Follow These Dining Rules to Stay Healthy in Mexico
Maria Fermin - Mexico News Daily
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January 1, 2022

It’s a common, often controversial, warning for foreign travelers to Mexico: watch out what you eat and drink here.

Traveler’s diarrhea is by far the most common travel-related illness, with more than 10 million annual reported cases worldwide. Although you can get sick anywhere in the world, if you spend enough time in a developing country, the chances are pretty high that you will experience a mild stomach problem at some point.

Ironically, the prevalence of such symptoms often leads foreigners living here full-time to dismiss such concerns, reasonably noting that healthy adults will usually recover from their illness within three to 10 days.

However, adults older than 65, children younger than five and anyone who has a chronic inflammatory condition or a weakened immune system belong to a high-risk population that might not fare so well. If that is the case for you, be aware that 3% of people who experience traveler’s diarrhea develop serious long-term consequences, including ascending paralysis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), reactive arthritis and even kidney damage.

The decision to enjoy a cozy, home-style meal in one of the country’s many inexpensive small restaurants known as fondas, or to venture into sampling Mexico’s world-famous street food, should take into account your personal sensitivities and where you fall in terms of your general health.

Although bacteria, parasites and viral infection can all be potential sources of traveler’s diarrhea, the Spanish medical journal Annals of the Health System of Navarra states that E. coli bacteria is the culprit in more than 70% of all diarrheal cases in Mexico.

E. coli is primarily transmitted through the ingestion of food that has been contaminated or exposed to infected animal or human fecal matter. The source of this matter could be contaminated soil or water or unclean hands.

These guidelines will help minimize the risk of ingesting E. coli while in Mexico:

Tap Water

Always double-check that your water and ice come from purified sources before taking a sip. Also, be mindful of accidental tap water exposure in restaurants by drying off any utensils, plates and glasses.

Trust Your Nose

Our olfactory senses communicate with our limbic system and rapidly trigger responses. If anything smells spoiled or makes you feel uneasy, trust your instincts and do not taste it. Simply find another place to eat.

Watch How Food Is Being Handled

Unfortunately, glove use is not widespread, so it’s extra important to pay attention to how the food is being handled: are employees washing and disinfecting their hands when moving from raw to prepared ingredients? Are their fingernails clean and trimmed? If you see artificial nails, keep walking: they pose a much higher risk for trapping harmful bacteria and make thorough handwashing more difficult.

Antibacterial Gel

Note whether it is readily available for employees and customers. Pandemic or not, basic hygiene is the first line of defense against foodborne illness.

Read the rest at Mexico News Daily

Notice: This content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.

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