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The Matter of Salt

Have a favorite trail recipe or technique you'd like to share? Please do! We also like reviews of various trail food products out there. The Backcountry Food Topix forum is the place to discuss all things related to food and nourishment while in the Sierra wilderness (as well as favorite trail head eateries).

The Matter of Salt

Postby Hetchy » Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:11 pm

10 years ago I began to pay attention to what I ate.(Except the Biscuits :evil: )
Particularly the foods I choose for the trail.
I have since that time taken to buying many organic foods and made my main dishes as "healthful" as possible.
In the past few year there has been Whole Foods Market. A true boone to a finicky backpackers larder. All the food in the store is whole grain/no preservatives/no artificial flavors.. and expensive. But the biggest thing I have noticed is the lack of SALT.
In 2007 I had descended from 9600 feet to 4800 feet in a few hours. The heat lower down was oppresive and though I drank copious amounts of water my thirst was unquenchable. I began to feel the symptoms of Heat stroke. I actually thought I was going to faint and do a face plant on the trail. At last, through the fog in my mind, I came to the realization there was a larger problem.
Suspecting what I had read might be the culprit, I searched through the(now empty) ziplocks in my bear can. I found the bag that had contained my pretzels(Always carry them!) and found the blessed white powder of life... SALT! After licking the bag clean I drank more water and searched more ziplocks for salt. The end result was my mind cleared, and the nausea and dizzyness vanished(took about 1 hour).
I determined that all that super healthy food was equally salt free.
Just not enough to make up for it's loss through sweating and elimination under backcountry conditions.
To this day I carry a small quantity of Salt and Sugar in a ziplock in my first aid kit.
Has anyone else experienced this phenomena?
If so, what do you do to prevent or treat the condition?
You can make more money, but you can't make more time.

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Re: The Matter of Salt

Postby Snow Nymph » Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:18 pm

I drink electrolyte drinks (extra weight for backpackers), and carry salted nuts. I always carry little packets of salt in my first aid kit.
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison

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Re: The Matter of Salt

Postby Rosabella » Sat Apr 04, 2009 3:48 pm

I've wondered about my salt intake, but for the opposite reason. I very seldom salt my food at home, but when I'm on the trail, that's what I really crave... and eat… my salty snacks (i.e. jerky, nuts, oriental cracker mix, etc.). Sweet foods just gag me.

But what I’m noticing is that when I’m up at altitude after a few days, my hands, face and eyes start to get really puffy. I haven’t noticed my feet so much. I think that part of this puffiness is to be expected at altitude, but I’ve often wondered if the high salt intake is also partially to blame.
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Re: The Matter of Salt

Postby rlown » Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:31 pm

i'd second the electrolyte comment. I was starting to have that non-quenching thirst problem, so i've started adding those electrolyte tabs to my water bladder, esp before the huge uphill legs. major difference.
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Re: The Matter of Salt

Postby fishmonger » Thu Apr 23, 2009 5:11 pm

Gatorade during the day, some Thermotabs h(http://www.drugsdepot.com/catalog.php/d ... t/pd228639 ) at the end of the day has always worked well for me.
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Re: The Matter of Salt

Postby Sierra Maclure » Sun Jun 07, 2009 9:12 pm

I've bonked and gotten leg cramps from lack of salt, too, and seen health-conscious (read no salt) clients do the same. Didn't know what was wrong the first time it happened - a very hot and dry trip in Humphreys Basin area. I was eating, hydrated, aclimated but I felt like a zombie :retard: . (Depriving people of salt is how Haitians make zombies, BTW.) I had 4 servings of some Lipton chicken noodle soup (it tasted sooo good), the lights came back on, and I put 2 & 2 together. Turns out a side affect of a medication I was taking is hyponatrimia (low sodium). Now I take salty snacks (Gardettos) and know where the salt shaker is.
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Re: The Matter of Salt

Postby frediver » Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:06 am

Do not depend on electrolyte replacement drinks they do not contain enough
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Re: The Matter of Salt

Postby Shawn » Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:17 pm

While taking large amounts of sodium may temporarily resolve a sodium deficiency, doing so substantially increases the risk of a number of problems, including increased fluid storage and thus swelling, or edema, in the distal extremities, elevated blood pressure, and increased rate of sodium excretion. All of these inhibit performance. If you've ever finished a workout or race with swollen hands, wrists, feet, or ankles, or if you have experienced puffiness under your eyes and around your cheeks, chances are your sodium/salt intake was too high.

Source: http://www.hammernutrition.com/za/HNT?P ... %20Library
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Re: The Matter of Salt

Postby Cross Country » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:48 pm

One time I was talking to someone about my various trips to Granite lake near Mineral King. Once I hiked all the way out arriving after 8:00. 3-4 times I had to stop and camp halfway between Cliff Creed and Timber Gap. I was talking about a conversation I had on the ridge close to the lake with a doctor and his two sons. One asked his dad what gatorade is (I was drinking it) and his dad said it was a salt solution. After the trip I checked the GA container and saw it is mostly sugar, and I supposed this makes it more a sugar solution, but I believe it's actually an electrolyte solution. At that moment when the light went on in my head it changed all of my future backpacking trips and all of my softball tournaments. Like everyone else, my tourney 2nd games were my best and it went downhill from there. Buy the 4th and 5th games my performance fell off drastically. Ditto for backpacking. From the 4th day I never had good energy.
That day I hiked out with the doctor and his sons I got to Mineral King easily and early. It was the Gatorade. Realizing this I thereafter had much much better BP trips and tournaments. Once I played 7 games in 2 days while not able to eat any solid food for 4 straight days. One can do just fine eating nothing more than GA for days. For ten years I almost never stooped for lunch on a BP trip. The body can't digest to burn solid food in less than 1 hour and more like 3-4 hours.
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