Category “Health & Lifestyle”

India: Things you need to be aware of to look after your health

India, located in South Asia, is full of amazing places to see from the natural astounding Himalayas to one of the newly voted seven wonders, the Taj Mahal. India’s economy is growing at a fast rate but still throughout India there is a lot of poverty, deprivation and limited public health services. But don’t let this put you off a trip to India, here are some things you need to be aware of to look after your health whilst in India.

Vaccinations

Make sure that you visit your health care provider at least 6 weeks prior to your trip to India to get any vaccinations you might require. Many countries recommend different vaccinations but the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following vaccinations for travellers going to India to look after their health.

Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR vaccine) – Ensure you are up to date with these vaccines which you may have had as a child.

Adult diphtheria & tetanus – Single booster recommended if none in the previous 10 years.

Hepatitis A – This vaccine will protect you for up to a year and then, following a booster after 12 months, you will have protection for another 20 years.

Hepatitis B – If you are a frequent traveller you might have already had this as this is now routine for most travel.

Polio – You will have most likely had this vaccination as a child. You require one booster as an adult for lifetime protection.

Typhoid – Recommended for everyone travelling to India and also a lot of other areas in the world. This is required every 2-3 years to maintain protection whilst travelling.

Varicella – You may require this vaccination if you have not had chickenpox.

If you are planning on travelling in India for longer than one month then you might want to consider these vaccinations:

Japanese B encephalitis – This is a total of three injections in all and a booster after two years.

Meningitis – This is recommended for backpackers under the age of 25.

Rabies – This is given over three injections. You are also able to have treatment if you get bitten. However, it is complicated to do this whilst travelling. Recommended if you are going to be in close contact with animals whilst travelling in India.

Tuberculosis (TB) – Only one vaccine is given in a lifetime so you may have already had this.

When travelling to India from Africa/South America:

Yellow Fever – This is the only vaccine that you have to have by international regulations. You need to have proof of this if you have been in South America or Africa six days prior to entering India.

Water

To look after your health whilst in India, it is not advisable to drink the tap water or clean your teeth with it. Buy bottled water but make sure the seal is intact so you know it has not been refilled. Avoid ice in your drinks, uncooked fruits and salads which have been washed in tap water or fruit drinks which have been watered down with tap water. Boiling of water is usually the most efficient way of purifying it to make sure it is safe to drink. Also look at water filters such as products like Lifestraw and be aware that as per the European Union (EU) directive, iodine is no longer to be used to disinfect drinking water.

Food

It is difficult to stop the risks from contaminated foods, but there are food types that you can avoid to reduce any risk to your health whilst in India. Some of these foods are:

  • Salads and uncooked fruit and vegetables unless washed or peeled by you.
  • Raw or undercooked meat, fish or shellfish, including oysters.
  • Fresh or cooked food such as buffets that have been left uncovered.
  • Unpasteurised dairy products, like milk, cheese, ice cream and yoghurt.

A lot of people avoid food from street traders in India as they are worried about the effect on their health. However, if you can see it being cooked in front of you and it is served on clean plates then this should not be too much of a problem. Make sure you go to a street trader that is busy with locals. It is a sign of a good meal. This is something to stick by when visiting restaurants too.

Make sure that when you are travelling long term that you still eat healthily. Sometimes when you are in another culture with different food types, this can be difficult but it is important you eat a balanced diet and foods which will leave you energised to see all the amazing sites of India.

Travellers’ diarrhoea

Traveller’s diarrhoea is defined as the passage of more than three watery bowel movements within 24 hours, plus another symptom, such as nausea, vomiting, fever, cramps, or feeling generally unwell. This is by far the most common problem affecting travellers health in India. By using the advice above about food and water, you can help avoid this. You can also reduce your risk by avoiding meat and fish during your time.

If you are suffering from travellers diarrhoea when travelling in India, you can improve your health by staying well hydrated using a rehydration sachet. Try not to use an antidiarrheal unless completely necessary, as this will keep the bugs in your body for longer. If the symptoms become too bad or you have blood in your stools, then seek medical advice about taking antibiotics.

Mosquitos

Malaria – Malaria is a serious and potentially deadly disease. Seek advice prior to travel as antimalarials may be required depending on the area you are visiting whilst in India. The most common symptom of malaria is fever, but you may also get headaches, diarrhoea and cold-like symptoms.

Dengue Fever – this is a mosquito-borne which is endemic in over 100 countries around the world. Symptoms include; high fever, muscle and joint pains, headache, nausea, vomiting and rash. Treatment is to ease the symptoms rather than cure the Dengue Fever and in most cases, Dengue Fever will cure itself leading to natural immunity. Taking paracetamol and plenty of rest will help. However, concerns are that severe cases of Dengue Fever can lead to death, therefore, seek medical advice in the more serious cases.

To reduce your risks of Malaria and Dengue Fever, try and prevent getting bitten by mosquitos. Use a DEET-based insect repellent on the exposed skin especially at dawn and dusk when the female mosquito is more active. Wear long sleeves at these times and if in a high-risk area, sleep under a mosquito net impregnated with pyrethrin. Use a mosquito coil and insect repellents in your room. Use a fan in your room whilst sleeping as the mosquitos will find it harder to fly in the circulating air.

Women’s safety

Females need to practice caution when travelling alone in India. Reports of sexual assaults against local females are high and this has been known to extend to foreign females. Respect their culture and dress respectfully. Just last year an Irish female was attacked and murdered in Goa, the place in India which is more relaxed and where people drop their guard. You can find lots of tips about how to stay safe in India as a woman here by a solo female traveller who has been to India five times.

Heat

Protect yourself from the sun as even on a cloudy day, you can burn quickly. One great way to reduce the risk of heat stroke is to make sure you drink plenty to avoid dehydration. Drink rehydration solution if you feel that you are suffering from dehydration.

Other things to know to take care of your health whilst in India

  • Alcohol gel is a great thing to have where hand washing isn’t available.
  • In certain areas in India, particularly the Himalayas, you can get altitude sickness. Be aware when travelling at an altitude that you need to move slowly and give your body the change to adjust.
  • Altitude sickness can occur in certain regions, so let your body adjust to the elevation slowly, and keep hydrated.
  • India has venomous snakes so if you are bitten make sure you look at the markings and seek help urgently.
  • As always, make sure you have good travel insurance.
  • If you need emergency assistance during your time in India, dial 102.

Check out this article on how travelling can improve your health.

How travelling can improve your health

We all love going on holiday. Year upon year, we eagerly await those sacred days off. Whether you go once a year for a week away, or whenever you have time available, there is something so refreshing about taking time to travel. So what happens if I told you that it has been proven that travelling can improve your health. Does it make you want to travel more?

There are so many obvious benefits to travelling. Not only does travel give you time away from the stresses of everyday life, it has also been shown to improve your health in many different ways. This isn’t just hearsay, it is all backed up by science. So not only can you discover the beauty of the world, you can get healthy at the same time.

Travelling can help you manage stress

As already mentioned, travelling can improve your help by taking you away from the sources of everyday stresses of life. This is great apart from when you return, those stresses of everyday life will return. So what if travelling could help you manage stress better?

Removing yourself from stress, even for just a while, can give you a whole different perspective on life and give your mind the time to relax, recharge and rejuvenate. It means that when you return to the stresses, you are better equipped to handle them. It has also been shown the stress relieving ability of travelling will stay with you for at least five weeks after you have travelled. So use that time to look at ways to handle these stresses better.

Travelling can improve your health by increasing your happiness

Even before going on a trip, your health is improved as people experience a lot more sense of happiness when a plan to travel is in place. It was shown that people waiting for an upcoming trip were a lot happier in a lot of aspects of their life from family situations to their own health. And once you are away travelling, those new experiences help rewire your brain meaning that you have an increasing sense of happiness. Additionally, the lower cortisol levels from the reduced stress and increased happiness will leave you feeling more content.

Travelling can reduce the risk of depression

Suffering from depression can have a knock-on effect on your health. But one thing travel really does give you is lots of excitement with new places and experiences. This is a great distraction from everyday life and the combination of the two points mentioned above, less stress and increased happiness can result in a lift in mood.

Travel improves your health by helping you see the true essence of life

If you are unsure how discovering the essence of life can improve your health, well here’s why. Travel enriches you by opening you up to a diversity of experiences, culture and perspectives. It makes you realise that you do not need those material things that you always thought that you needed: the best phone, the fastest car and the big house. It has now been shown that experiencing travel leaves you happier than buying material things. So forget the stresses of competing to keep up with the neighbours, enjoy travel and all it has to offer you.

Travelling reduces your risk of a heart attack

Having a heart attack can be a major risk to your health. So what if I told you that travelling can actually reduce your risk of having a heart attack. There are many factors to why travel can promote your health like this. It is well known that travellers tend to be more active, getting out and about, exploring the world more. Additionally, stress can put a major strain on your hearts, and as already discussed, travel can reduce your stress.

Travelling can improve your health by boosting your immune system

Travelling exposes you to different people, different environments and of course different germs. This means that light exposure to these germs makes your body create antibodies – meaning that your immune system will improve a lot. I’m not saying that you should go out there and put yourself at risk, always makes sure you practise hand hygiene and be careful that you eat and drink safely when in high-risk countries, but travelling really does boost your immune system.

Travelling improves your brain health

Travel really has expanded my mind. I have met new people, learnt new things and learnt to adapt to different ways of life to what I am used to. My mind is more creative and I have more awareness. Why, because not only do I travel to new places, but I also submerge myself in the culture. This happens because your brain is sensitive to change and learns from new surroundings. From different sights and smells to learning a different language, your brain is kept active. Your cognitive awareness becomes sharper, you become more mindful and all this helps with your personal development.

Travelling keeps you fit

The difference between a one-week annual holiday and an extended travel trip can be a lot. One you are sipping margaritas on the beach by day and eating your way through a buffet by night. The other you are rope swinging through the jungle, paddle boarding in the sea and hiking through the wilderness. Now which one do you think will keep you fit?

Travelling exposes you to places on Earth that have healing properties

There are many places in the world where the mineral-rich waters have healing properties. These can clear up skin conditions, relieve stress and pain as well as increasing longevity. There are also many places around the world which are believed to be energy points, some famous ones being Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt. So you can plan your trips via these healing places or visit them as you pass through to improve your health.

It cannot be denied that travelling enriches our lives but now as you can see, it also improves your health through mind, body and soul. With all these positives effects on your health, no wonder your life expectancy is likely to be longer. So start planning your trip and start travelling. Your health will thank you.

The 8 regional cooking styles of China

China has the world’s oldest culinary culture and diversity that is hard to imagine. The country has eight major culinary traditions which are known as the 8 Great Chinese Cuisines originating from the eight provinces of the vast country including Fujian, Anhui, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Guangdong, Hunan, and Zhejiang. These eight major culinary schools have predominated in China, and their popularity has reached different corners of the world.

Zhejiang

Sited in the delta of the Yangtze River, Zhejiang is a very rich province. Its cuisine embodies the plush lifestyle of its citizen and is fresh, smooth, tender and high-class. Their dishes are not spicy and usually light. The main cooking ingredients are seafood, fish, bamboo, and poultry. The primary cooking methods are stir-frying, deep-frying, quick-frying and braising. Some of the most popular Zhejiang dishes include Fried pork belly in a stew of wine and soy sauce, Braised fish, grass carp served in syrup, and Shelled shrimps.

Sichuan

Sichuan is home to China’s most popular dishes. Sichuan is a combination of Chengdu and Chongqing cooking styles. Sichuan food is famous for its hot and spicy flavour and features the use of many seasoning ingredients. The common spices used are Sichuan pepper and chilli. The main cooking method is stir-frying, steaming, braising, quick-frying, baking etc. Popular Sichuan dishes include Gongbao Jiding which is spiced diced chicken and Mapo Tofu.

Jiangsu

Jiangsu cuisine is not very popular but has a rich and sophisticated cooking culture. The meals are prepared using elaborate methods and artistic arrangements. The diet is usually fresh and is made up of mostly seafood. Cooking methods include braising, stewing, roasting, simmering, and warming. The dishes have a little amount of seasoning to preserve the natural flavours of the ingredients. Some of the favorite dishes include Jingling salted duck and the sweet and sour mandarin fish with its elaborate presentation.

Anhui

Anhui cuisine is also not so popular. The cuisine is dominated by vegetables and herb from the land and the sea. The cooking here is not so rich because the region is not very prosperous. Cooking methods is mainly braising. Some of their favourite dishes include Li Hongzhang stew and yellow crab shell cake.

Shandong

The cuisine of Shandong usually consists of light seafood and soups because of its proximity to the sea. The primary cooking methods are quick-frying and deep-frying. The style is very popular in Beijing and other parts of Northeast China. One of the most popular dishes from Shandong is the Sweet and Sour Carp.

Guangdong

Popularly known as Cantonese, Guangdong cuisine is the most famous Chinese cuisine served outside China. The dishes have a distinct flavour which is the result of an impeccable cooking style with rare ingredients. The dishes have the low seasoning to retain the natural flavour of the ingredients. Common ingredients include fresh seafood, fresh herbs, sweet sauces, and meat. Cooking techniques include braising, stir-frying, deep-frying, stewing, roasting, sautéing, steaming, and stewing. The region is famous for its dim sum which makes a great serving of breakfast.

Fujian

Fujian cuisine is highly flavoured and light. Common ingredients include bamboo shoots, woodland mushrooms, turtles, fish, wild herbs, and shellfish owing to its proximity to the coast and mountain country. Soups are a prominent part of this cuisine, and they like to add assortments of seasonings and herbs to their dishes. Cooking methods include stir-frying, deep-frying, stewing, baking, boiling, grilling, simmering, braising, and smoking and so on. One of the most popular Fujian recipes is the Buddha jumping on the wall which is made from close to 30 ingredients including sea slug, mushrooms, chicken breast, dried scallops, pig’s trotters, and duck and so on.

Hunan

Just like Sichuan, Hunan cuisine has a spicy and hot feel. It is usually moist, rich and either creamy or crispy with a powerful flavour of chilli, pepper, shallot or garlic. The dishes are also oily and colourful. Rice, fish, chilli, and many other ingredients are used in the cuisine. The basic cooking methods are stir-frying, pickling, fermenting, steaming, smoking, and sautéing
A popular dish in Hunan is the Steamed fish head with chopped pepper and Dong’s chicken.

Check out this article about popular tourist destination in east Africa.

Some selected readings

Sigurðsson, A. (2010, November 4.) The eight major regional cuisines of China. Retrieved January 17, 2018, from the Web

Zhu, W. (2013, May 27.) Eight Regional Cuisines of China. Retrieved January 17, 2018, from the Web

Parkinson, R. (2017, February 17.) Chinese Regional Cooking Styles. Retrieved January 17, 2018, from the Web

Hua, S. (2015, October 9.) 8 Major Cuisine Types in China. Retrieved January 17, 2018, from the Web

5 effective ways to achieving weight loss

There are thousands of quick-fix weight loss solutions floating around the Internet. But the majority are outright dubious while many that work are not sustainable in the long-term. Achieving optimal weight is a long-term process, and you need to make adjustments to your lifestyle to maintain your weight after shedding the excess pounds. Here are a few strategies to help you lose weight.

Stay committed

According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the most essential steps towards long-term weight loss is to commit to making the necessary changes required to provide the results you desire. You must be ready and willing to make adjustments to your life so that you can concentrate on your weight loss goals. You may find it hard to focus on weight loss if other things are competing for your attention. For example, if you are facing some financial challenges or your relationship is going haywire, losing weight may not be the most important thing on your mind. To make the most of your weight loss programs, get rid of distractions or limit them to the point where they don’t affect your weight loss goals.

Self-motivation

Losing weight is one of the hardest things you can ever try. This is because weight gain is intrinsically tied to nutrition and lifestyle, two things that are difficult to change. To lose weight successfully, you need to muster a tremendous amount of self-motivation to pull yourself through the difficult task. Since you are the sole beneficiary of a banging, fit body, you don’t expect encouragement from anyone except yourself. Search for motivating factors around you, and write them down. Whenever you feel the urge to stray from your goals, fire up your inspiration by calling to mind some of the motivating factors. It also helps to have supportive people around you. Associate with people who can give you support without judging you. A weight loss support group can be an excellent source of motivation. These groups are plenty on the internet, and you can join one or two to interact with people who are facing the same challenges.

Eat whole foods

According to the National Institutes of Health, a diet rich in whole foods, especially single-ingredient foods can help people lose weight because it eliminates the excess fat and added sugar from the food. Also, whole foods make you full faster, which reduces the number of calories you consume per meal. Whole foods are also rich in essential nutrients which helps the body stay healthy and function at optimal levels. The deficit in calories plays a huge part in the attainment of your weight loss goals. But this doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice good taste for weight loss. Take more of vegetables, fruits, and grain.

Exercise

While nutrition plays a larger role in weight loss, you still have to exercise if you want the best results. Even after reducing your caloric intake by adjusting your diet, regular exercise will help you burn excess calories which your body doesn’t use for metabolic activities. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies reveal that people who maintain their body weight in the long term engage in a regular physical activity. One of the best ways of burning extra fat is to engage in daily aerobic exercises such as running or brisk walking. Your goal should be to increase your physical activity as your body burns calories whenever you are active. You can build a routine into your lifestyle that helps you to burn fat continuously throughout the day. It may be jogging in the morning or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Whatever it is, keep moving.

Set realistic goals

Despite your good intentions, setting goals that are too high does your weight loss program more harm than good. If your goals are too high, you end up not being able to achieve them, which demoralises you. When you become demoralised because you don’t get the results you desire, you may be frustrated and lose sight of the more important goals, leading you to drop losing weight altogether. If you can’t lose more than 1 pound in two weeks, don’t set a two pound milestone for yourself. The most important thing is to keep dropping the calories, however, slow you may be.

In summary, losing weight can undoubtedly be challenging, but following the above strategies with dedication will definitely help. You can also check out these healthy ways of losing weight.

Good luck!

Some selected readings

Kramer, J. (2015, February 9.) The number 1 reason you’re not achieving your weight-loss goal. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from the Web

Mayor Clinic. (2016, November 16.) Weight loss: 6 strategies for success. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from the Web

James, W. (2001.) Achieving weight-loss maintenance. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from the Web