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The Best Drinks to Stay Hydrated and Healthy

Water is a necessity while embarking on a journey. While it does its job, there are other beverages with extra benefits.

You are about 60% water. Going more than two days without it can prove to be fatal. With pressure from different companies trying to claim their drink is superior, terms like “electrolytes” and “probiotics” are commonly brought up.

There are many different ways to stay hydrated while on the go. It’s easy to slip a water bottle or Gatorade into your bag before you head out. But do these sports drinks or other types of beverages provide a significant advantage over the former? Let’s dive deeper.

Introduction to Beverage Lingo

Many companies try and persuade you to buy their products with terms like “electrolytes” and “probiotics”, but what does this lingo actually mean? Time to elaborate.

Electrolytes are chemical compounds and minerals that create ions in bodily fluids. This is important for keeping adequate hydration as they keep your body running smoothly. A lack of electrolytes can lead to muscle fatigue and soreness. So electrolytes are always a good thing. Especially for vigorous exercise.

Probiotics are living bacteria that increase efficiency within the body. With digestive improvements and healing within the gut, probiotics are definitely good to have.

Antioxidants are particles that protect your body against free radicals, particles that emit radiation. These can prevent cell damage or even cancer from mutations caused by these free radicals. Vitamins C and E are both antioxidants. These can prevent damage caused by being around radioactive materials, which can be produced naturally.

Caffeine is a stimulant that reacts with the central nervous system that increases mental alertness. It can be useful in situations but is not too great for your body with excessive use because of a raised blood pressure and heart rate. Addiction can prevent your body from functioning properly without sufficient levels of caffeine including symptoms like nausea.

Sugar is also something to look out for. They are carbohydrates which provide your body with energy. In excess, they build up in fat.

Here are some of the best drinks for your body;

Gatorade

Gatorade is a sports drink that is efficient at replacing lost electrolytes. It has a relatively high amount of sugar but is still refreshing for long workout sessions. It also has no nutritional value other than a small amount of vitamin C and some electrolytes like potassium and sodium.

Propel

Similar to Gatorade and Powerade, Propel is electrolyte-infused flavored water. It also has copious amounts of antioxidants such as vitamin C and sodium. Propel is an exceptional beverage for exercise and virtually anything else as it contains no calories, but is somewhat high in sodium.

Bai

Bai is a tea infused with antioxidants from the coffee fruit. This also means that it contains caffeine, but not a large amount. The tea also contains a fair amount of vitamin C with almost no sugar. All around Bai is a healthy substitute to water with no real consequences.

Kombucha

Kombucha is a tea rich in antioxidants, like Bai, but is fermented to contain tons of probiotics. As a side effect of the fermentation process, there is a little bit of alcohol. This drink is good for improving health in the gut, but not so much during physical activity.

LIFEWTR

Literally just water. With calcium. The focus of this is on the artwork and creativity behind the bottle. But hey, water is good for you.

Green Tea

Green tea is one of the best things you can put in your body. On multiple occasions, green tea has been proven to increase brain function, reduced risk of cancer, and many many other benefits. Green tea is also extremely accessible as it can be found in a powder for ease of brewing. Pour it in and stir.

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How to Build a Campfire

Building a campfire is an essential skill for an outdoors lifestyle.

Whether you’re in the middle of the woods or making smores with the family, building a proper campfire can be a daunting task. With some wood and a little bit of knowledge, it’s not really that hard and can be a big help for many different tasks. Here’s how to do it in a few easy steps.

Start with a fire pit

To start building a fire, you are going to need some sort of way to contain it. Whether it be a big bucket, stones, or even a fancy structure. This is so that you don’t ignite the surrounding area including your house. Also, an uncontained fire is a problem especially in dry environments such as California wooded areas.

If you can’t get a proper area to hold a fire, make sure to keep a fireproof blanket or a fire extinguisher near in case of an emergency. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Getting the wood

Choosing your wood is definitely one of the most critical parts of your campfire. You want to get relatively decent sized chunks of wood for your endeavors. Hickory, White Birch, or Oak are some of the best woods to burn. Cedar lacks in flame but excels in heat, making it great for a winter campfire. Try avoiding softer woods like Spruce or Willow because density is proportionate to burn time.

Storing your wood is also an important step because it won’t burn after a rainstorm. You can put in in a storage shed or even set it outside in a stack with a large tarp to keep moisture and other unwanted debris away from your wood.

Setting up the pyre

The most common way to set up wood is in a cone fashion. This is done by inserting a support stick into the ground and leaning the chunks against it over a pile of small combustible material, or kindling, such as wood shavings, leaves, newspaper, etc. As long as they don’t fall over and have a plethora of airflow, you should be all set.

It is imperative to have extra materials around nearby like kindling to keep the fire going as long as you need it. It would be unfortunate to set up a campfire and invite all your friends and family just to have it go out and be unprepared.

Lighting the masterpiece

So you’ve built your pyre and are ready to set it ablaze. You can use a lighter or toss a lit match in the kindling. Whatever you do avoid using things like gasoline or other accelerants that are not designed for this task. You can severely injure yourself or someone else by igniting a flame with gasoline. Surprisingly, cheese puffs are a decent firestarter after you have a flame going.

Remember to never leave the fire unattended, as you never know what may happen when you are absent.

 Extinguishing the fire

You should always put out the fire if it hasn’t gone out. When you are done, there are a few things you can do to end the inferno. If it is still going strong you can pour water on it or use a fire extinguisher to reduce the flames. If that doesn’t work you can use a fireproof blanket to kill off the big flames and put out the embers with water. At the end of the day, there is always the water hose if available.

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Introduction to MRE’s and Freeze-dried Food

As the main source of nourishment from astronauts to military personnel, MRE’s and freeze-dried food are easy to eat and convenient in extreme situations.

MRE, or Meal Ready to Eat, is a form of food that is sealed in a way where it can be preserved for up to 3 and a half years at 81°F. They are used in combat and for astronauts as they can still be safe over long journeys for extended periods of time. Ever since 1981 starting with the MRE I, they have been used as the primary ration of deployed US troops.

MRE’s come in many different types, such as main courses, sides, and even desserts. There are also certain vegetarian entrées. Most of these contain napkins, utensils, and other types of condiments to spice up the not-so-good-looking meals. Here are some types of MRE’s.

Regular Meals

Usually, within the MRE, there are multiple different packages inside because the meals are tailored for a full work day in combat. An MRE contains a main course, side dishes, dessert, and a flameless heater with utensils. Sometimes there can be condiments and drink mixes in tandem to the base materials.

Types of Main Dishes and Sides

An appetizing slab of chicken tetrazzini.

Main dishes can come in a variety of different types. These are frequently the most nutritious part of the MRE and are not usually as good as they appear coining the name “Meals Rejected by Everyone”. Currently, there are rations such as vegetarian taco pasta, chicken with noodles, beef stew, chicken, meatballs and marinara sauce, shredded bbq beef, chili, fettuccine sauce, macaroni, spaghetti and meat sauce, beef tacos, and much much more.

Desserts and Condiments

An ambrosial selection of MRE apples.

MRE’s can also contain snacks and certain types of sauces, toppings, and even desserts. There is gum, cakes, brownies cookies, drink mixes, peanut butter, jam, mints, coffee, oatmeal, tortillas, and the list goes on.

Freeze-Dried Food

Freeze-Dried Ice Cream

Freeze-drying is another preservation method by low-temperature dehydration. These foods can have a shelf life of more than 20 years and can be rehydrated fully by stirring with water depending on the quality of the product. Freeze drying is not as common because of the high cost of the procedure, although it is still used today. Common foods that are freeze-dried contain water such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, and coffee. These meals are usually consumed by our space wanderers.

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Best Plants and Berries to Eat in the Wild

While going on an adventure, you may see a luscious bush with fruit on it. Although they look good to eat, some of them might be poisonous.

First of all; it’s probably not a great idea to eat something you aren’t familiar with. One of the goals of a plant is to disperse their seeds. There won’t be any seeds if a herbivore eats all of the plant’s fruit, so toxins are used as a measure of protection.

It’s also wise to inform small children about the bad ones as they may not know any better from regular plants. Here is a list of plants that are poisonous, and ones that healthy to eat.

Poisonous Plants

A good rule of thumb is that a poisonous plant probably has poisonous fruit. Stay away from plants with thorns or anything that appears to be defending itself.

Deadly Nightshade

Deadly Nightshade, or belladonna, is native to parts of Asia and Europe. Don’t be fooled by the beautiful flowers because the plant is highly toxic; even by touching it you can develop a rash. Eating a single berry can be fatal. The toxins found in the plant are tropane alkaloids such as atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine. These can cause hallucinations and delirium in small doses but can be counteracted by drinking vinegar1. Nowadays, the plant can be used by optometrists to dilate the eyes.

Hemlock

Hemlock, or conium, is found pretty much everywhere. It’s generally safe to touch but can cause a rash in some people. Hemlock is only a lethal flower if ingested due to the concentration of the toxin coniine, which causes the respiratory system to fail, requiring immediate medical care2.

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle is a flower native to the northern hemisphere. Depending on the species, some come with mildly poisonous berries. Eating a few berries can result in a moderate stomach ache or dizziness. Even though the symptoms aren’t severe, it’s generally safer to stay away from these.

Holly

Holly is a festive plant used for decoration. It looks very similar to honeysuckle and is also non-lethal. The active toxin inside of the holly berries is called saponin. Even with eating multiple berries, you won’t really get a worse reaction than a rash and vomiting3. Still, don’t eat it.

Edible Plants

Here are some fruits and plants that are completely safe to eat. If you see a familiar fruit or one that isn’t poisonous, you should wash it off before consumption to remove any dirt or other contaminants.

Crab Apple

The crab apple is a sour fruit found on some trees. There are different varieties and tend to be different colors. Crab apples are found all over the world. It isn’t the most pleasant thing to eat and can give you a stomach ache if you ingest too many.

Huckleberry

As the state fruit of Idaho, the huckleberry (or the bilberry) is found in North America and Asia. There are reports of some health benefits from the berry, but none have been scientifically acclaimed. The huckleberry can be used in place of the blueberry for pies, jelly, etc.

Serviceberry

The serviceberry, or sugarplum, is a bush most exclusively in North America, with some in Asia. The fruits are sweet when ripe as denoted by the name, and are essential to the ecosystem. The seeds give off an extra almond-like flavor, from the amygdalin within them.

Elderberry

Elderberries are old. Just kidding. Native to almost everywhere, the flower and fruit can be used to treat minor ailments in terms of the cold or headaches. It can be brewed into a tea or ingested traditionally. Be careful though; if you eat the stems (Who would want to eat those anyway) you can get the same side effects as the honeysuckle plant from the harsh alkaloids found within them.


Sources:
1. Largo, Michael. “The A-List Celebrity of Poisonous Plants.” Slate Magazine, Slate, 18 Aug. 2014, slate.com/technology/2014/08/poisonous-plants-belladonna-nightshade-is-the-celebrity-of-deadly-flora.html.

2. Largo, Michael. “Plato’s Description of Socrates’ Death by Hemlock Was a Little Too Kind.” Slate Magazine, Slate, 21 Aug. 2014, slate.com/technology/2014/08/poisonous-plants-socrates-drank-hemlock-tea-as-his-preferred-mode-of-execution.html.

3. “Holiday Plants with Toxic Misconceptions.” PubMed Central (PMC), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3555592/.

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Wilderness Survival: Take Care of Your Feet

The most overlooked outdoor survival strategy is right under your nose—well, five or six feet under your nose.

Your backcountry comfort – not to mention survival – starts from the ground up. | Image courtesy of MaxPixel.com

Ask any infantryman, and they’ll tell you that taking good care of your feet is one of the best things you can do to stay off the injured list. If you’re planning on doing some real hiking out in the backcountry, especially if you plan to be out for multiple days, now is the time to make sure you don’t wind up on the side of a mountain with two “flat tires”—feet that just can’t move you any further. Here’s how to keep that from happening.

Before the Hike

It can often be daunting to buy a new pair of boots, but this is a decision that can make or break your trip. Get out there and try the boots on. | Image courtesy of Armchair

First, you need to get those boots squared away. Your footwear is absolutely critical, because “a few blisters” can absolutely develop into a real emergency in the backwoods. Not only can they make it exquisitely painful to walk, they open an avenue for infection to set in. If you have any circulation problems, that’s doubly dangerous. So what you want to do is make sure that your boots not only fit you properly, but they’re completely broken in.

This is a time when you’re better off shopping in person at a brick-and-mortar store, so you can compare boot fit in real time. Secondly, you should hit that store at the end of the day, preferably after you’ve been on your feet for a while. (This will help replicate the swollen feet everyone gets after using them for any significant time.) You should wear socks as similar as possible to the ones you’ll be wearing in the backcountry.

Third, you’ll want to break those bad boys in. This goes way beyond wearing them around the house for a few hours. Fill a pack up with about the amount of weight it’ll have when you get out there for real, put it on, and then walk. Outside, on varying terrain, if at all possible. When you get back home, check your feet. Are there any “hot spots” where blisters might be gearing up to make an unwelcome appearance, like my ex-girlfriend at a family picnic? If so, you may want to either try using a boot stretcher to give yourself a little more wiggle room, or you may choose to apply moleskin to those spots before you start hiking.

In the Backcountry

Clean and bandage your feet as soon as possible, and give your feet a thorough rest at the end of a long day.

Once you’re out in the backcountry, make a habit of giving your feet a good once-over every time you remove your boots. (If you’re like me, your friends will scatter like pigeons when they see the shoes coming off, so you’ll have plenty of privacy.) Clean, disinfect, and bandage any blisters, but don’t try lancing them if you can avoid it. Antibiotic ointment—particularly the type that has a little Lidocaine in it—is your friend. Change your socks regularly for clean, dry ones. In fact, if you’re going to make room in your pack for anything “extra,” let that extra be fresh socks…more than you think you’ll need.

Remember, take care of your feet—and they’ll take care of you!