Now its time to talk about something that seems embarrassing, but actually totally isn’t: Flight bloat.
Have you ever taken a long flight and noticed that by the end of it your shoes don’t fit properly and your belly aches. You may have thought it was all of the sitting and the super salty food that was responsible for the gross way you feel upon arrival (and you’d be sort of correct) but mainly, its plain old chemistry.
Let’s talk science. Boyle’s law (and this fantastic little paper) teaches us that gas expands as altitude increases. This means that no matter who you are or how many bags of pretzels you eat, as you fly the gas in your body will expand—sometimes to an uncomfortable level. The airplane’s cabin is “pressurized” (how many times have you heard that) so that you can breath normally but your belly can’t be fooled.
There are some things you can do to help ensure a comfortable flight and a toot-free arrival at your final destination.
One of my favorite ways to prepare for a long flight is pack some activated charcoal in my carry on. These tablets have been used seemingly forever as a natural way to sooth an upset stomach and absorb toxins in the body. They have become a staple in my carry on because taking one or two towards the beginning of a flight (no matter how long) keeps me feeling, looking, and smelling fantastic for the duration.
Activated charcoal can also help you treat accidental poisonings, which means we should all probably have it on hand most of the time—hey, you never know.
There are some things you have to think about before using activated charcoal. First and foremost, activated charcoal absorbs things in your body and renders them inert which is great for gas and poison but terrible for medication. Make sure to use the product as directed to avoid letting the charcoal absorb your meds.
Another, way less serious but annoying, consideration to be aware of when traveling with activated charcoal capsules is that they are exactly what they sound like: capsules filled with charcoal. If you’re not careful they might get smashed in your bag and make a giant mess. This can easily be avoided by keeping them in a bottle or sealed bag, but that knowledge hasn’t kept me from ending up with a charcoal-y mess in my bag on more than one occasion.
Now on to brands. I’ve always relied on CharcoCaps (which you can buy at most pharmacies and grocery stores) because they are the first ones I found and a bottle with 100 capsules lasts for quite a while. That being said, I’ve had friends use other brands, such as Nature’s Way, and have heard nothing but good things.