Why It's Best To Completely Avoid This Common Type Of Drink On A Flight

Keeping yourself hydrated on a flight can be a challenge. You can't bring in liquids with you unless we're talking about 3.4-ounce toiletries. A bottle of water at the airport can be very expensive. Then you get on the plane and you're faced with tiny beverage cups. While airlines like JetBlue may let you have unlimited drinks and snacks from their pantry, some are better for you than others. One type can even make your trip pretty rough. We're talking about carbonated beverages, and there is a good reason to skip them when you're on a flight. They can cause stomach issues. 

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That's in addition to feeling off from an early or late flight, jet lag, motion sickness, travel stress, and/or tummy bugs picked up during your adventures. While the idea of a common in-flight beverage like Diet Coke or even a ginger ale — something traditionally used to help soothe stomach troubles –  might sound appealing, it's likely to do exactly the opposite of what you intend. Here are some other liquids to avoid, alternative drink options, and a few remedies for a rebelling digestive system while flying.

Why carbonated beverages are a bad choice on a flight

If you've ever had a stomach ache on a flight, you know how uncomfortable it is. There isn't anywhere to go, the restrooms are pretty public, and you're squashed into a small space. Low air pressure in the plane's cabin can make the gasses in your gut expand, which causes bloating. The result can range from uncomfortably tight pants and a mark from the button pressing into you to stabbing pains that double you over. You may feel bloated before you even have a sip of liquid, and adding more gas with a drink's bubbles isn't going to make it feel any better. (You may also want to avoid food that gives you gas, like onions, cruciferous vegetables, red meat, or beans.) Sweetened carbonated beverages can make stomach issues worse. That rules out ginger ale, which doesn't always contain much actual ginger, a substance that can sometimes help with bloating and nausea. Plus, the altitude makes carbonated drinks foam more, particularly Diet Coke, which means more bubbles to make your belly puff. 

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You should also avoid tap water, as the water tanks on planes were found to have E.coli and bacteria that can cause upset stomachs in a 2019 study. That means ruling out coffee and tea which are made with tap water. It's also why you should never order ice in your drink on a plane. So, what can you drink on a plane that won't make it worse? 

What to drink on a plane and remedies that can help

The air is dry on planes, and of course, you're going to be thirsty. That's okay for a short flight, but on a long one, you're going to have to drink quite a bit to counteract dehydration. First, you can bring in bottled water from the airport, despite the price point. You can also choose to bring your own water bottle and fill it at a water fountain once you pass security. If you do so, you can also bring flavor packets like Gatorade or powdered lemonade to jazz it up. If your flight is pouring water from bottles, you can drink that as well. Other things that are packaged but not carbonated, like orange or tomato juice should be just fine. Skip the alcohol as it dehydrates you.

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If you do get bloated, a few things may alleviate it. Peppermint tea has been a home remedy for tummy issues forever. That's also true for ginger. While ginger ale may not help, you can bring ginger chews, candied ginger, or ginger lollipops. Another thing that's worth a try once the bloating has started is to get up and walk around when it's safe to do so in the cabin. If it gets really bad, let a flight attendant know. One more tummy-friendly note is to choose your spot carefully if you're worried about getting motion sickness during your flight

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