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Can what you eat affect your health as you travel? Yes. I found out the hard way that there are foods you never eat on a plane.
A few years back, I was taking my daughters to Ohio to visit their grandparents. We planned ahead, had everything packed, at the airport through security, boarded the plane and off we went.
Everything was on time. As usual, my daughters watched the take-off then closed the window blinds and promptly went to sleep.
My mom and my husband can do that as well. Me? Nope so I was reading a book for the duration of the flight.
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Landed in Cleveland, grandpa picked us up and over to the house we went. Not even there five minutes and I am sick. Flu sick. Vomiting. Running to the restroom. The whole 9 yards.
How in the world did that happen when I left Florida perfectly healthy? What started out as a nice fall vacation quickly turned into my sleeping for the next two days. My daughters? No problems.
What happened to me actually happens to many people when they travel especially when flying. Since it’s the time of year many are traveling,I wanted to take a few moments to update this article with what you should and should NOT eat while traveling.
What Causes Us To Get Ill While Flying?
When flying, there are so many things that can have an effect on our health and well-being. Here are just a few things we are exposed to in airplanes:
How Germs Spread in Confined Spaces
Airplanes are known for their limited space, with passengers sitting in proximity to one another. This environment can facilitate the spread of germs. Some factors to consider include:
- Shared surfaces: Armrests, tray tables, and seat belts are frequently touched by passengers, making them potential sources of contagious germs.
- Recirculated air: Although modern airplanes use HEPA filters to help minimize the spread of germs, the confined space and recirculated air can still contribute to the transmission of illnesses.
- High-touch areas in airports: Escalator handrails, touchscreens at check-in kiosks, and security bins are all used by numerous passengers, increasing the risk of virus transmission.
To help reduce the spread of germs while traveling, it’s crucial to practice good personal hygiene and follow appropriate handwashing techniques.
Effects of Altitude on the Digestive System
The altitude and air pressure changes experienced during air travel can also impact the body, particularly the digestive system. Key factors to consider include:
- Gas expansion: As altitude increases, the air pressure decreases, causing gas in the stomach and intestines to expand. This can result in discomfort and bloating.
- Dehydration: The low humidity in airplane cabins can contribute to dehydration. Combined with the diuretic effect of caffeine or alcohol, this may lead to headaches and constipation.
Considering these things can help you make better choices about what to eat while flying. Some recommended food options on planes are:
- Lean proteins, such as grilled chicken or tofu, as they tend to be easily digestible.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables, providing hydration and essential vitamins without causing digestive issues.
- Whole grains, like quinoa or brown rice, for lasting energy without causing bloating.
It’s best to avoid these foods:
- Carbonated beverages and fried foods, which can contribute to gas and bloating.
- High-fiber foods, like beans or lentils, which may cause gastrointestinal distress.
- Greasy or heavily seasoned dishes, which can further exacerbate stomach discomfort.
When we travel, we’re often in small confined places like an airplane or train and germs are rampant. How can you protect yourself when you barely have room to move?
Foods you NEVER eat on a plane:
These simple tips on what to eat as well as not to eat will help:
- Avoid drinking the water on a plane unless it’s bottled. Matter of fact, what I do is I buy a big bottle of water once I’m through security. Tap water on the plane isn’t very healthy. You may think it’s being emptied and refilled, but the water may actually be sitting in the tanks for long periods of times. This is a tip a flight attendant gave me several years back.
- Avoid coffee or tea for the same reason because it is usually made with the tap water on the plane.
- Those fast, fried foods that smell so delicious when you’re walking through the airport or train station? Skip the line. Digestion is harder on your body when you’re 35,000 feet in the air and may constrict blood flow. These are the foods I now carry with me when traveling: Snacks for travel
- Even though you may want a pre-trip beverage, it’s best to skip the beer or cocktail. Why? Alcohol dehydrates the body, and you want to stay hydrated when flying. Grab the bottle of water you carried on and sip away.
- Sugar-free gum and candy. These contain artificial sweeteners. Bottom line, whether you’re traveling or not, it’s difficult for the body to process fake sweeteners. It’s even more difficult when you’re traveling which may result in you being in the restroom for a long period of time. Which leads me to the final point.
- Try to avoid using the restroom on flights. Face it. There are a LOT of people using the restroom which means there are a LOT of germs on the washroom handle, toilet seat, the countertop and door knobs. If you do need to use the restroom, wash your hands thoroughly then use a paper towel as a barrier between you and what you need to touch. Be sure to read this next for a no-brainer way to stay healthy: An easy way to stay healthy.
One final tip is to keep your air vent on and point it straight down. This creates a cone of protection that may keep germs from getting near you.
I’ve placed a few simple tips below that will have you arriving healthy AND happy to your destination.
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Denise Sanger lives a life split between her love for fitness and her passion for travel particularly to the BEACH. Denise also has a love of marketing and lives in beautiful Suwannee County, Florida. You can find out more about Denise here: About Denise