How to help your digestion when flying

by | Staying Healthy, Travel

DISCLAIMER: If you don’t know me that well, I’m very passionate about gut health and talk quite happily about POOP – you’ve been warned 😉


Let’s talk digestive issues, bloating and discomfort after flying

I definitely notice I tend to get quite bloated and sometimes even get constipated after flights over 4-5 hours.

Now, if you have a super healthy, strong digestive system – then it’s likely you’re not that affected. BUT if you’re like me and your gut health is more delicate than a flower, I have some tips!



Why flying can affect your digestion

The lack of oxygen experienced in an aircraft can trigger inflammation in your digestive tract (same as if you were at high altitude in the mountains).

When you’re sitting for hours, your blood flow slows down significantly, which contributes to lower levels of oxygen. And on the cabin pressure, and now your body isn’t capable of absorbing as much oxygen either. That cabin pressure also cause gasses in your body to expand (hence that BLOAT).

Here’s the kicker!

Your digestive system needs oxygen to break down food and move it through the digestive tract (via muscular contractions). So it has to work harder to digest food on the plane.

Some people say that your digestive almost ‘shuts down’ on a plane, and whilst there is not really any scientific evidence to prove this, it goes without saying, that it’s absolutely not performing at it’s normal level.



How to reduce travel bloat and support your digestion whilst flying

  • Personally, we try to avoid the plane food – it’s typically fairly carb heavy and not the easiest to digest (and often packed with stuff we don’t eat much of e.g. gluten).
  • Try to always pack some healthier snacks from home – it’s rare you’ll see me traveling without food in my carry-on and checked luggage! (I’ll do another post about my fav healthy plane snacks).
  • On long-haul flights, it’s a bit harder to pack sufficient meals – so we request gluten, vegetarian, dairy free etc… (airlines are different, so we go with what is best).
  • Drink plenty of water! I know it can be a pain to get up and go to the bathroom more frequently, but you need that water to help stay hydrated and reduce any constipation. Plus, walking is good for helping your oxygen levels 😉
  • Take it easy on the coffee and alcohol – both not not going to help your digestive. Skip the fizzy drinks too.
  • Don’t eat everything you get offered! Seriously, if you’ve done a long-haul flight, you’d know the amount of food is crazy for sitting on your ass. Eat if you’re hungry, but otherwise, try to entertain yourself in other ways.
  • Give your gut a hand – think Peppermint tea, essential oils (DigestZen is great), charcoal supps, warm water with lemon, probiotics and make sure that if you’re eating, you get some fibre in.
  • Avoid FODMAP foods prior to flying – they are more likely to cause gas.
  • Don’t chew gum! You’ll swallow more air, which again can increase that gas situation.
  • Exercise when you get to your destination. Doesn’t have to be strenuous, but even just walking can help get your oxygen flowing again and help your digestion get moving too.


Stay tuned for more Healthy Travel Hacks!

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