Five Foods to Avoid Before Flying


For many flyers, downing a few cocktails is part of their pre-flight protocol. It helps allay fear of flying and serves as a liquid sleeping pill. But doctors (yes, them again) say that consuming alcohol before or during a flight should be avoided -- and it can actually contribute to passengers having trouble falling back asleep once they awaken.

Eric Rimm, an associate professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, tells Health Magazine: "Since there's less water in your blood when you're dehydrated, the concentration of alcohol will be slightly higher, leading to quicker intoxication and increased potential for a hangover." Still, many a traveler swears by the pre-flight or in-flight tipple. If having a pre-flight drink is a must for you, counteract the effect of the booze by consuming plenty of water.

No. 4: Carbonated Beverages

When flying, and especially on a long-haul, it helps to think of yourself as a super athlete competing against the forces of dehydration, physical pain, rude flight attendants and the smelly guy sitting next to you. As an athlete, you'd never consume a Pepsi during a triathlon, would you?

You need to be at your peak, and carbonated beverages are thought to contribute to bloating and cramping, two enemies of the long-haul athlete. Again, we're suggesting that you avoid foods that impede digestion and potentially cause distress to you and your fellow passengers. The people at Lufthansa put it succinctly on the company Website: "Try to avoid carbonated drinks such as cola because they cause wind and also have a diuretic effect."

No. 5: Everything

In a study published in the Journal of Science in 2008, researchers suggested that fasting for about 16 hours before a long flight might actually help to fend off jet lag.

Here's the study in a nutshell: Normally, it's light that triggers an internal clock that controls when we eat and sleep. But according to the study, a second clock seems to override the first when the body senses that food is in short supply. So researchers believe we might be able to faster adjust to time zone changes by manipulating this second clock based on hunger. In essence, if you make your body think it's starving, you'll be able to remain awake and alert until it's dinner time in your new destination, resetting your body's light clock in the process.

Of course, we must stress that the study was conducted on lab rats, and the link has not been found in humans. But travelers desperate to avoid slumping over at 6 p.m. may wish to contribute to the study.

What foods do you avoid before a flight? Share your tips on foods travelers shouldn't touch prior to getting on a plane.

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