Air travel can cause a whole host of issues with our bodies, from dry skin to popping ears to changes in the way we taste and smell.
While most of these symptoms are completely harmless, we all want to feel our best when we arrive at our destination – and spending hours cramped on a flight while feeling unwell is less than ideal.
Bloating is a common problem for a number of plane passengers, causing discomfort for some but also nausea and stomach pain for others.
But thankfully it can be mitigated with a few alterations before and during your journey, letting you focus on your trip rather than your digestive system.
Ashleigh Tosh, health and nutrition expert from Prepped Pots explains: ‘Bloating on planes is really common, especially for those who have IBS. The high altitudes can make the gas in your stomach expand which leads to bloating.’
This is down to something called Boyle’s Law, which is the same reason crisp packets and fizzy drinks bottles swell up when you’re in the air.
So if you want to avoid wind (and we don’t mean turbulence) while flying, you need to ease the pressure that accumulates in your stomach at 30,000 feet.
Here’s how to avoid the dreaded ‘jet belly’:
If you experience regular bloating, it’s worth avoiding foods that cause this before boarding.
Common foods that cause the stomach to swell are those that contain wheat and dairy, but it may help to start a food diary in the months before your trip to track symptoms and what you’ve eaten. When you know the culprit, steer clear in the run-up to the flight.
Carbonated and fizzy drinks release air as they move through our digestive system, which is what causes us to bloat.
Consuming these during or before your flight increases the risk of bloating, so opt for still drinks if you want to avoid discomfort – unfortunately that means airport pints are out.
Ashleigh recommends opting for an aisle seat where possible, as this allows you to get up and take regular short walks.
‘As a general rule of thumb, moving around on the plane and taking small walks can ease the pressure in your stomach,’ she says.
Keeping your body moving helps reduce bloating as well as your risk of issues like Deep Vein Thrombosis, so is particularly important if you’re on a long haul flight.
Drinking water removes the excess sodium in your body that causes you to feel bloated – no doubt exacerbated by salty plane food. It’ll also mean more trips to the toilet which means you’ll keep your body moving.
If you don’t want to pay airline prices, bring a refillable bottle in your hand luggage. When empty, it won’t be confiscated by security for breaking liquid restrictions, and most airports have taps where you can fill up for free.
According to Ashleigh, eating chewing gum can cause you to swallow excess air, leading to a buildup of gas in the stomach which is a common cause for bloating.
If you usually use chewing gum to prevent your ears from popping, consider sucking on hard boiled sweets instead.
Teas like peppermint, ginger and chamomile are all known for reducing bloating, plus some have anti-emetic properties to keep altitude sickness at bay or can calm you down if you’re a nervous flyer.
So why not ask your flight attendant for a cup of herbal tea and you’ll start your holiday off on a high?
If you’re eating on your journey, try to go for lighter foods like protein, fruits and vegetables that are easier to digest.
It can also be beneficial to swap large meals for small snacks throughout the flight, giving your gut time to process food while dealing with the effects of expanding gas and air.
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