Protecting Your Health in China

picture source & edited
Staying healthy in China takes some work and when I say healthy, I don't mean like eating your veggies or exercising. In China, keeping your body healthy means keeping it from foreign substances and keeping your lungs healthy means, as best as possible, protecting them from pollution.  
Air Quality
Check out our friends post from the many days of terrible pollution in China. They live in the building next to ours on the 26th floor, where they should have a great view, but too many days this winter they've had views like above. Terrible. Awful stuff wrecking havoc on our lungs and breathing. It's no wonder we get so many sinus infections and colds here, with all that grossness blocking our air and sinus ways. There's hope to protecting your body by living in the midst of a smog cloud, though. Here's some tips to living admist the particles of lung destruction. 
Face masks
Face masks help keep those nasty air particles out of your mouth, nose, lungs and throat. 
Make sure it is a good quality face mask. 
Checking the air quality each day is key to knowing how to guard yourself for the day. I.E. Face mask or no face mask? Also, it's a great way to gage wether what you see, or rather can't see, out the window is sea fog (because we live by the ocean, so there's actually a lot of that!) or actual pollution.
If it says Extremely Unhealthy, as it has on some days this past winter, pray for it to be a Saturday, where you don't have to leave the house! Or wear your mask and spend as little time outdoors as possible. 
Keep your windows closed 
Don't willingly invite all that yucko air indoors while you're sleeping!
Keep your air con vents cleaned
Again, don't let your clean air be filtering through nasty buildup.
Air purifiers
Many people here buy Ion Air filters. Some people buy them for every room but most importantly for the room they sleep in and any rooms with babies. 
Food Quality
Organic Fruits and Vegetables
There are have been so many haunting stories with vegetables here that we always try to buy organic fruits and vegetables when available. From cabbages washed in formaldehyde,
vegetables covered in pesticide and exploding watermelons, organic is the way to go. There are many ways to do this in Qingdao, thankfully. There are local farms that you can buy specifically from that will deliver fresh, organic veggies to your door step. There is also, usually, an organic section at major grocery stores that stocks local farm goods. You can also rent a plot of land for a pretty low price and with your plot comes with farmers that farm and harvest the veggies for you. 
Buy a foreign fruit and veggie wash!
Washing your nonorganic and organic fruits and vegetables with a high quality or natural wash is always a good idea but especially in China. 
Watch out for the Oils
There have been countless reports and stories about gutter oil and reused oil. Gutter oil, is literally oil that has been skimmed off the top of sewage waste, filtered, and used again. We have actually seen someone doing this here. Sick nasty. Reused oil is as it sounds, oil that is reused and reused and reused. Reused oil and gutter oil is often sold as new oil to unsuspecting restaurants and customers. Living in China with this oil problem means that for us, we don't eat most street foods. I know some people who travel or live in China that will rave about the street food, but we're not those people. Chinese dishes are heavy on the oil and that's an understatement for most street food. 
Eat in restaurants with an open kitchen. I really like the restaurants that have glass windows or areas where you can watch your food being cooked. This shows me that they are not afraid or ashamed to show what's going on in the kitchen and what's going into your food. There are also several restaurants that keep their oil out front so that you can see and inspect what they are using in your food. It's also usually a good sign if there is a line of people waiting to eat at a restaurant. Most Chinese people are like us, they don't want to eat dirty food, no matter how cheap. If there are tons of Chinese people eating there, it's usually a good sign to the kitchen and oil quality, especially in nicer areas. 
Foreign Dairy
Most foreigners in Qingdao don't trust Chinese dairy products. I think it was the ground up plastic added to a popular milk brand to increase its' protein that did us all in. We all buy Korean milk and imported dairy products. There is one brand of higher quality Chinese yogurt that will we sometimes buy but have lately opted to making our own at home. 
Be Careful of Packaged Food
There are so many stories surrounding packaged foods; packaged meat actually being rat, food soaked in pesticides, foods with added carcinogens, foods with something disgusting extra to change color or texture, human hair added to soy sauce to increase the protein, the list goes on and on. Packaged foods, without the crazy stuff added, are usually not great for you anyway, so we just try our best to not eat them. But if you must, make sure you always stay informed with what's going on in the food industry. 
Foreign Formula
There have been some terrible formula stories in the formula industry here. I wouldn't trust Chinese formula with my future baby. Don't be fooled by the Infamil or Nestle produced products either, they are China produced. Buy foreign, high quality formula if your baby needs it in addition to or instead of breast milk. 
source ^Wish we could buy some meat from this shop- Western Meats & Deli
Quality or Halal Meat 
The horrific meat stories coming from China are literally enough to make you go vegan but some of us, the Texans, really do enjoy our meat. There is good news for us! There are Halal butchers and Halal meat  available in every city in China. You can usually bet that the meat will be of higher quality to meet halal standards. This doesn't, obviously, guarantee that the meat is 100% clean or healthy, but it's a safer bet than from a market or small grocery store. Meat from larger grocery stores is usually safe but even at large groceries there can still be a problem. I have found small ground up pieces of plastic in our ground pork before because of this we never buy ground meat. We have the butcher cut a chunk from a large piece of meat and watch them grind it in the grinder in front of us. Having your meat ground from a larger piece of meat is healthier anyways, since you are ensuring the meat is from one cow and not several cows, increasing the chance of salmonalla. Korean stores with Korean imported meat is usually a safe bet. Also, in Qingdao, we have a Japanese butcher that has a small shop down town and also supplies the meat for a larger grocery store near by that people swear by. We try to always buy this meat and often times go out of our way, even if its an inconvenience, to buy the better meats. 
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Rachel said...

Thank you for all of this, it's so good to know! Can you purchase the fruit and veggie washes in China?

chalayn said...

Holy cow! This is so shocking and horrible!!! I mean, I know our food is pretty crazy in the U.S. and there are some things they sneak in or lie to us about... but this... wow.

I love reading stuff like this though! It's so interesting to me to learn about other cultures. :)

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