.
Plant foods- provide carbohydrates—the main source of energy. Many plants provide enough protein to keep the body at normal efficiency. Although plants may not provide a balanced diet, they will sustain you even in the arctic, where meat's heat-producing qualities are normally essential.
Many plant foods such as nuts and seeds will give you enough protein and oils for normal efficiency. Roots, green vegetables, and plant foods containing natural sugar will provide calories and carbohydrates that give the body natural energy.
In any situation where food intake is low, drink 6 to 8 liters of water per day. In an extreme climate,especially an arid one, the average person can lose 2.5 to 3.5 liters of water per hour. In this type of climate, you should drink 8 to 12 ounces of water every 30 minutes. It is better to regulate water loss through work or rest cycles because overhydration can occur if water intake exceed 1 1/2 quarts per hour.
Overhydration can cause low serum sodium levels resulting in cerebral and pulmonary edema, which can lead to death.
Always drink water when eating. Water is used and consumed as a part of the digestion process. In a survival situation, proper food can make the difference between success and failure.
Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!
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