Originally published September 13 2015
Airports begin serving nutritious functional foods to improve travelers' moods and hormone levels
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Taking a trip that involves flying – especially since 9/11 and the creation of the hapless Transportation Security Administration – is stressful, no doubt about it. Long lines, a boarding process that involves being molested by federal agents and overcrowded planes can all combine to make the experience loathsome.
With that in mind, CNN reports, some airports are taking a proactive approach to improving the flying experience, and in a rather unconventional way: through a traveler's stomach.
London's Gatwick Airport has turned to "happy meals," and no, not the kind of fat-laden fare you get from that large and famous fast-food chain. Rather, the airport is trying something clever and even revolutionary: serving food that boosts flyers' mood-enhancing hormone levels.
As CNN further reports:
Restaurants at the airport have updated their menus to include dishes designed to put travelers in a better mood. Frankie and Benny's, for example, has added a salmon citrus salad that promises to improve brain function, while Lebanese chain Comptoir's falafel and fattoush salad is meant to keeps blood sugar levels steady.
Travelers often eat poorly"There are certain foods that will help the 'happy' chemicals in your brain to keep flowing," explains nutritionist Jo Travers, with whom Gatwick officials partnered to launch the concept. "Two key players are the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, along with amino acids tryptophan and theanine, which can contribute to the creation of serotonin, known to most as 'happy hormones.'
"Low levels of these chemicals can cause fatigue in addition to lowering existing levels of serotonin. Similarly, a deficiency of Omega 3, can lead to fatigue and mood swings," she added.
Gatwick will conduct test flights for the new meals through most of September.
Raymond Kollau, founder of the travel website AirlineTrends.com, says promoting better nutrition for travelers is an idea that makes sense and has the potential to be adopted across the industry.
"Passengers traveling by air often have a long and tiring day that is filled with snacks, and making it easier for them to choose the right kind of food, promoting a light meal instead of one that is high in carbs, will make them feel better," Kollau told CNN.
"Although one always has to be skeptical about the kind of wellness claims certain foods can bring, it is also an indication how the overall quality of food and beverages offered at airports has improved over the past years," he added.
Kallau said he believes that the importance of better nutrition while flying is an idea that is gaining traction. To support his claim, he pointed to new innovations such as the FlyFit "fatigue fighting" juice range, which says it improves a person's blood flow and is currently sold at 50 airports.
"Happiness is a complex thing"In addition, there are increasing opportunities for serotonin-boosting exercises at a growing number of airports. For instance, at Amsterdam's Schiphol and Brussels Airport, passengers can recharge their cell phones using power generated from riding indoor bikes.
CNN said these kinds of innovations are welcomed by others within the industry, like Geirthrudur Alfredsdottir, a pilot with Icelandair and editor of the website FittoFly.com, which offers a range of health advice for travelers.
"There are many things people can do to be in better condition for flying," said Alfredsdottir. "They should eat light meals before, stretch and do some small exercises."
He added that the use of sleeping pills or eating greasy foods is not recommended at all because they can leave you drained and cause circulation problems which worsen when combined with cabin pressure.
"Happiness is a complex thing, but there are certain foods you can eat that will help the 'happy' chemicals in your brain to keep flowing," Travers said, according to ABC News.
Some of the foods that can make you "happier" include tuna, salmon, bananas, citrus fruits, kale and green tea, ABC News reported.
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