Turkey 102: How to Stay Well in Turkey

Welcome back to my “Turkey lessons”, and I hope they are helping you!  I may even make them a series ;).  Today’s lesson is how to stay well in Turkey.  Traveling always comes with some health risks, and it is important to keep yourself well when traveling abroad.  Here are a few tips for keeping yourself healthy.

This painting is two years old, ok? No judgement!

1. Keep your immune system up: This one is obvious and applies to any travel you do.  When going abroad, you will be exposed to microbes such as viruses that you have not been exposed to before.  It is important to keep your immune system up the best you can with proper hydration, healthy eating, and adequate sleep.  Personal hygiene should also be kept well, such as washing your hands frequently, but in Turkey people do tend to be very clean ;).

2.  Watch what you eat:  Some delicacies in Turkey are more…delicate…than others.  For example, çiğ köfte and kokoreç.  The prior is a raw ground beef patty, and the latter is roasted intestine.  Both are likely breeding grounds for food-borne pathogens such as E. coli.  Don’t get me wrong- I eat them both and LOVE them both!  The Turks have a long history of brilliant food culture, and they know how to prepare these foods right- but sometimes our american guts can’t handle it.  So, I would advise starting our these harrowing food adventures in small bites- testing the waters before jumping in.

3. Don’t drink tap water:  While Turkey has a water system that is drinkable, such as in the US, some areas may be…questionable.  Within my husband’s life, he can recall a time when the water in Izmir, one of the most developed cities in Turkey, had water sanitation issues.  My in-laws still drink from a water cooler in the kitchen…and I think I will follow their suit.  But don’t be afraid to try the spring water, when it is available!

4. Embrace natural remedies:  Homeopathy is fairly common in Turkey, and its popularity is growing in the US.  When I had a stomach ache my mother in law gave me fennel tea- and that helped a lot.  Much like the food culture, the Turks have a long history of homeopathy and they have honed their skills.  While there is a place for homeopathy, it is still important to know when enough is enough- and to consult a physician if your ailments become too serious.

I hope these tips help you when spending time in Turkey, and if you have any other advice, please drop a comment below!