Celebrating National Aviation Day

Today, August 19th, is National Aviation Day, the United States’ national observation of the development of aviation. The holiday was established in 1939 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who issued a presidential proclamation that designated the anniversary of Orville Wright’s birthday to be National Aviation Day.

Aviators help us and our personal belongings get from point A to point B. In our current times, aviation is vital in the transportation of mail, packages and goods. Without aviation professionals, our life could come to a standstill.

As an aviation dietitian, I help commercial passenger and cargo pilots manage nutrition while adhering to a 24-hour availability schedule. This schedule often misaligns meal times, which is associated with a higher incidence of hypertension and diabetes. It is important that pilots maintain optimal health to pass a rigorous medical exam every six months, known as the Federal Aviation Administration First Class Medical Certificate Exam, (FAA ME). The number one cause of FAA ME failure is hypertension with diabetes diagnosis as a close second.

When coaching pilots, I recommend dairy as one of the main ways to achieve overall health. A study published in March 2020 found that a high intake of whole fat dairy was associated with a lower prevalence of hypertension and diabetes. Dairy has also been proven to lower elevated blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose. In addition, pilots who consume dairy in-flight stave off fatigue as protein in dairy promotes higher alertness due to the thermogenic effect. Dairy also contains nutrients that help a pilot’s body operate at peak levels to ensure their cargo and passengers arrive at their destination safely.

One fun fact about dairy and traveling is that food technology has advanced many dairy products to become shelf-stable, allowing for easy packability for travel.

Jill Mongene is a Registered Dietitian specializing in aviation nutrition for commercial passenger and cargo airline pilots.  She is the owner of True Course Nutrition and is known as the Pilot Nutritionist. In her free time, you will find her spending time with her husband, a 34-year international commercial airline pilot.

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