Mountain Nutrition

by Roberto Morelli

The most discussed subject by experts and simple nutrition enthusiasts is: Nutrition. In the mountainside, you must keep in mind that recreational or sporty activities increase the energetic intake you need. This is why it is fundamental to pay attention to what you eat. The food must be digestible, it must have high caloric values and it must help protect your bones from stress brought by physical activities or the high altitude environment (such as the thermic excursions, ultraviolet rays, and oxygen rarefaction).
Therefore, it is necessary to eat high quality raw materials, in the sense, that it respects the seasonality of the fruits and vegetables and that it is harvested locally. Thus guaranteeing a concentrated intake of vitamins A,C and E.

Vitamin A is particularly found in carrots and other red and orange vegetables (such as pumpkins, beetroots, and radishes); Vitamin C, instead, sensitive to light and temperature, is found in citrus fruits, wild berries, apples and vegetables; lastly, Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils, walnuts and hazelnuts.
A good rule is to well proportion your meals within your excursion day in high altitude. This means a big breakfast (at least an hour before starting your hike) of carbohydrates and protein (biscuits, dry fruit, milk, yogurt, eggs), a lighter but nutritional lunch (a fontina and motsetta sandwich, seasonal fruit and vegetables), and keeping yourself hydrated during the day (water is still considered the best beverage for this). In fact, in the mountainside, especially as temperatures drop, it’s frequently used to drink a good glass of wine or a “lodge” drink, such as grappa or bombardino.

There’s nothing wrong with such use, however, consider that alcohol has a strong vasodilator effect, which makes you forget about the cold because as blood circulation increases, the blood becomes cooler quicker. Furthermore, alcohol influences the brain’s oxygen intake, this effect combined with the high altitude’s high oxygen rarefaction can give you a higher level of dizziness.

In conclusion, a healthy and balanced diet, calibrated on the different activities and external environmental conditions, helps obtain ideal psychological and physical results, and helps fully enjoy the uncountable benefits found in the mountains.