Food Babe

Crazy on stilts!

Emily Finke posted this on Facebook. Thanks, Emily. Just when I thought crazy had maxed out, you put the spotlight on this. It’s a page cached on Google, and it appears to have come from an actual site called Food Babe. Now I learn that Food Babe is the blog of Vani Hari:

Vani Hari, also known on her blog as the Food Babe, is an American blogger known for her criticism of the food industry. She has gathered over 350,000 signatures via petitions pressuring food companies to remove ingredients from their products or change their production processes. Companies including Kraft, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, and Subway have changed or reconsidered ingredients in their products as a result of her campaigns. She has been frequently criticised for promoting pseudoscientific claims and beliefs in her work.

[Some links deleted]

Think the critique is a bit strong. You may get a better idea after reading a post from apparently 23 August 2011:

This is Google’s cache of http://foodbabe.com/2011/08/23/no-reason-to-panic-on-the-plane/. It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Nov 10, 2014 21:01:32 GMT – See more at: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Ffoodbabe.com%2F2011%2F08%2F23%2Fno-reason-to-panic-on-the-plane%2F#sthash.ZtonmYFq.dpuf

Food Babe Travel Essentials – No Reason to Panic on the Plane!

I’m on the plane to LAX, the first leg en route to our first stop – Tokyo! I can’t think of a better time or place to write this article.

Airplane travel, is unfortunately (and fortunately!) a big part of my way of life. I’d be surprised if you added up the amount of travel I have conducted for work and personal if it didn’t end up being a full year of my life. For this reason, I set out to find out exactly the best strategies to keep your body energized, free of aliments, and flying high when you are on the bird!

A few facts about what airplanes do to your body –

When your body is in the air, at a seriously high altitude, your body under goes some serious pressure. Just think about it – Airplanes thrive in places we don’t. You are traveling in a pressurized cabin, and when your body is pressurized, it gets really compressed!

Compression leads to all sorts of issues. First off your body’s digestive organs start to shrink, taxing your ability to digest large quantities of food. Secondly, this compression reduces the ability for your body to normally circulate blood through your blood vessels. Sitting down for long hours while this is happening, exacerbates these issues, leading to what they call “Economy Class Syndrome.” Economy Class Syndrome results the action of sitting in a cramped space for a long period of time, thus resulting in blood flow loss to the legs. A unhealthy person or someone who eats a poor diet, smokes, has heart disease, diabetes or an auto-immune disorder has a larger risk of developing DVT, which basically causes a blood clot in your one of your large veins in your leg and you risk death.

Additionally, the pressurized cabin reduces the humidity by 40% of what humans typically thrive at. The Sahara Desert has more humidity at ~25% than your airplane does at ~10%. Remember your body is made up of 50% water, if the humidity is reduced by 40%, your body becomes very dehydrated, very quickly and usually without you feeling the effects until after you get off the plane. Dehydration causes all sorts of issues from fatigue, headaches, constipation, light headedness and even death in extreme cases.

The air you are breathing on an airplane is recycled from directly outside of your window. That means you are breathing everything that the airplanes gives off and is flying through. The air that is pumped in isn’t pure oxygen either, it’s mixed with nitrogen, sometimes almost at 50%. To pump a greater amount of oxygen in costs money in terms of fuel and the airlines know this! The nitrogen may affect the times and dosages of medications, make you feel bloated and cause your ankles and joints swell.

Did you know certain countries require that airplanes and even passengers be sprayed with pesticide before they take off? This means if you are visiting one of these countries you are breathing in these fumes potentially all flight, especially if they were sprayed on board. Horrific!

Ok enough horror facts about airplane travel (especially while I am flying right now!)…Here’s my Food Babe tips on what you can do to avoid and/or protect yourself of all the facts I mentioned above.

Food Babe’s Tips: First Class Airplane Tips for your Body

Before you Fly:

  1. Choose a seat as close to the front as possible. Pilots control the amount of airflow and it is is always better in their cabin.
  2. Eat a light meal or fast, it is better to digest as much of your food as possible before getting on the plane
  3. Exercise! You reduce your risk of developing DVT dramatically and you will also improve your body’s circulation ability
  4. Drink at least 16 ounces of water before your flight, and limit alcohol and caffeine
  5. Bring your own food. Airport and airplane food is overly processed and contains more GMO, pesticides, MSG, and chemicals than can make your head spin! Bring circulation enhancing foods! Some great ones that are easy to travel with are dark chocolate, blueberries, grapes, oranges, avocados, ginger, and pumpkin seeds.
  6. Don’t forget to pack an empty water bottle to be filled at the airport, or to buy water before your flight. I like to bring at least 32 ounces of extra water with me on any flight.
    I can’t tell you how many times the airlines have been stingy giving me water (even in First Class!)
  7. Ask your Acupuncturist or Nauropath for herbs that can help prevent you from contracting colds, flus and other viruses through the recycled air
  8. The following two things are a must for international flights! Moisturizer and a little spray bottle of evian spritzer can do wonders in rehydrating your skin on long flights.

In Flight:

  1. Drink 8 ounces of water for every hour of flying time
  2. If you experience a headache, pains or aches, think about using turmeric, garlic or willow bark which are all natural alternatives to aspirin
  3. Fast or eat small light carbohydrate rich whole foods. Limit any heavy dairy or protein rich foods. Whole grain carbohydrates are better tolerated than proteins at a high altitude.
  4. Do not drink alcohol or caffeine on long flights
  5. Walk or stretch every 30 mins while in flight, if you can’t get up from your seat, rotate your ankles and raise your arms over your head to stretch
  6. Keep your hands clean with natural hand sanitizer spray and avoid touching your face as much as possible
  7. Don’t forget to take your natural herbs that can strengthen your immune system

After your Flight:

  1. Continue to drink 8 ounces of water every hour
  2. Aim to do at least 15 mins of yoga or other form of exercise
  3. Consider getting a massage, which as been known to reduce jet lag
  4. Continue eating circulation enhancing foods
  5. As soon as you can – swim, take a shower and/or a steam bath to rehydrate your skin

Exercise before the plane: Check!

Now that you have read all of that:

Let’s compare the nonsense with the facts:

  • “You are traveling in a pressurized cabin, and when your body is pressurized, it gets really compressed!” Fact: Airliner cabin pressure is maintained at the 8000-foot level. As the aircraft ascends the pressure is allowed to drop. When the altitude exceeds 8000 feet the cabin is pressurized from air taken from the engine compressors. While flying in an airliner your body is not compressed. It’s at less pressure than it was at the airport (unless you got on the plane at La Paz).
  • “Additionally, the pressurized cabin reduces the humidity by 40% of what humans typically thrive at.” Fact: The airliner compensates for the lack of humidity by adding moisture to the air that’s pumped into the cabin.
  • “The Sahara Desert has more humidity at ~25% than your airplane does at ~10%.” Fact: Humidity in the Sahara rarely exceeds 30%. It’s typically at 4% to 5%. Airliner cabin humidity is kept low—in the 10% range. This is about typical of a day in Tuscon, Arizona. You stay hydrated by drinking water during the flight.
  • “The air you are breathing on an airplane is recycled from directly outside of your window. That means you are breathing everything that the airplanes gives off and is flying through.” Fact: See the above. Cabin air comes from the engine compressors. It’s as clean as any fresh air you will find in nature.
  • “The air that is pumped in isn’t pure oxygen either, it’s mixed with nitrogen, sometimes almost at 50%.” Fact: Air, at sea level, at 40,000 feet, is 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, plus carbon dioxide, argon and other trace gases. That’s what you get from the engine compressors.
  • “Choose a seat as close to the front as possible. Pilots control the amount of airflow and it is is always better in their cabin.” Fact: The entire cabin gets the same air. Sitting up front will not get you better air.

There is enough bullshit in the foregoing to question anything else from the Food Babe. Vani Hari has done all women a disservice by tagging her blog as “Food Babe.” This kind of thing wants to give the impression that “babe” is associated with “airhead.” Don’t fall for it. I know lots of babes, and they are not airheads.

Sources:

24 thoughts on “Food Babe

  1. This post is flawed. Aircraft cabins are pressurize “at 10 000ft”. That means that the pressure experienced in an aircraft cabin is similar to being outside at 10 000 ft above sea level. air pressure decreases as altitude increases so, in other words, unless you live at or above 10 000ft above sea level, your body is experiencing *less* pressure in an aircraft cabin than it would at home. there is no evidence to support organs shrinking and not being able to digest food as well in an aircraft cabin. paying attention to hydration and moving around are good suggestions.

  2. I will stick with the 8000 feet. Multiple sources, including Boeing’s promo for the 787, cite 8000 feet. Besides, at 10,000 feet the pilots have to go on oxygen. If the cabin were pressurized at 10,000 feet the pilots would be on oxygen continuously.

    Yes, passengers bodies are experiencing less pressure than at ground. That’s the point of my post. It’s Food Babe’s post (which I am quoting) that’s flawed. That’s what my post is about.

  3. I fly the Airbus A330. 8000 ft is correct (straight from the Airbus Flight Crew Operating Manual). Cabin pressure is maintained after takeoff in accordance with a preprogrammed pressure schedule which is obviously somewhat less than the rate of climb of the aircraft, until it reaches cruise altitude. At maximum cruise altitude the cabin pressure in an A330 cannot exceed 8000ft and this is a typical figure (plus or minus a bit) for most big jets. This equates to a pressure differential of around 8 psi. If the differential goes above 8.85 psi, safety valves open to dump excess cabin pressure.

  4. Pingback: Adventures in Blogging | Skeptical Analysis

  5. Pingback: Air Head « Tetherd Cow Ahead

  6. Correction: Starbucks quite rightly ignored her and her so-called “army” of drones she sent to harass them, although I’ve no doubt that she has, at some point, declared victory there. I do believe she also encouraged those same drones to go up against Land o’ Lakes (in conjunction with GMOInsider) to harass them about “GMO butter”. Like Starbucks, LOL totally ignored those people.

  7. I read the article and I think I just had an aneurysm. It’s almost like reading the Onion where it’s so far off base that it’s funny. But then you realize she believes this stuff (and so do her drones) and then you feel the impending apocalypse.

    • She seems to be totally clueless regarding some basic science and also basic facts about airplanes and flying. She seems in this case to just be making stuff up without doing any study. People may rightly conclude she does not have knowledge about the other topics she discusses, particularly with regard to food, proper eating and health.

  8. Pingback: Episode 190: Snakeoil on a Plane | Cognitive Dissonance the Podcast

  9. I fly all over the world. There are a LOT of things I am very very glad that they disinfect airline cabins for: chiggers, lice, scabies.. just to name a few. This Food Babe person is an idiot and has clearly never dealt with the genuine horror of picking up a parasitic skin infection from public facilities. Hand me my can of permethrin!!!

  10. Pingback: The Food Babe tries (and fails) to thwart skeptics with technology | Skeptical Software Tools

  11. Another minor correction: Cabin air is NOT bled from the engine compressors. Engine bleed air is generally used to run an Air Turbine Motor (ATM) that runs a secondary compressor for the A/C-Pressurization system. The cabin A/C uses air ducted into the system from ports in the fuselage well away from the engines. Hot bleed air is run through a heat exchanger (radiator) to heat the air going into the cabin if required.

  12. Pingback: Episode 200b: Guesticulation, Part 2

  13. Pingback: Episode 190: Snakeoil on a Plane

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.