Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Pass Me the Meal Tray not the Sickbag; The Truth About Food and Digestion at Altitude

Death warmed up doesn't quite describe the feeling when you've eaten something before takeoff or during the flight that doesn't quite agree with you. Save yourself the pain by understanding what is in play between food digestion and altitude.  No matter how much airlines try to dress food up and make it appealing plane food is meant for one thing, sustenance while getting you from A to B.

Articles like the 10 foods to avoid before flying name foods such as chips, red meat, beans, soft drinks, chilli and other usual suspects (coffee garlic and gum) as foods to avoid but the truth is if you understood the flying environment better you might find that

  • Altitude is a hypobaric environment, which means all physiological functions are affected. Digestion becomes less efficient at altitude.
  • Any borderline issues you have with food in a normal setting will more than likely be pronounced at altitude.
  • The acid or alkaline value of any food eaten at altitude can have an effect on how digestible it is in the oxygen-poor aircraft cabin. 
  •  Food serves a little known psychological purpose at altitude. Think about it, you are hurtling through the air in a tube which defies gravity and seems to be moving so slow. This can be quite unnerving. Food and the ability to be certain that you can at least fill your stomach gives you a sense certainty. Food is a distraction.

Altitude is not the place to become a gourmand. If you want the meal tray and not the sickbag it is best to keep all meal choices as simple as possible when flying.

TIP If your enjoyment of the flight is dependent on eating the inflight meal and beverage offering your best bet is to pack some good quality digestive enzymes with you for those times you don’t want to say no. 

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