Adventure Nomad

Adventure Nomad

Thursday, June 4, 2015

3 Basic Nutritional Supplements for Expeditions and Adventure Travel

The first rule of supplementation is - Real food first.  This means you should try to get your nutrition from fresh, natural, whole food.  Supplementation comes in to fill in potential nutrition gaps, which could happen if you are travelling and not quite sure of what food is available, or on expedition where fresh, whole food may not be available.

Yumm!  Liver Tablets, Probiotics and Fish Oil
I'll tell you what works for me, but I'm not a doctor, or nutrition expert, so please do your own research or seek medical advice before consuming any supplements.  Here are 3 basic, but key, nutritional supplements I take, whether at home or traveling to some adventure:

1.  Fish Oil
Fish Oil is a common term which refers to Omega-3 Fatty Acids, specifically EPA and DHA.

The body uses fish oil in many ways, including: Development and protection of the brain; cardiovascular protection (also 'thins' the blood by making it more 'slippery'); balances out Omega 3 and 6 ratios (our modern diet contains an unbalanced ratio of too much Omega 6); has anti-inflammatory properties; and helps protect against skin issues (psoriasis) and allergies.

The human body cannot make EPA or DHA, so you have to get it from your diet.  The best sources are cold water oily fish, like sardines, salmon and anchovies.  A rising problem with consuming these fish is that they may accumulate toxins like mercury dioxins and PCB.  If you are far from the sea, grass fed cattle is another source.

Fish oil in supplement form is usually molecularly distilled for purity, then recombined to ensure a consistently potent product.  To ensure I get my quota of Omega-3s when I travel, I take a single capsule of Now Foods Ultra Omega-3 daily, which provides me with 500mg of EPA and 250mg of DHA.

2. Probiotics
The human body is full of bacteria, both good and bad.  Probiotics are the 'good' or 'helpful' kind.

Researchers are still figuring out the many uses of probiotics.  They not only help the digestive system, but it is thought they also enhance immunity by shutting out bad bacteria. They also easy symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn's Disease, Eczema and other allergies.

Sources of probiotics include kefir, yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles.  Beneficial probiotics also exist in the soil which, with modern cleanliness, we no longer consume.

Because they are living foods, I supplement with 'shelf stable' probiotics that require no refrigeration and travel well.  I use Garden of Life Primal Defense which is a strong, broad spectrum probiotic supplement, which contains both colonizing and transient soil based probiotics which may be beneficial, but through modern cleanliness, we may no longer consume.

3. Desiccated Liver Tablets
Sometimes called "Nature's Multi-vitamin", the Desicatted Liver Tablets I take are made from pure, grass-fed beef liver that has been de-fatted, and then freeze dried.

Liver is a rich source of heme iron, which is a great blood builder.  Exactly what is needed on a trip to high altitude.  It is also a rich source of amino acids, minerals, B-vitamins and Cytochrome P-450.  It may also extend endurance as demonstrated in the following experiment:


Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1951 Jul;77(3):488-91
'Dr. B. H. Ershoff took three groups of rats and fed them controlled diets for a twelve week period. Group one ate a basic diet fortified with vitamins and minerals. Group two ate as much as they wanted of the same diet plus B vitamins and brewer's yeast. Group three ate the basic diet but had 10% desiccated liver added to their rations.
Then the doctor placed the rats one by one into a drum of water, out of which they could not climb, it was either swim or drown. The group one rats swam an average of 13.2 minutes. Group two, an average of 13.4 minutes. Group three, however, were still swimming at the end of two hours.'

I take 2 Universal Nutrition Uni-Liver Tablets each morning.  High on Mt. Everest when my stomach could not function well, it was one of two supplements that I would swallow with my instant noodles (the other was fish oil).  I'm not sure if that was enough to get the endurance boost, but it was worth a few grams of protein and enough for the summit.
I order these supplements from iherb.com.  For international orders, they are hard to beat for selection, price and shipping.  Get $10 off your first order with my discount code KOH756.

Sources: Web MD, Michael Colgan, Robb Wolf, Chris Kresser, Dave Drapper

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