Taking Care of Your Health While Traveling in India

By: B. K. Vijay

India’s vibrant culture, tradition and heritage often attracts people from all over the world. If you are planning to visit some destinations in India like Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Cochin, Calcutta or any part of India, you need to take certain precautions to stay healthy and safe.

You must be aware that, India is a tropical country with diverse climate features and there are chances of you being exposed to a variety of germs, bacteria and viruses. You need to protect yourself by taking healthy food choices. Following are some useful tips to stay healthy and avoid falling sick when you are in India.

Food – What to eat and what to avoid

  • Avoid eating raw vegetables and fruits: Most restaurants and food joints in India use municipal water (water supplied by local government) to wash vegetables and fruits. The water supplied by municipal corporations can be contaminated as the water quality can degrade by chemical reactions during the transit of water. It is, therefore, advisable not to eat raw fruits or vegetables.
  • Eat freshly cooked food served steaming hot: In foreign countries people are used to cold meals, but it is better to prefer steaming hot food in India. If you want to try out a dish in India, make sure you ask the concerned person to serve it fresh and the food has to be boiled. When the food is fresh and boiled, there are less chance of food borne diseases like Cholera, Hepatitis A, Salmonellosis and Campylobacteriosis.

  • Avoid eating at street vendors: In India you will find many push cart vendors selling watermelon slices, mango slices/juice, cucumber slices, fruit salads, etc., on the roadside, you may be tempted to try, but it is better to avoid because we can’t guarantee the quality and hygiene at these places. There are chances of the food being contaminated.
  • Avoid eating spicy food: Indians like to add spices in many of their dishes and these spices are generally hot and spicy. If you are at a restaurant or at a food joint, ask the chef to make the dish less spicy. Eating spicy food may leave burning sensation inside the mouth, causes blisters on the lips, ulcers and stomach problems.
  • Avoid buffets: In many restaurants in India, yesterday’s unsold food will be served in the morning breakfast and lunch buffets. Unless you have a good review for hygiene of a restaurant from ‘Lonely Planet’, don’t take the risk. Stick to what is recommended because you will be sure on the hygienic conditions of the restaurants.
  • Eat at international food chains: KFC, McDonald’s, Subway, etc., are available across India. You can try out your meal at these joints.
  • Avoid yogurt products: In India, many restaurants offer yogurt with a food dish. There are chances of yogurt containing bacteria. Contamination in dairy products like paneer (cottage cheese), cheese, milk, etc., cannot be fixed, so it’s better to avoid them.

Beverages – What to drink and what to avoid
When traveling in India, you need to be very careful in choosing beverages, as they may be contaminated. Take a look at some of the beverages to avoid.

  • Avoid drinking tap water: As discussed earlier, water is supplied by municipal corporations and it may not be safe to consume; because it is not purified, you may fall sick.
  • Drink only bottled water: Go for reputed brands like Bisleri, Kinley, Aquafina, Himalayan or Bailey’s, and check whether the cap is sealed.
  • Avoid ice cubes: Better not to add ice cubes in drinks/juices, as the purity of the water used for making the ice cubes is not guaranteed.

Avoid drinking milk, lassi (spiced and sweetened yogurt), fruit juices, cold yogurt, etc., at restaurants or on the street.

Coconut water is good for re-hydrating your body, however, the sickle is likely to be contaminated. So, don’t drink coconut water unless you see the sickle washed properly.

Hope, this information helps you while you are in India. Have a wonderful vacation!