Adjusting to Altitude: What to eat when visiting, vacationing or living in the Mountains
Posted Oct 01 2008 9:16pm
Every year thousands of individual head to the mountains and varying elevations for ski trips, hiking excursions, retreats or vacation home living. Often accompanying these trips are symptoms of altitude adjustment or altitude sickness. From headaches, dehydration, loss of appetite, nose bleeds, shortness of breath, general fatigue and nausea- the symptoms can retard fun activities planned in the mountains.
Over six years ago I had the opportunity to hike the Himalayas of Nepal. My group and I trekked for over 28 days and had to learn how to acclimatize our bodies to adapt to the extreme altitude of 19,000 feet. We ate a very simple, yet effective diet that consisted of banana pancakes, dahl bat, garlic soup and herbal teas. From this experience and the research conducted to help our bodies adjust, I would like to share my altitude nutrition and acclimatization guide. Hopefully, this altitude diet and altitude "survival" guide will help you and your family enjoy your time in the mountains naturally without the use of a drug like diamox or decadron.
At the altitude or elevation of 4,000+ feet your body experiences a lower level of oxygen. The higher the elevation, the lower the air pressure is and the faster water evaporates from your body; without even sweating. As a result, your heart rate elevates causing your body to work harder to maintain your oxygen levels. Blood pressure can spike as your heart beats faster to pump more oxygen through your body.As your body is working harder you will experience one of more of these symptoms: Headache Listlessness Shortness of breath with mild to moderate activities Trouble sleeping Frequent urination Lack of appetite Nose bleeds
My altitude nutrition guide will help you adjustment to altitude and prevent altitude sickness and combat the effects of altitude on your health and body. A staple is at least 3 ltrs of water, a high carb diet (60-70%) and iron rich foods.
What to eat at high altitude and higher elevations: Garlic- whole, roasted or in tablet form Bananas-whole or in pancakes, yogurt or cereal High complex cards- rice, pasta, potatoes, whole grain breads, oatmeal, bagels Plenty of fluids, herbal teas, caffeine free teas, cider, fruit juice and electrolyte rich liquids like gatorade Iron rich foods: red meats, leafy green veggies
In preparation for a trip to the mountains: consume iron or take iron supplements like Floradix Liquid Iron as well as garlic tablets and meals with chopped garlic. Anemia or iron deficience can be problematic in the mountains and at higher elevations. With lower red blood cell counts, individuals with anemia need to counter balance the deficiency the increases as elevations increase. Women are often more prone to feel the effects and impact of anemia at altitude.
A carb rich diet iskey as carbs naturally replace muscle glycogen levels and prevent protein from being burned as energy; allowing you to have maintained energy. Another benefit is it also requires less oxygen for metabolism and your body works less to digest these foods.
You will want to avoid depressants like alcohol, sleeping pills, codeine and coffee. Avoid vigorous exercise until you feel your body has acclimatized properly.
For more information about the altitude nutrition guide or to receive a booklet for $5; please email firstname.lastname@example.org.