Traveler's Belly: Mexico Edition
After arriving home from a recent trip to Mexico for a friend's wedding, I quickly came down with what seemed to be an endless agony of "poop emergencies" and barf frenzies. With frequent trips to the bathroom every 15 minutes for roughly 3-4 days straight. Little sleep, lots of weight lost, and a buldging stomach from malnutrition, I wondered what I had ate in Mexico that could have triggered this illness. As I back tracked in my mind I remembered the meal I had the night before boarding my flight back home. Shrimp ceviche! If you know me you know that I love ceviche, be it shrimp or fish I love it all. But ceviche isn't just shrimp with citrus and a beautiful arrangement of herbs and veggies. It's raw shrimp!... with a beautiful arrangement of herb and veggies. Bad idea.
Everyone knows the number one rule about Mexico. Do not drink the water! Which I did not do and even avoided ice in all my drinks at all cost. But they never said don't eat the contaminated shrimp that has been swimming around in the contaminated and bacteria stricken water either. So I learned the hard way. This had to be the worst health experience I have ever had in my life BUT I learned a valuable lesson for future trips. Do not eat raw shrimp in foreign countries. EVER.
To make sure that I never get traveler's belly again and no one else does I made a list of rules as well as some natural remedies that turned things around. See below.
Drinking bottled beverages, including bottled water, is usually safe.
Tap water and dairy products should be avoided.
Be sure that tea and coffee are made with boiled or bottled water.
Alcoholic drinks are generally safe, but travelers should watch carefully to ensure that these are not served with ice cubes made from tap water in at-risk areas.
Brushing teeth should be done with bottled water.
Beware of any contact with tap water in areas with unsafe water supplies, including consumption of fruits or vegetables that may have been washed in unsafe tap water.
Try to eat vegetables and fruit (like bananas and oranges) that you can peel yourself.
Buying food from street vendors can in some areas poses a risk for infection.
Avoid consumption of undercooked meat or seafood.