As desert-based urban preppers, my wife and I have invested a lot of research, time, and expenses building up a substantial supply of food, water, household supplies, medications, fuel, alternative power, and home defense resources. We’ve studied, we’ve trained, we’ve networked with like-minded families, and we’ve done our best to be ready for what increasingly seems to be the inevitable.
And then things changed.
Roughly four years ago I began experiencing unexplained episodes of debilitating vertigo, ear ringing, hyper sensitivity to sound, hearing loss, and fullness in my left ear, similar to that feeling you get when you’ve been swimming and your ears get full of water. Five ENT doctors later I was finally diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease– a rare and chronic autoimmune affliction to the endolymphatic components of the ear that manage the moisture and fluid content of the inner ear. Meniere’s can affect either one or both ears. Fortunately only myleft ear is affected at this time.
There is no cure for Meniere’s; there are only ways to mitigate the potential for episodes and symptoms. The primary treatment is the elimination of salt in the diet and the body. Salt causes the body to hold fluids, so my primary preventative treatment is to severely restrict my salt intake and to take a diuretic to help rid the body of excess salt. All this came as a surprise to me as it was rare that I used a saltshaker. One of the secondary treatments is allergy management; allergies cause inflammation and inflammation leads to increase in mucous and fluids in the body, especially the sinus cavities and ears.
At the end of four days of allergy testing for nearly 200 potential allergens, we found that I was allergic to eggs, soy, and an assortment of trees and weeds. Yes, those healthy egg white and spinach omelets I ate almost everyday for breakfast are now history. As for soy, I had no idea so many items from food to skin care products to interior car parts and bedding contain soy. Most of the store-bought meat we eat is fed and raised on soy products as well.
To my wife’s credit, our food preps were very well diversified with the staples of bulk packed buckets of rice, beans, flour, grains and pasta, as well as canned foods and supplemental spices and treats to give variety to the bulk items. We also had about 1/3 of our food preps in the form of #10 cans of freeze dried meals, meats, TVP (soy), fruits, and vegetables. Herein lies the problem and the point where many of our preps became poisonous for me.
It’s highly unlikely you’ll ever develop Menieres, but what about high blood pressure or other chronic illnesses and allergies that can force you to not only change your diet but also your lifestyle?
Not all freeze dried foods are created equal. When it comes to salt and soy I can tell you that most of the full meal products contain two to four times more salt per serving than the USDA Recommended Daily Allowance of sodium, which is 2400mg for healthy people and much less for someone with high blood pressure or Menieres.
Ideally, we’d all eat locally or personally-grown, whole foods and meats everyday, but that may not be the reality in a SHTF scenario for those who do not live in rural areas. In our plan to build a diversified larder, it was smart to keep an ample storage of quick, easy, “add water and go” dehydrated meals. We still do store these. However, very little of that is of use to me personally now, except in miniscule servings.
As we rotate through our canned foods, my wife (being our home food planner and nutrition expert) replaces as much of our food stores as possible with “low to no sodium” and “no soy” options. For instance, something as simple as canned tomatoes can range from 20mg of sodium per can to 400mg per can. Canned soup, beans, and a host of other items have a wide range of sodium levels, as well.
The moral of this story is the importance of thinking about your age, your health, and how your health and nutrition requirements might change unexpectedly over the course of your life and your prepping. I had no idea or warning my health would change so suddenly and unexpectedly and chances are you have no idea what is in store for you either. Taking a close look at the health patterns of your blood relatives is a good start, since many maladies such as high blood pressure and heart issues are hereditary. Most importantly, before you buy a pallet of survival rations you should definitely read the labels and think about what in that package might become your poison someday.