So here are 7 absolutely essential health tips for travelers in India. You might wanna open your tablet notes for this one because this is going to be important; right now or over the course of terrible diarrhea in a cramped lavatory. You can take your call, really!
1. Packing Essentials
There are a few things you must absolutely pack in your backpack for staying healthy in India.
- Vitamins and Protein Supplements : Indians do have a fair share of vitamins and proteins and minerals and basically everything else that you can imagine in their staple palate. But whether you and the local Indian palate will get along is the main point of concern. Since it is going to be your first time in India and you can literally forget beef and pork in most of the Indian eateries, it is better that you carry your dietary supplements lest you wanna return to your homeland like a battered Chihuahua.
- Every Insect Repellent You Possibly Can : India is a developing nation and our problems in population control has far reached beyond the human race; insects are ubiquitous too. Mosquitoes will be the highlight of the thriving insect community here. So lots and lots of mosquito repellents must find their space in your luggage.
- Hand Sanitizer : When in India, wash your hands frequently, and I mean OCD frequently. You never know what dirty thing you just touched which is gonna leave you sick in the next few hours. So just be proactive and wash your hands as much as you can. And of course, that requires water and you might not find clean water to do the same on a variety of occasions, so the hand sanitizer will be your savior. Before a meal, after eating, after using a lavatory, after embarking from a crowded bus, after flipping out the old saint’s beard; basically all the time!
- Dental Floss : This might sound a little weird but Indians just don’t seem to get around with the idea of dental floss and we have resorted to toothpicks (a half-hearted thin woody alternative of floss). You might not like using toothpicks like the people here, so better carry your floss around.
- Toilet Paper : Well, fables have it, Indians and toilet paper don’t go around. As a country that is just getting comfortable with western toilet seats, toilet papers of any kind are a far lingering possibility. But believe it or not, toilet papers are actually less sanitary than the Indian ways of using water sprays. Don’t believe me? Check out this link.
2. Water Can Literally Make or Break Your Trip
I am not even gonna state all the ways in which dirty water can make you really sick. You just need to be aware that in India, being careful about potable water is a must even for the locals. First things first, you will not find the general choice between still and sparkling water here. Indians literally never consume sparkling water per se, so all you have is still water. But there are two kinds of still water you get here, the waiters will probably give you the options as- regular or mineral. Always go for the mineral or bottled water, you can really not trust the source of the regular water people offer you here. Not just in restaurants, wherever you go in India, this must be your rule of thumb. It is definitely clean and will not mess up your belly. And of course, as a direct conclusion, never ask for ice in your drinks because again, you don’t know which water was used to make that ice in the first place. Basically in India, be content with chilled mineral water bottles.
3. Use a Straw
You can’t even trust the containers of any drink being offered in India as there might have been tons of flies buzzing around that drink recently. So it is better to consume the least amount of beverages (like ‘fresh juices’, smoothies etc that the vendor swore he made out of his finest fruits!) and use a straw whenever you are having one.
4. Fruits Are Not Always Healthy
While your mind might tell you that the best way to stay healthy in India is to consume healthy food like fruits, consuming the wrong kind of fruits can have adverse effects on your health. The general rule should be to consume fruits with a natural covering; like bananas and pistachios must be preferable over apples and cashews. Anything that has a natural shell is more likely to be palatable than something that doesn’t. But it’s not like you need to eliminate all other fruits entirely from your diet. There are ways to be smart about fruit shopping too. Indian vendors often sell waxed fruits (a fruit that has a thin wax coating on its surface), so you must specifically ask for unwaxed fruits. Once you have bought it, it’s a good idea to gently scrape it with a small knife and if it still has some wax, you will be able to see it coming right off. In that case, peel off all the wax, wash the fruit with bottled water and then consume it. Finally, if something looks too good to be true, it really is the case. Cherry red apples and stark coloured oranges might have artificial colouring additives in them, so always purchase more believable, natural fruits; or just follow the brilliant indian housewife found in every indian market and go parallel with her shopping. Trust me, they know it all!
5. The Correct Restaurant Is Gonna Be Your Noah’s Ark
Indians are literally crazy about food; it forms an essential part of their life and culture, so you will have a myriad of dining options to choose from. There are banquet dining halls in five-star hotels, local restaurants, cafes, multinational food chains and of course our good old street vendors. There are literally a million things you can try so making the right choice becomes crucial.
- If you bruise like a peach and fall sick quickly (you know who you are!) you might as well steer clear of Delhi Belly and go for the certified neat places, the high-end restaurants and banquets in a star-studded hotels (Howdy, million dollar backpacker!) and the multinational food chains. McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Burger King and KFC are literally going to be your saviors in finding affordable, familiar and most importantly ‘clean’ food in India.