Uplink ALPA - The Voice of Aviation

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter.

Nutrition tips for healthy aviators


NUTRITION TIPS FOR HEALTHY AVIATORS

The food you put in your body is one of the most important decisions you make every day – but it’s often done without much thought or consideration.

Different foods have astounding effects on the human body, so it’s crucial that you’re fueling up with only the best, especially when you’re constantly concentrating and need to perform at your very best.

Vegetables and fruit

For many nutritionists, the traditional food pyramid has been turned on its head. Now fruits and vegetables are sitting at the top – and should reign over your diet.

It can be quick and easy to make sure you’re getting enough vegetables – even if you’re on the go. Airport restaurants and takeaways have a variety of healthy options available, with salads a popular choice. Try a salad or soup before settling on a sandwich though, as bread is a starchy food, and the commercial varieties have little nutritional benefits except filling you up.

Don’t be afraid of complex carbs

The best complex carbohydrates come from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. These are natural carbs that your body uses for energy, and aren’t packed with artificial sugars like cereals and bread.

Having a balanced diet that consists of complex carbs in your diet will leave you feeling energised and you’ll avoid that sluggish feeling on an afternoon shift (or on a long flight), because they are slowly released into your bloodstream.

Try having some nuts and seeds as a snack on your next flight, or during your next shift, they’ll keep your energy levels up and keep you fuller for longer.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are mostly found in colourful fruit and vegetables, and help protect your body’s cellular structure. Antioxidants help prevent or stop cell damage caused by oxidants, or free radicals, that are found in the wider environment, as well as produced in your body.

Vegetables and legumes high in antioxidants include red cabbage, beans, spinach and kale – just to name a few. Be creative at home and for a quick meal just add a bit of meat to those vegetables and you’ve got a healthy and delicious stir-fry.

Antioxidants are even found in the skins of some foods, like apples, potatoes, or grapes. So when you can, eat them with the skin on!

How much caffeine is too much?

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of sipping on a good cup of coffee, but what are the real ups and downs of having a few cups a day? Along with coffee, black and green teas contain antioxidants which are actually beneficial for our health.

However, caffeine can lead to dehydration and restless sleep. If you’re drinking more than four cups a day, it’s recommended that you cut back.

Did you know that apples are more effective in making you feel more awake than a cup of coffee? It’s the natural sugar (fructose) in an apple that wakes up the body – and is the healthier alternative to that teaspoon of sugar in your coffee.

The natural sugar gives you an energy boost and you won’t feel the effects or sluggishness like you do when a coffee wears off.

There’s no substitute for H2O

With water making up 60 percent of the average human body, it’s essential that we stay hydrated.

Water is the obvious option to keep your fluids up. There are a lot of other options out there, but are they actually benefitting your body?

Fruit juices, while containing key nutrients like vitamin C, are considerably high in sugar, but even higher are soft drinks and energy drinks – both contain mostly sugar and have no nutritional value.

Sticking to water will provide you with the most benefits, and research shows that your brain responds to the amount of hydration in your system. Water can even prevent pesky headaches, which are often caused by dehydration (like too many cups of coffee).

It’s all about getting the balance right to ensure we feel our best - not only when you’re flying the skies or in the control tower - but so you can get the rest you need when your feet are on the ground.

Resources:

https://nutritionfoundation.org.nz/nutrition-facts/nutrition-a-z/Antioxidants

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20045678

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/benefits-of-complex-carbs-and-the-best-ones-to-eat/

https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/healthy-living/eating-drinking/h/healthy-heart-visual-food-guide/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-health-benefits-of-water#section5

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