Edited by Peter
I was going to leave the blogger and food activist Vani Deva Hari AKA the Food Babe alone for a while. This is because recently I have published quite a lot of things about her and felt that I might be giving off the impression that I am a bit of a bully. But whilst researching her claims that some beers contain the same ingredient as airplane de-icers for a recent video, I came across something the Food Babe has desperately tried to hide from her audience because it shows them, no matter their level of scientific understanding, that she does not have a clue.
Back in 2011 the Food Babe published a blog post which she has since deleted called ‘Food Babe Travel Essentials – No Reason to Panic on the Plane!’ but as we all know nothing is truly deleted from the internet. The post is by far one of her strangest but it is also incredibly revealing. This is because for the first time we are seeing her true level of knowledge, paranoia, and lack of common sense. This is because she wrote this in a vacuum, isolated from the internet and those who would correct her. You see, she wrote this post as she was flying from Los Angeles to Tokyo and presumably did not have any internet to fact check any of the claims she was making – and boy oh boy does it make for an interesting read.
The food babe starts her post by telling us a “few facts about what airlines 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 travelling in a pressurized cabin, and when your body is pressurized, it gets really compressed!
It is true that the airplane cabins are pressurised compared to the outside when they are at cruising altitude but they are still lower than at sea level. According to the World Health Organisation, at typical cruising altitudes in the range of 11,000 – 12,200m, air pressure in the cabin is equivalent to the outside air pressure at 1800-2400m above sea level.
You can even check this for yourself the next time you are flying. Simply open then closes an empty plastic bottle whilst you are at crusing altitude and watch as it gets crushed by the pressure at ground level as you land. In fact the Food Babe herself must have experienced this on the very flight that she wrote this post, as in it she tells people to bring an empty water bottle to fill up or to buy one before flying. This water bottle would have become pressurised as the cabin pressure dropped.
Don’t forget to pack an empty water bottle to be filled at the airport, or to buy water before your flight.
I do know that this is a silly little mistake that I am sure many people have made after hearing that aircraft cabins are pressurised, but it leads onto something so incorrect it’s really hard to know where to start.
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.
After reading this, I am not sure where the Food Babe would like the air in the cabin to come from if not from outside. I know this is bit of a straw man but is she really thinking that airplanes should carry their own oxygen source? Also you are not breathing in anything the airplane gives off, but it is true that the primary air supply in nearly all modern commercial aircrafts originates in their engines . Inside, the air is compressed before being used for combustion to power the aircraft forwards. Some of this compressed air is rerouted before it can be used in combustion to provide breathable air for the passengers. Before this can happen it is first cooled by heat exchangers and air conditioners and then passed through HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, which can be up to 99.999% efficient at removing all known viruses and bacteria from the air. This air is then mixed with recirculated air making it easier to regulate the temperature and help maintain humidity. This air, like air at sea level, is not, as I presume the Food Babe is implying, pure oxygen. This, as all good chemists know, is a good thing because in an atmosphere of pure oxygen, things burn really quickly.
The Earth atmosphere is composed of approximately 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.9% argon, 0.03% carbon dioxide and trace amounts of other gasses. Looking past the hilarity which is the Food Babe’s lack of basic scientific knowledge, how does she expect airlines to filter out oxygen? and how would this be cheaper? Surely it would cost more to filter out the oxygen from the air they are pumping in rather then just say…….. pump it in. As for the claim that nitrogen may affect the time and dosages of medications etc. I am sure she pulled that out of her arse, unless she is talking about hypoxia, in which case feeling bloated will be the least of your concerns. But fear not, as the Food Babe has advice on how to get more oxygen.
Choose a seat as close to the front as possible. Pilots control the amount of airflow and it is always better in their cabin.
One of the last things I would like to talk about is something that I have experienced recently when I flew back from Malaysia. Before the aircraft took off, the cabin crew walked up and down the aisles spraying an insecticide which I have to admit was a little over powering.
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!
This is ignoring the fact that the air in the cabin of commercial airlines is usually completely replaced every few minutes – for example in an Airbus A340-300 the cabin air is completely replaced every two minutes. I, unlike the Food Babe, did not assume the worst and was genuinely curious as to why this happened. According the WHO, the reason why it was sprayed is that many countries require disinfection of aircraft arriving from countries where diseases that are spread by insects, such as malaria and yellow fever, occur. Put simply, it’s to prevent the spread of rather nasty diseases and the WHO has not found any evidence that the specified insecticides used are harmful to human health.
What this all boils down to is credibility and the Food Babe has exposed herself here to the average person as not being very knowledgeable on basic scientific facts and lacks common sense. And if she is so wrong about the aviation industry and the composition of the atmosphere, then they might think she is wrong about the following said in the same blog post.
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!
Ask your Acupuncturist or Naturopath for herbs that can help prevent you from contracting colds, flus and other viruses through the recycled air
If you experience a headache, pains or aches, think about using turmeric, garlic or willow bark which are all natural alternatives to aspirin
Don’t forget to take your natural herbs that can strengthen your immune system
Consider getting a massage, which has been known to reduce jet lag
Continue eating circulation enhancing foods