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Sanitation & Hygiene and Staying Healthy in India

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Sanitation & Hygiene and Staying Healthy in India

Sweeping up garbage in an Indian street.

www.flickr.com user tracyhunter
Unfortunately sanitation and hygiene is severely lacking in India, and can be the cause of many problems and illness for visitors. Some adjustment is required while traveling in India. The following information will help with staying healthy in India.

Waste in India:

India’s growing population and increasing levels of consumption have given rise to significant waste management issues. Thousands of tons of garbage are produced in India’s major cities each day and the amount of trash laying around is often shocking to visitors. The lack of garbage bins contributes a lot to the problem. Visitors should watch where they walk and, where possible, keep their trash until they find an appropriate place to dispose of it.

Pollution in India:

Pollution is also a big problem in India, especially in the major cities where air quality is very low. People with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, need to be particularly careful and should always carry medication.

Water in India:

Most of India's tap water is unfit for consumption. Restaurants will offer treated drinking water, but it’s advisable for visitors to always drink bottled water. Bottled water in India comes in two types -- packaged drinking water, and pure mineral water such as the Bisleri brand. There is a difference between them. Packaged drinking water is water that has been treated and made healthy for drinking, while mineral water has been obtained naturally at its underground source and hygienically bottled. Both are safe to drink, although mineral water is better as it's chemical free.

Food in India:

Food is often the cause of many visitors’ stomach upsets. It’s important to be careful about how it’s stored, cooked, and served. Avoid buffets and only eat freshly cooked food that’s served hot. A sign of a good restaurant is one that’s consistently filled with people. Be careful of eating washed salads, fresh fruit juice (which may be mixed with water), and ice. Many people also choose not to eat meat while in India, and instead prefer to take advantage of the wide range of vegetarian dishes on offer throughout the country. Meat eaters should avoid food from cheap restaurants and railway station vendors.

Toilets in India:

Unfortunately one of India’s major problems is its severe lack of public toilets, which is blamed for the common sight of men relieving themselves on the side of the street. In addition, the public toilets that are provided are usually dirty and not well maintained, and many of them are the “squat” variety. If you do need to go to the toilet, it’s best to head to a restaurant or hotel and use the facilities there.

Tips for Staying Healthy in India:

Make sure you bring antibacterial hand-wipes with you. You'll find that they're useful in range of situations including cleaning your hands before eating, well as when using the bathroom. When buying bottled water, make sure the seal is intact. People are known to re-use empty water bottles and fill them with tap water. It can also be helpful to take Acidophilus supplements and eat lots of yoghurt, to line the stomach and intestines with “good” bacteria.

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