Food, water, and oxygen are all a part of the survival triangle. While shelter, warmth, clothing, cars, etc. make your life comfortable, the basics for sustaining your body and mind in a survival situation are limited to the necessities of food, water, and air.
In this article we are going to dive in deeper to each corner of this triangle. We will discuss the importance of drinking water, the types of food your body really needs, and how oxygen does more than just help you breathe.
The Triangle of Life
The triangle of life depicts every human's three most basic needs. Although your list may be lengthy, your body requires only three items for its survival nutrition: water, food, and oxygen.
~Water is more than just a drink to quench your thirst. Water is required by almost every system in the body. It makes up about 60-70% of the human body. Water helps the liver and kidneys flush impurities and maintain proper body temperature.
~The body cannot function without water. You can live for weeks without food, but you can only last approximately 3 days without water. Your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and restroom usage. You should restore your water levels by continuously drinking water throughout the day to maintain a healthy, hydrated body.
~The best way to consume water is on a regular basis via drinking it. For severely dehydrated people medical professionals can administer intravenous fluids that go directly into the bloodstream. Electrolyte drinks like watermelon water, for example, can assist in replenishing the body's water supply. When drinking enhanced drinks, you want to be careful of the ones with a lot of added sugar or artificial sugars. Some popular portable options for electrolyte water additives are Mio drops and Liquid IV powders.
~The quantity of water one should drink in a day will vary based on gender, weight, age, and activity. However, on a general note, women should drink around 11 cups of water daily, while males should drink at least 15 cups.
~The body requires certain nutrients, which are provided by food. Energy, cell growth, and repairs are all aided by these nutrients. Poor diets often contribute to health problems. Fats, carbs, protein, and vitamins are the four essential components of food that provide crucial survival nutrition.
~Fats provide energy and aid in the absorption of vitamins. Healthy fats are necessary for growth and development and can actually help lower cholesterol levels.
~When the right carbohydrates are eaten, they are then broken down into energy. Fiber is a carbohydrate that aids digestion, controls blood sugar levels, and keeps hunger at bay.
~Protein aids in the repair of injured organs, tissues, and bones in the body. Every cell in the human body contains protein. Proteins are broken down into amino acids in the digestive tract. The body needs 20 amino acids to function correctly, especially the 9 essential amino acids. Our bodies naturally produce 12 amino acids, you must obtain the remaining eight and increase your levels of all of them by consuming nutritious foods.
~Vitamins and minerals are needed for functions like fighting infections, healing wounds, regulating hormones and so much more. The human body needs 13 essential vitamins to work effectively.
~We breathe oxygen. Life is impossible without breath, which means we can not exist without oxygen. Red blood cells transport the oxygen throughout the body. By burning sugar and fatty acids, oxygen also provides energy, like carbs. The same red blood cells that deliver oxygen, also push harmful carbon dioxide out of the body.
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The Importance of Water
Over half of the human body is made up of water. Water plays the 2nd most vital role in the proper functioning of the human body, behind the need of oxygen.
~How Much Water to Consume Daily
~The water you need is determined by various factors, including age, gender, health status, and physical activity. A moderately active adult male need approximately 3 liters of water per day, whereas the average adult female requires about 2.2 liters.
~Some of your water intake comes from food, but the majority comes from clean, filtered drinking water, with emphasis on pure and filtered water. Drinking contaminated or improperly enhanced water can lead to illness or an imbalance to the vitamins and minerals in your body.
~As a more general rule of measurement, the ounces of water you should drink in a day should be about half of your body weight. For a male that weights 180 lbs, they should drink about 90 ounces (2.6 liters), then adding more if they are active. To help meet these expectations, keeping a a BPA-free canteen handy throughout the day will ensure you always have water near by. In a survival scenario to help ensure you remain at a proper hydration level Liquid I.V. helps aid in the absorption of water into your bloodstream.
~Survival Water Supply Tactics
~Clean drinking water may not be available during a water-related emergency or natural disaster. Creating and storing a water supply that will meet your family's basic nutritional needs in a crisis is a great step for any prepper.
~~Stocked Water (bottles, gallons, etc.) - Bottled Water
~~Unopened commercially packaged Water is the safest and most reliable water supply in any emergency. If you don't have access to bottled water, you can make your tap water safe to drink by following the directions to boil it, then collecting and storing the now purified water in clean resealable containers.
~~Rainwater is a natural resource that is safe to drink. Depending on how fresh and how the rain water was collected will determine how much filtration and purification is needed. If you're ever unsure, you can always boil it like you would your tap water. Many airborne contaminants (such as dirt, debris, or bird droppings) can be found in rainwater. So, while rainwater can be potable, we recommend you filter and decontaminate, especially before drinking it.
~~Finding 'Wild' Water
~~Alternatively, you can find “wild” water from moving water bodies like brooks, rivers, and streams. The purity of these sources is generally doubtful and should undergo some kind of purification before consumption. Keeping a Life Straw in your preps would be the quickest and easiest way to be able to drink out of these sources.
~Purifying and Desalinating Contaminated Water
~Let’s look at how you can purify contaminated or saltwater before consumption.
~~Filtering water removes disease-causing organisms, which will prevent illnesses, especially during a survival scenario. No one wants to be throwing up while trying to survive after a natural disaster.
~~Most filters remove basic pollutants like chlorine, lead, copper, mercury, pesticides, and other organic compounds that may affect the taste and smell of water. But most importantly, these filters will remove the bacteria and chemicals that can lead to intestinal illnesses.
~~In the previous section we talk about removing chemicals for your potable water. However, adding the right amount of certain chemicals can actually help purify your water. A few drops or capfuls of chemicals like iodine, chlorine, and bleach can purify your water when boiling or filtration are not options.
~~Boiling water is the oldest and most tried and true water purification method. It can be done over a fire, on a grill, or on the stove. Depending on if you are trying to simply purify or desalinate saltwater will determine how long it needs to stay at a boiling temperature.
~~If you are looking to simply purify freshwater then just get the water to a roiling boil and keep it there for just 1 minute. Let the water cool and then store it in sanitized airtight containers. If you are looking to desalinate water through boiling, it will take much longer, as you will need to boil the water in a way where you can catch the condensation. Boil the full pot of water, making sure to capture the condensation, until all that is left is a crusty white film, this will be the salt. Rest assured, there is an easier way to desalinate your water if you have on in your preps, via a solar still.
~~Desalinating Solar Still
~~Unlike trying to create your own condensation collector by using a pot of boiling water, a portable solar still will come with everything it needs. The downfall to any desalinating method requiring the capture of condensations is it takes time. Even the best solar still will only deliver approximately 1-8 cups of clean water per day, which is livable for a single person, but can be an uncomfortable amount. The benefit is the sun does all the work.
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The Power of Proper Food Intake
Basic nutritional requirements and correct food consumption strategies are among the few needs for long term survival. To avoid malnutrition and eventually hunger, make sure all these necessary food categories are covered in your preparedness supplies.
~The 3 Necessary Food Groups
~The three necessary food groups are Carbs, Proteins, and Fats. Any human can survive on these 3 food groups for as long as their supplies last without becoming malnourished or otherwise ill.
~Your body transforms carbohydrates into glucose and uses it to fuel numerous physiological activities when digested. Simple carbs or natural sugars can be found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Complex carbs, such as whole grains, starchy vegetables, and legumes are generally high in fiber. Fiber promotes digestion and aids in the reduction of harmful cholesterol.
~~Grocery carbs can come in cans, jars, grains, starch, and other carb loaded foods. Canned soups, for example, are a common source of carbohydrates in a survival situation. Be careful of the levels of sodium in your canned goods. Other examples include ‘tin meals’ that are ready to consume like chili, chef-boy-r-dee, and meats like chicken, tuna, spam, and Vienna sausages.
~~Raw beans and lentils, Sardines, no-sugar added fruits, vegetables, grains, sauces, pastes, and milk/dairy will also be pivotal to make an enjoyable and nutritious meal during a SHTF scenario. Also worth considering are long-lasting and shelf stable bars that are packed with nutrients like RX bars.
~~Carbs to Grow in Your Survival Garden
~~Dense starchy vegetable and some tropical fruits offer the most carb heavy items to grow in a garden. Winter squash, corn, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, peas, bananas, pineapples, avocados, and mangos are all great survival garden plants to bulk up on healthy carbs. Then add tasty and nutritious plants like green beans, lettuces, herbs, and carrots to help supplement your garden and meals. Remember to consider how often they sprout, how long they take to grow, and your preservation methods to ensure nothing gets wasted.
~Most people think of meat, poultry, and fish when they hear "protein." But, meat is not the only form of protein. Protein can also be found in dairy, eggs, beans, nuts, and more.
~~The modern grocery store makes getting food convenient. You can find all forms of protein in the aisles at your local store. Weather looking for meats, dairy, uts, seeds, plant protein, rice, beans, and more you can find them fresh, canned, or boxed. When making your purchases think about how long you look to store them, if they last better when in a can, jar or box, and what types of dishes you plan to use them for.
~~You will also want to consider at what part of your prepper journey you are in. For example, dry/raw beans are not generally recommended for beginner preppers. Why? Preparing and cooking them can take upwards of 12-18 hours depending on the type of bean and the meal you are looking to make. So, beginners are often better off stocking up on canned beans unless you have a reliable off-grid cooking method and plenty of fuel.
~~Easily Storable Grocery Proteins include:
- Beans – dried or canned
- Canned Peas and Chickpeas
- Canned Meat
- Peanut Butter
- Canned Cheese
- Powdered Eggs
- Powdered Milk
~~Proteins to Hunt/Harvest in the Wild
~~Fishing and hunting are two primary ways to obtain protein in the wild. For those who live near water, fishing may be the easiest form as almost anyone can fish with even the most basic of knowledge. For those that prefer hunting, or have no other options, make sure you know how to properly handle your hunting tool and that you are stealthy enough not to spook your target.
~~If you are lucky enough to live near nut producing plants, trees and bushes, harvesting nuts and seeds like acorns, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and pine nuts can be good protein supplements in a survival scenario.
~~Proteins To Raise/Grow on your Property
~~If you live in an area that promotes the right amount of space and environment to raise animals and livestock you can raise your own forms pf animal protein right on your land. The common sources of livestock include chickens, cows, pigs, goats, and in survival situations, rabbits, guinea pigs, tree squirrels, and even horses. Some of these animals can provide more than just their meat for survival; chickens produce eggs, and cows and goats milk can be used for drinking or to make cheeses.
~~Protein also comes in the form of plants. Most of the green vegetables you eat in a day are actually quite high in protein. Many of which you can grow right in your backyard like spinach, kale, peas, edamame, green beans, corn, broccoli and the more exotic ones like quinoa and sunflowers.
~~When land is available nut trees are a great source of protein and most a relatively easy to foster and grow. Hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, and macademia nuts are some common nuts to grow recreationally. Most nut trees take about 2-5 years to produce their first batch of nuts. However, once these trees begin to produce you can expect an annual harvest so be prepared to preserve and store any nuts you produce on your property. Pecans are also on the list, but these trees take much longer to bear nuts, between 5-10 years. Pecan trees are also considerably large, so you will need to live on several acres if you want to take on this nut.
~Saturated, Monounsaturated, and Polyunsaturated fats are the three primary types of fat you want to focus on. While, with trans-fat, you want to stay away from completely. This is the kind that will stick right to your hips. Dietary fat, scientifically known as lipids, is divided into these three primary types:
~~At room temperature, these fats are typically solid or waxy. Animal products and a few oils, such as coconut oil, are the most common sources of saturated fats. Since these types of fats are normally solid at room temperature some call them ‘solid fats’.
~~Saturated fats can affect your cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart disease. Limiting your intake of saturated fats will lower your risk of these heart diseases and help to get your body into a healthier state. Food that are high in saturated fats include animal meats, butter, cheese, ice cream, heavily oiled and fried foods.
~~Monounsaturated fats have a "heart-healthy" stigma since foods high in them (including olive oil) have been shown to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Monounsaturated refers to the fact that they only have one double bond. These fats are generally liquid at room temperature and will harden if put in the fridge.
~~The fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin E is abundant in many monounsaturated fat sources, which helps vision, and the health of your skin, brain, and blood. These fats are in most light oils, avocados, nuts, and seeds. Eating these foods will help keep your brain sharp in a survival situation.
~~Polyunsaturated fats are similar to monounsaturated fats in that they are typically liquid at room temperature and harden as they cool down. They are more unstable than other fats because they contain more than one double bond. Many food high in monounsaturated fats are also high in polyunsaturated fats.
~~Omega-3 and omega-6 fats are polyunsaturated fats that your body cannot generate naturally and are therefore you need to get from ingesting food or supplements that contain these fatty acids. Omega fatty acids are considered vital for brain function, cell growth, and other important functions.
- Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in cold-water fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
- Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.
~~There are very few foods that contain only one type of fat. When consuming any food you are likely consuming some amount of all 3 of the fats: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Be sure to focus on the mono and poly fats when choosing your survival meals. In a survival situation your brain must be sharp. Eating the right fats to make sure you are running at peak performance is important.
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Running on Oxygen
Every human's existence is dependent on oxygen. The human body has to breathe, it can not survive in an environment without oxygen. When the brain and lungs go without oxygen the brain will shut down, putting you to sleep, followed by your organs giving out until death takes over. Due to its importance, ensuring that oxygen is available in immeasurable quantities should be a significant consideration while gathering your preps and constructing your survival shelter.
~Consider Where You Place Your Survival Shelter
~It is critical to select the optimal location when constructing a survival shelter. If you expect to use any open flames or fire within your shelter, be sure you have adequate ventilation to push or suck the smoke out of the space. Carbon monoxide poisoning is the quiet killer that will kill you far faster than hypo or hyperthermia.
~If you plan on having a generator to help power some comfortability items position your tent in a way where the natural air currents will blow the generator burn off smoke and odors away from your tent while still allowing your basecamp to receive some of the natural wind.
~Avoiding Carbon Monoxide Buildup in the Home
~Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious threat to be considered at all times, even in your home on a regular basis. It is even more important if your home runs on gas or features a wood burning stove or fireplace. Open flames and gas leaks are the two major contributors to carbon monoxide poisoning. Don’t run any engines in a closed garage or shed.
~If your home features any gas powered or wood burning appliances, installing a carbon monoxide detector can be a life saver.