The rainy season brings relief from the scorching heat. But, at the same time, one is also at an increased risk of various health issues. One may suffer from fatal diseases owing to the unhygienic conditions and not adhering to preventive measures. In monsoon, diarrhoea is the acute and most common symptom of foodborne illness, but other serious consequences are kidney and liver failure, brain and neural disorders, reactive arthritis, cancer and death. Dr Roy Patankar, gastroenterologist and director, Zen Hospital, talks about foodborne diseases and tricks to keep them at bay.

Foodborne diseases are usually due to an infection or irritation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract caused by food or beverages which carry harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses, or chemicals. Most foodborne illnesses may happen suddenly and also last for a short duration. Many people may recover by themselves, without taking any treatment. In some cases, foodborne illness can cause serious complications.

Preventive measures:
You must refrigerate the food properly: Raw and cooked perishable foods should be refrigerated or frozen without delay. Not doing so can invite bacteria and viruses. How do you store vegetarian and non-vegetarian food? These foods items should be stored separately. Certain foods like milk, meat and curries which can get spoilt immediately must be stored at the right temperature. Refrigerate cooked food as soon as it reaches the room temperature. Leftover food items have to be consumed at the earliest to prevent fungus growth.

Maintain good hand hygiene: Following good and proper hand hygiene is the need of the hour. Firstly, you must wet your hands thoroughly and apply soap. Then, rub the back of your hands and after that rub both your hands interlocking your fingers. After rubbing your finger and thumbs, rinse your hands properly. Follow this healthy habit after handling food, visiting the washroom, changing diapers, or touching animals. This will prevent the transmission of bacteria and viruses.

Make sure that there is no cross-contamination: Cross-contamination can be defined as the physical movement or transfer of harmful bacteria from one person, object or place to another. Make sure that you place raw meat and eggs away from the rest of the food items in your refrigerator because the juices of raw meat can lead to cross-contamination. Opt for airtight containers to store food and those should be of good quality. Don’t leave your food open for a longer period of time as it can attract insects and flies. Don’t serve fresh food on the same plate which had raw food on it. In case you are eating outside, see to it that the plates, knives, and spoons you use are clean.

Eat fresh food: Eat properly cooked food at home. Bid adieu to the junk food. Going for fresh fruits and vegetable salads can improve your immunity. But, make sure that the fruits and vegetables are freshly cut. Include pepper, garlic, ginger, jeera powder, coriander and turmeric. Check vegetables before buying as they can be infested with dirt. Also, remember that hydration is the key. So, drink a lot of water to stay healthy during the monsoon.