What Beverage Is Better for Your Gut on a Plane?

Recently, there have been warnings about the water used to make coffee or tea on airplanes. This article examines the truth behind the claims and how to protect yourself from health concerns while flying.

What Research Says

In 2019, an analysis was released by researchers at CUNY’s Hunter College. They examined water safety data for water served to passengers on 11 major U.S. airlines. The study ranked 10 major and 13 regional airlines based on water quality provided onboard flights.

At the time of the study, nearly all regional airlines violated the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Aircraft Drinking Water Rule. This is a 2011 law requiring airlines to provide passengers and flight staff with safe drinking water.

What Steps Have Been Taken to Resolve the Issue?

Currently, reported samples were obtained from different airlines, and any violations can be seen in EPA compliance reports. This allows you to be immediately aware of any violations. For extra safety, the CUNY researchers said you should never drink water in a place that is not in a sealed bottle. They also said you should avoid coffee or tea brewed on your flight.

Is It Better to Drink Tea or Coffee?

Regardless of your choice, pay attention to what you drink while flying. You also need to ensure you don’t get dehydrated or throw off the rhythms your body is used to. According to a 2020 study published in Nutrients, you can get dehydrated faster while flying than on the ground. Exposure to cold circulating air can cause fluid shifts in your body and lead to dehydration.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three to five cups of coffee is usually fine. However, you should avoid taking alcohol while flying.

Time Zone Changes Can Disturb Your Gut

Kyle Staller, director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, said a more likely GI disturbance is when your body drops into a new time zone. He said your colon goes quiet when you are asleep and begins contracting when you wake up. This is why you experience morning bowel movements.

If you get constipated easily, Staller recommends taking fiber supplements to regulate your gut while traveling.


While traveling, you can take water to stay hydrated during the flight. You can take fiber supplements to avoid constipation.