India is a place of wonder, a place of adventure and spiritual awakening. It is the ancient birthplace of ayurveda, and it is the source of the high-quality herbs used in vpk® by Maharishi Ayurveda formulas. Staying healthy as a Western tourist in India can be a challenge. I know this from traveling there seven times over the past eight years. The first three visits I contracted dysentery and was cooped up in bed for at least five days each time.
After receiving great advice from more experienced India travelers, knowing what to bring to India, and applying the principles of Maharishi Ayurveda, I am happy to report that I have not been sick once in my past four trips.
Here are my top tips for staying healthy while traveling in India using Maharishi Ayurveda:
1) Don’t overeat
As simple as it may sound, in my experience, overeating is the #1 cause of getting sick in India. We know from ayurveda that it is ideal to eat to 75% of capacity, and this can’t be more true than when in India. Since our Western immune systems aren’t used to the bacteria present in India, it is important that we don’t tax our systems from overeating. In fact, every time I’ve gotten sick in India, it was preceded by overeating.
2) Take Bio-Immune and Cold Weather Defense
Bio-Immune strengthens immunity by eliminating toxins that weaken the immune system. It also helps reduce stress and promotes healthy liver function. I have found this formulation to be very helpful while traveling in India.
Cold Weather Defense is amazing at helping clear the lungs and sinuses. Since India is one of the most polluted places in the world, it is important to strengthen your lungs to help your body deal with the sometimes-extreme toxicity present in India.
3) Stay well rested
A major way to stay healthy in India is to get enough rest. This means not exerting oneself too much by traveling for too many hours in one day, spending too much time in the hot sun, or simply staying up too late at night. In ayurveda, sleep is one of the pillars of health, and it’s recommended to go to bed by 10:00 p.m. and arise in the morning by 6:00 a.m., or sunrise, whichever is earlier. This couldn’t be more true in India.
4) Eat only cooked food — avoid salads and juices
Cooking kills all the microbes that may be present in the food and water. Additionally, cooked food is generally easier to digest than raw food. I recommend one avoid eating any salads or fresh juices while in India, because inevitably there may be some contaminated water involved. Even in the 5-star hotels, I’ve seen a friend suffer after drinking some irresistible juice.
5) Drink high-quality water exclusively, and stay well-hydrated
The water from the tap is almost always unsafe to drink and may be contaminated with coliforms, amoebas, heavy metals such as arsenic, and other pollutants. Therefore, I suggest one drink only bottled water or water that has been through a thorough purification process.
Staying well-hydrated is an obvious principle of ayurveda that should certainly be followed in the mostly hot, dry climate of India. One can add lemon and salt to the water for extra electrolytes, and of course avoiding cold drinks helps too. Definitely don’t put ice in your drinks because, again, the water that was used to create the ice isn’t trustworthy.
6) Enjoy some local fruits for strengthening natural immunity
It is great to know that some of the best Indian fruits also help prevent getting “Delhi Belly.” One thing to be careful of is, when you peel the fruit, be sure you have a clean knife and clean the fruit itself, as the water used previously to clean it may have been contaminated. Here are a few of my favorite fruits available almost everywhere in India:
Coconut water: Enjoying the water of a fresh, young coconut is incomparable on a hot day in India. This magical water is a most satisfying and delicious nectar, and it also inherently has electrolytes and anti-dysentery qualities. In ayurveda it’s also known as a “mahamedhya,” which means a great rasayana (or nourisher) for the mind.
Pomegranate: A fresh pomegranate is so sweet and comforting for the digestive system. Actually there is a saying in India, “ek anar saw bimar!” which is translated to, “One pomegranate for one hundred diseases.” It is a prized tridoshic (balancing to all three doshas — Vata, Pitta and Kapha) fruit that shouldn’t be missed. The only precaution with pomegranate is being careful not to stain your clothes!
Guava: Another deliciously healthy fruit that grows almost everywhere in India. This tasty fruit helps prevent diarrhea, constipation, colds and skin irritations. The important thing is to wait until it’s ripe, and then the taste is other-worldly.
India is a wonderful place to visit. For Westerners, we just have to be mindful of our health in order to derive the most enjoyment out of the journey. I am so thankful for knowing these principles of Maharishi Ayurveda, and I recommend you try them on your next trip to India.
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