Beat the Bloat: Airplane Edition

Of the many fine things summertime offers, travel to distant destinations is among my very favorites. That being said, there are certain side effects (other than jet-lag) that can be a major drag during and post voyage… I am referring, of course, to bloating. There is actually a term to for this exact phenomenon-High Altitude Flatus Expulsion, first identified in the 1820s by Joseph Hamel. For reasons of personal comfort and shared recycled air, let’s take a look at how to beat the odds.

HAFE, for short, occurs above 8000 feet and is the result of internal pressure to release gas in response to decreased atmospheric pressure.  Avoiding gas-forming foods such as fried foods, beans, bananas, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and dairy are a great first step. As a general rule, the lighter you eat, the better you feel.  In-flight, drink as few caffeinated beverages as possible and make sure to drink as much water as your flight attendant is willing to bring you. Additionally, carbonated beverages are not your friend if you are looking to reduce the odds of onboard mortification. Stay away from the heavily salted snacks, and skip the rich sauces if you happen to be on a flight with meal service. For a host of reasons, booze in flight is more trouble than fun (not least that alcohol and altitude lead to a quicker buzz and a quicker hangover- save those cocktails for on the ground). Did I mention drink an abundance of water? Yes. And it bears repeating- drink an abundance of water.

Now for the to-do’s: if you have on-the-ground gas and have a favorite over-the-counter solution, this is a good go to for travel. Activated Charcoal, available in supplement form, can also work miracles (for more on the benefits, click here).  Probiotics before boarding have proven helpful, as well. Getting up and moving around in flight is always a good idea; if you, like I, experience shyness about pacing randomly up and down the aisles or attempting yoga poses whilst waiting for the bathroom, remember: you will likely never see these people again, and your less-swollen-self will be more than enough compensation for your troubles.

Once back on the ground, try this DIY tonic over at mindbodygreen to alleviate any residual unpleasantness. I hope this affords all you travelers with a more comfortable trip, and would love to hear your go-to travel tips.

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