Survival Nutrition

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By Joel Jefferson •  9 min read

Staying healthy in a survival situation should be at the top of your preparation to-do list.  By maintaining health in an extreme circumstance you can better insure your own survival and that of your families.

Along with attention to proper hygiene, the key to staying healthy when you are relying on your own resources is eating proper nutrition. The absolute best way to get good nutrition is by providing sources of fresh fruits and vegetables to you and your dependents in every situation. An MRE is not going to get the job done and neither is a conventional vitamin.


Conventional vitamins, whether in pill form or added to food products are only isolated synthetic components of nutrients.  They are not the same as the complete complexes found in fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Shelf stable food that has been “fortified” with vitamins and minerals are providing the few standardized vitamins and minerals recommended by our government which can be synthetically derived or chemically produced in a lab. These do not provide you with the thousands of heath promoting nutrients that nature provides you in fresh foods.

Not only does it seem that conventional vitamins are relatively ineffective in promoting health they have also now been associated with serious side effects similar to those in pharmaceutical drugs especially when used long term

With more and more studies revealing the therapeutic value of real food, it has become very apparent that depending on a conventional vitamin to maintain in health is at best a waste of time and money.

Healthy Immune System

The good news is that the same foods which help you avoid sickness and infection, also help prevent long term disease. For a short term acute crises it is vital to avoid infection and sickness which would be debilitating for your situation.

A key component to a high functioning immune system is having healthy digestive system. The enzymes found in fresh fruits and vegetables are powerful components of food that help promote healthy digestion. In situations where water may be contaminated, a healthy digestive system can often successfully fight contaminants found in water such as parasites. 

Furthermore, by taking a table spoon of raw apple cider vinegar every day your intestines will more easily maintain a proper PH making them more permeable to nutrients and boosting the immune system (please be sure to rinse mouth with water every time as vinegar can eat the enamel off teeth otherwise.)


Another factor that can directly affect the immune system is stress.  Have you ever notice that after you’ve become “run down” is when you end up getting sick? 

Inevitably, in unforeseen crises situations stress will be a major factor on the functionality of your immune system. Certain super foods such as those naturally high in the vitamin B complex are going to help your body deal with the unavoidable “stressors”. Brewer’s yeast is a preferred natural source of the B vitamins and has been used for centuries as a natural food supplement.

Long Term

For long term self reliance, especially when medications are not widely available, one should take steps to avoid development of disease. Vinegar is a powerful disinfectant for a dirty surface or cuts in cases where infectious disease may be rampant. A diet rich in high anti-oxidant foods can help fight both infection and disease. Foods like citrus and berries are particularly high in anti-oxidants and should be a priority in your diet. 

Another aspect of disease prevention is the roll of chronic inflammation in your health.  Chronic inflammation can often be a precursor to diseases like cancer and heart disease.  Certain foods can either contribute to inflammation or help reduce it.  Processed and shelf stable foods often contain preservatives such as hydrogenated oils that perpetuate the inflammation cycle.  On the other hand, foods like ginger and turmeric have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation.

Fruits and Vegetables

Incorporating enough fresh fruits and vegetables into your normal everyday diet is hard enough with easy access in the local grocery store. How are you supposed to do it in the midst of major fall out or natural disaster?

This question poses a particular quandary when you are thinking about food storage. Food is most nutritious in the raw form because many of its healthful nutrients break down when heated above temperatures over about 100-115 degrees. 

Vitamin C for example is very susceptible to heat damage.  When you dehydrate your own food, you may be exposing it to temperatures too high to protect nutrients like the enzymes in fresh fruits and veggies necessary for healthy digestion. Freeze dried food is a great option because freeze drying protects almost all of foods naturally occurring nutrients. 

One idea is to keep a supply of freeze dried fruits and vegetables on hand from companies like TyRy Foods or Mountain House. You can store either the #10 cans from these manufacturers or the small fruit packs. Re-hydrating the food however usually involves hot water which introduces the heat factor once again.

Food Variety

Another obstacle to staying healthy on stored food is how to get a big enough variety of food in order to have a therapeutic effect. Different foods are higher in different nutrients. Nutritionists recommend eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables in order to get the necessary variety of nutrients from the various foods that contain them.  Maintaining a large enough variety of stock piled fruits and vegetables requires dedicated intention if you want to provide enough variation to make a difference in health.

Seed Packs

There are many seed packs such as those by Heirloom Organics designed with self reliance in mind that provide a variety of kinds of seeds. 

Priced range anywhere from $40.00 to $400.00, depending on your needs. A personal produce farm can be a treasury of nutritious foods which you control from planting to harvest.  But requirements to do so go beyond just a stock pile of seeds to include land for growing, water sources and weather/seasonal restrictions.

Whole Food Supplements

There are two other options for providing your family with fresh foods in a survival situation.  The most practical solution is the use of a true whole food supplement where the vitamin content comes from the foods in the ingredient list.

The vast majority of so called “whole food supplements” are not truly whole food at all.  Most of them are just synthetic vitamins (incomplete nutrients and unnatural) hidden in a culturing process with a little pinch of different foods sprinkled on top. It’s difficult to find a reliable company with integrity that provides truly naturally occurring nutrients.

Raw Source Organics is a perfect example of the real thing. Organic freeze-dried fruits and vegetables in a capsule with absorb-able minerals. The food is never exposed to heat above about body temperature during processing so it automatically contains the thousands of therapeutic compounds found in nutritious foods. Plus, it has a wide variety of food. 

For example, the Daily Vitamin C has 9 organic fruits and veggies in the ingredient list, nothing else, and 2 capsules gives you 100% Recommended Daily Value. There are no synthetic vitamins added in which means it’s safe for adults and children with none of the negative side effects associated with conventional vitamins. One of the greatest things about these supplements is that the capsule allows you to sprinkle the contents out. You can add it to other food like yogurt, applesauce or water rather than swallowing a pill if preferred.

The vitamin content in these products does begin to deteriorate after the expiration date on the bottle. For those preparing for short term situations a month’s supply of the Daily Immune and Daily Multiple is going to provide a good amount of nutrition in a wide enough variety for one person. 

For long term preparation, rotate a 12 month supply from your survival cache to your pantry, enough for each person in your family. This way you will be receiving a good amount of raw fruits and vegetables every day no matter what the circumstances may be.

Sprouting System

An alternative to whole-food supplements is a home grown sprouting system.  Buying a sprouting kit for a few hundred dollars allows you to sprout nutritious seeds on your kitchen counter top providing your family with nutritious fresh sprouts in about 3 days time.

There is a certain amount of work involved in the sprouting process as you have to change the water in the buckets at least every six hours to avoid bacteria growth and can require a lot of water. Without a continuous source of fresh water sprouting is not a viable option. 

Also, by only eating fresh sprouts you are still not getting a very big variety of foods and therefore are missing many potentially powerful nutrients like those found in beets, carrots or berries.

Wrap Up

In case of crises or disaster, most prepared people are equipped with enough calories from protein, fat and carbohydrates provided by shelf stable food to survive.  What most people have not considered is how to equip them selves with enough nutrition necessary to stay healthy. 

By supplementing your preparation efforts with either raw whole-food supplements or sprouts and seeds for growing , you are ensuring that your family will get what it needs to keep themselves healthy in almost any situation imaginable or otherwise.

Survival is not just about staying alive, its about living a reasonably healthy life in an unreasonable world.

Anna (featured in the above video) is one of the founders of the supplement company Raw Source Organics.  She has 8 years of experience in the natural products industry and with advocacy for alternative health options. After witnessing firsthand the colossal economic crash of Argentina in 2001, she became active in promotion of crisis preparation as related to health. Through her product and informational blog site, she brings a sobering perspective and practical guidance for promoting all around health in any circumstance.

Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here.