*Coach Helder may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post
It wasn’t that long ago that I boarded a bus to Parris Island in order to becomes a United States Marine. I was jittery, full of nerves and was certainly doubting my decisions. As we emptied our pockets of all remnants representing our civilian life, and disposed of it in the bus’s trash receptacle, my fellow recruits and I knew that our lives were about to drastically change. Minutes later, the bus came to a screeching halt… We were told to get the hell out of the bus and place our feet on the yellow footsteps that were painted onto the road at the entrance of the Parris Island Recruit Depot.
It wasn’t long before our intense training began. The goal was to break down the nasty civilian that was contained in each of us, and to build us up as bad ass United States Marines. Let’s just say that Marine Corps Drill Instructors are very proficient at their job. They know exactly which buttons to press, and at which time, in order to get the most out of their Marine recruits. I cannot state that it was always pretty… But it was certainly effective!
My memories from bootcamp are vast. There are so many life lessons that were learned and still implemented into my daily life. One process that is fresh on my mind is the method used to make sure that we were hydrated. We would line up in formation, inside of our barracks, and away from prying eyes. Privacy was something that was easily available to a 3rd Battalion recruit. We were far away from the main buildings on Parris Island. This afforded my drill instructors the convenience of teaching us proper discipline throughout our training.
As we lined up for our hydration break, we would all be called to the head (bathroom) in order for the color of our urine to be checked. If our urine was anything other than clear colored, we knew what lay ahead of us shortly after our pee inspection. Since it was rare for anyone in my platoon to pee crystal clear urine, we would fall back into formation and await the next phase of our drill. We would be ordered to gather our filled canteens and chug water until our canteens were empty. We would then need to hold the empty canteen above our heads, proving, that we had drank the contents of our canteens.
Most of the recruits would throw up during these drills, making them truly dehydrated, but that is a story for another day.
The thought was that if our urine wasn’t clear, we were dehydrated. Since we were dehydrated, we need to drink more water… And lots of it! I later learned that the color of our urine has little to do with our hydration levels. Nonetheless, proper hydration became a priority to me, regardless of which physical activity I was performing. Obviously, I currently address my need for hydration far differently than the protocols instilled by my drill instructors; But the main principle was still there and deeply instilled in me.
Another lesson about hydration that stood out in boot camp was the fact that we were prohibited from drinking anything besides water. Our chow halls had various types of bug juice and even our MRE’s (meals ready to eat) contained packets of drink mixes. The availability was there but if we even thought about consuming these tasty drinks… The cost would have been much more than any of us could afford. After graduation, we were told that these juices and drinks contained mainly sugar. Sugar was bad for us in many ways, but especially when it came to making us prone to dehydration. Sugar came in many forms including today’s dreaded HFCS (high fructose corn syrup).
During any physical endeavor, we need to replenish the nutrients and water that we lose during the activity. Sugars, especially the refined and lab made varieties, hinder our hydration process. The cleaner the water that we introduce into our bodies, the better that our system will operate. But we still need to address the need of replacing crucial nutrients that we lose when we sweat. These nutrients or electrolytes need to be put back into our bodies. Electrolytes maintain crucial functions in the body. Regulating your heartbeat and controlling the constriction of muscles are just a couple of the crucial functions aided by electrolytes.
As I continued on with my Marine Corps career, sports drinks started make their way into our ranks. All the top athletes were endorsing these sports drinks as, ultimate electrolyte replacers. Well… If it was good enough for the pro’s, it certainly was capable of restoring electrolytes in us grunts. These sports drinks followed me from the Marines into my civilian life. These drinks tasted incredibly well so it wasn’t as if I were suffering in any way, it was quite the contrary.
Think about it, who doesn’t want to continually drink something that tastes just like candy?
As the years went on, I began to learn more about proper nutrition. One of the first rules that I learned was to avoid refined sugar at all costs. This began to ring a bell. If you recall, we weren’t allowed to have any drinks in boot camp besides water. Somehow, once I became a Marine and headed out into the fleet… Sugary drinks were not only available, they were recommended! The key was to be able to replace electrolytes without the added sugar; Was there a natural way?
I kept this idea in my mind but continued on with life. A couple of years went by and I was contracted to teach knife defense to a popular Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy in Sao Paulo, Brazil. As with most training experiences, I bonded with my students and got a bit of immersion into their culture. I noticed that during our training sessions in the dojo, the martial artists were drinking something that I had never seen before. Since I was new to the area, this wasn’t a big deal. Most of the things that folks were consuming were new to me.
During one of the breaks, I was offered one of the white cartons that I had seen the students drinking from throughout our trainings. I read the ingredients and it stated “100% Coconut Water.” Since it looked legal to me, I took a sip. Man, This stuff was delicious! As I asked more about this wonderful concoction, they explained to me that this is what they use to combat dehydration and electrolyte replacement. I was a bit perplexed since this was the last place that I thought I’d learn about nutrition. But there is was… Simple, Natural and Nutritious with an amazing taste!
Once I got back to the United States, I began to research more about coconuts and their health benefits. Not only were coconuts nature’s answer to electrolyte replacement, but they also came with a few other key uses. As someone focused on emergency preparedness, I am continually looking for multipurpose applications for anything that I decide to get versed in. If I need to gather items during a crisis, I want the effort to be justified. The more uses that I get out of the time that I invested, the better that I will bode in the crisis.
As I travelled over the years, I have come across many locations where coconut trees are native to the land. I learned quite a bit of applications that the coconut can aid us in when the SHTF. I want to go ahead and share a few of these uses with you.
Let’s Get Started…
Enjoying coconut water in Brazil was certainly an eye opener. Marketing companies use celebrities to push their unhealthy, sugary drinks. They lead us to believe that they are the only game in town when it comes to electrolyte replacement. In addition, there are various, all natural, options that can handle the task much better than a beverage containing mainly sugar. Luckily, a coconut contains both nutritious water and milk, depending on its maturity.
Coconuts will keep you hydrated while giving you the comfort of a tasty drink. In an emergency, we will certainly need all of the morale building and comfort that we can get.
Being able to make natural charcoal from coconuts is a benefit to those of us focused on fire building. Many that focused on optimal health have been using charcoal, made from coconuts, for centuries. It is used for burning incense, cleaning teeth, digestive cleanse, purifying water and even for lighting hookahs in order to get the cleanest experience possible.
Wherever there are coconut trees, there are usually coconut shells laying around it. These shells are ideal for making charcoal. Coconut charcoal does not emit any toxic gases and is eco friendly. It burns completely into an ash allowing us to abide by the leave no trace principle.
Getting a fire started is a part of the fire building process that is difficult for those new to the skill set. Utilizing ferro rods and bow drills make the fire starting process even more intimidating for the novice. Using dry coconut burlap, which is collected from the base of the leaves, makes the process a bit easier. The burlap resembles fabric and not only will it catch a spark, it also holds a flame very well.
Coconut Palm Hearts:
Another food that the coconut offers, that many are unaware of, are the palm hearts. They are harvested from the inner core of the coconut palm trees. It is a delicacy in many parts of the world including Brazil and Costa Rica. It can easily be eaten on its own or combined into other dishes. The center core is where the good stuff is. There is less fiber to deal with so the taste and digestion is much easier.
Can Be Used As An IV:
There are many things that we cannot plan for during a crisis. Having the right fluid to administer an IV (intravenous rehydration) will be a challenge during a SHTF scenario. Luckily, coconut water is so pure, that it can and has been used for IV’s. In the year 2000, there was a report that a stroke victim was unable to drink or use his nasal passage. A coconut water IV was used successfully to save the victim’s life. Coconut IV’s were also used in World War II by the British as well as the Japanese.
Coconuts grow in very specific climates. If you do not live in one of those climates, you may consider this information useless. However, we need to be ready for any scenario if we are to consider ourselves fully prepared. Having access to this information is crucial in your physical preparedness. You can find coconut water and products in most grocery stores these days. The healthier that you go into an emergency situation, the better chances of you surviving that scenario.
I am always reminded of Tom Hanks in Castaway when I teach this part of my curriculum to my NTC Members. I’ll take a coconut over Wilson, any day of the week. 😉