1) Getting enough rest
I strongly believe the number one way to remain in good health in India is to stay well rested. This means not over doing it by traveling too much in one day, exerting yourself too much (in the sun) and staying up too late at night. In Ayurveda they recommend going to bed by 10pm and getting up by 6am and I find that this is really true in India.
2) Avoiding dysentery: It’s more than what you eat or drink
The tips below have proved to be very helpful for myself and readers when it comes to maintaining good health in India. Prior to writing this website, many of my friends would go to India and then get terribly sick with dysentery and parasite infection. This lead me to write a free step-by-step guide to everything you need to know about staying healthy and enjoying your time in India. As newbies to a 3rd world country, our immune systems are generally not prepared. Knowing all the tricks about drinking water, eating in India, pollution and general preventative health measures will help you stay strong so you can enjoy the incredible experiences India has to offer. Download my free ebook HERE.
3) Herbs and natural remedies
I am an advocate of prevention rather than cure. It is much easier to prevent an illness than to cure it. Luckily there are some great herbs from Maharishi Ayurveda that can help with this prevention. The herbs I recommend are:
Digest Tone (Triphala): “A mild laxative, it purifies so gently that when used over a long period of time, it allows even the deepest tissues and organs of the body to release toxins. Despite its powerful cleansing quality, it actually supports food absorption rather than depleting the body of nutrients. Organic Digest Tone promotes ojas, the finest product of digestion, which creates luster in the skin and rejuvenates vital energy.” I don’t use this herb often because I generally have good digestion but I have many friends who use it all the time. If I have overeaten or am feeling a bit sluggish this is a great herb to get your appetite back and feel strong again. It is especially useful if you have constipation which can happen in India.
Ambimap: “Ambimap possesses a multi-purpose approach to the control and cure of Diarrhoea (Atisar) and Dysenteries (Pravahika). Counteracts parasitic infection. Effectively controls spasmodic episodes & patient gets relief very quickly.” My advice is to take one tablet anytime you feel a little funny in the stomach or if you’ve just eaten or drunken something dubious. The only precaution is to watch out for constipation from this herb. My friends and I swear by this herb and if we could only bring one this would be it. Ambimap has literally saved me multiple times.
Flu Season Defense: “The herbs in Flu Season Defense: promote well-being and comfort, help balance the moisture level and mucus in the lungs and sinuses, aid digestion for decreased production of toxic food residues, help remove toxins that can weaken resistance and nourish the body’s natural defense mechanism.” My experience with this herb is that it almost always helps me prevent a cold if I take it early enough. For example if I have a slight feeling of a sore throat coming on or weak digestion then I will take one of these pills and eat light. Then within an hour or two I feel back to normal.
Amla Berry: “Amla produces total health benefits. It helps: strengthen the mind, eyes, heart, skin, and digestion, build muscle, boosts cellular regeneration, promotes a positive nitrogen balance for improved growth of muscle tissue.” This is my favorite Ayurvedic herb by far. I have been taking it continuously since 2007! It’s a tri-doshic rasayana for the entire body and especially for Pitta types like me. The vitamin C levels are super high and it just makes you feel great.
4) Foods and spices for combating amoebas
Interestingly there are many local fruits in India that are the best for helping prevent amoeba contamination. Here are few of the best ones:
Pomegranate (Hindi – Anaar): My favorite is the pomegranate because it is so sweet, delicious and does wonders for my digestion. I recommend chewing the seeds and then spitting them out. Watch out for staining your clothes. The method I use is to quarter the pomegranate and then eat it out on the grass where you can let the drips miss your clothes.
Coconut (Hindi – Nariyal): Nothing beats a fresh young coconut on a hot Indian day. This miraculous nut (or drupe) is filled with the most amazing nectar that is filled with nutrients, electrolytes and anti-dysentery qualities. It is the best thing to have after a bout of diarrhea and quenches your thirst like nothing else.
Guava (Hindi – Amarud): Guava is another really healthy fruit that grows everywhere in India. Along with being super tasty when ripe it helps prevent diarrhea, constipation, colds, and skin irritations. The trick is to wait until it is ripe and then the flavor can be out of this world.
Ginger (Hindi – Ardrak): Fresh ginger is a wonderful digestive aid that is good to have before a meal if you don’t have much appetite. Obviously you will need a knife to be able to cut and peal a piece from the stick of ginger. It’s also helpful if you have a cold to make a tea out of it and then put it in a thermos and sip throughout the day.
Obviously keeping yourself clean is essential when in India. Clean hands are a big part of staying healthy especially if you are eating with you hands. Some people use these hygienic wipes to disinfect their hands. You can get most hygiene products in India at the drug stores that are everywhere. The only thing they don’t seem to have is dental floss so I would bring that from home.
6) Avoid overeating
Overeating is easy to do but a major cause of sickness in India. According to Ayurveda, good digestion = good immunity. The only times I’ve gotten dysentery in India has been preceded by a good go at overeating. For example it was a friends birthday and so I had a big meal with about 7 Gulab Jamun’s (condensed milk soaked in a rose sugar syrup). That night I was sick and couldn’t eat anything for days afterwards.
7) Be careful of too many sweets
As you can see sweets can be a killer in India. I love them so much and do indulge regularly but it’s all about keeping moderation. Also make sure they are fresh and from a good source and avoid deep fried sweets like Jalebi.
8) Peal fruits
This goes without saying but only eat fruits that you’ve pealed yourself. If there is a fruit platter or salad I would recommend avoiding it at all costs. You don’t know who cut the fruit and with which knife or for how long has it been sitting in the open air.
9) No salad or juices
Same goes for salad and juices. The salad is washed with water that is not kosher and juices are made in juicer machines that aren’t cleaned properly. I have a friend whose gotten dysentery from a fruit juice that tested his temptations at a five star hotel.
10) Clean water
As mentioned earlier. Clean water is of utmost importance. Always drink bottled or boiled water even if the person offering you water swears it is safe and “purified”.
11) Don’t accept food from strangers
On trains and at temples and other locations there are often chances that apparently “nice” people will offer you food. Sometimes these can be dubious people who have poisoned the food so that you fall asleep and then they will take all your belongings. I like to think that this is a rare occurrence but I have heard multiple accounts of such incidents taking place.
12) Careful when visiting someones home
In India they say “guest is God.” Their hospitality is unmatched anywhere I’ve been on Earth. Often times you may be invited to a meal at a new friends house. This can be a wonderful experience, even a highlight of your trip but precaution is wise. The main thing is to not drink their water unless it is bottled and not to overeat. One time I was at a house and ate a delicious meal but ate it kind of quickly. They kept bringing more food and force feeding me chapatis. This was okay but then dessert came along and I decided to decline. Next thing I know the father of the house is force-spoon-feeding me a Gulab Jamun! The only way I survived this was by taking an “Ambimap” pill as soon as I could after the meal. So the moral of the story is to eat slooooow so that the host can bring you more food without you eating like there’s no tomorrow.
13) Electrolytes – hydration
As mentioned earlier in this post, hydration is definitely an issue. Drink plenty especially if you’re outside in the sun. You may need 2 to 3 liters per day to stay at normal hydration levels. I recommend also having electrolytes in your water from time to time to make sure you are absorbing the water. With that said nothing beats the quality of hydration from the electrolyte rich young coconuts but sometimes they aren’t available or are not clean enough to trust. I recommend getting electrolytes from Amazon.com before you go because the ones available in India are usually low quality and taste bad.
14) Sun protection
The Indian sun can be very intense even in the Winter time. I have very sensitive skin and could get burnt within 20 minutes! So I wear light colored, long sleeved shirts to avoid too much direct contact with the sun. A broad brimmed hat goes a long way, sunglasses, and sun screen if you like to use that. Obviously avoiding the midday sun from 10am ’til 4pm is a great way to minimize your risks of getting sunburned and sunstroke.