If you’re a non-vegetarian, you would have been cautioned about consuming fish or other seafood during the monsoon season. Right? Well, here’s the reason behind it. While the monsoon brings relief and rejuvenation, it also makes seafood more susceptible to hazardous germs because of the increased risk of contamination in water bodies. This makes it advisable to avoid seafood during the rainy season.
Side effects of eating seafood during the monsoon
Health Shots got in touch with Ashish Rani, a nutritionist and dietitian at Aakash Healthcare Super Specialty Hospital, New Delhi, to understand the side effects of eating seafood during the monsoon.
Rani says, “Seafood is very nutritious, packed with protein, and full of important nutrients. They can maintain your health, particularly your brain, eyes and immune system. However, it can have side effects if consumed during monsoon season.”
Here are 5 potential side effects of eating seafood:
1. Water pollution
The monsoon rain can often lead to increased water pollution as rainwater washes pollutants from the land into rivers, lakes and seas. Fish and other seafood species might ingest these pollutants, which can accumulate in their bodies. When humans consume contaminated seafood, they may be exposed to harmful substances such as heavy metals and chemicals, leading to long-term health issues.
2. Mercury poisoning
Another potential side effect of eating seafood is mercury poisoning. Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that can accumulate in the tissues of fish and other seafood, especially large predatory fish like tuna, swordfish, and sharks. The monsoon might cause these mercury levels to fluctuate, making it essential to be cautious about the types and quantities of fish consumed. Rani says, “When humans consume contaminated fish, they can accumulate dangerous levels of mercury in their bodies over time. Tremors, mood changes, memory loss and muscle weakness are some of the symptoms of mercury poisoning.” In fact, high mercury intake can lead to neurological issues, especially in pregnant women and young children.
3. Environmental contaminants
In addition to mercury, seafood can be contaminated with other environmental pollutants like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which can accumulate in the tissues of fish and may pose health risks to humans.
4. Allergic reactions to seafood
Some individuals may have allergies or sensitivities to certain types of fish or seafood. During monsoon, when the immune system can be more vulnerable, these allergies may be exacerbated. Rani says, “Common symptoms of a seafood allergy can range from mild to severe and may include hives, itching, rash, swelling on face, lips, tongue, or throat, difficulty breathing or wheezing, abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting.” If you have a known allergy, it is crucial to avoid the allergen and seek immediate medical attention if any adverse reactions occur.
5. Parasitic infections
Monsoon makes the environment conducive for the growth of parasites in water bodies. Fish and seafood may harbour parasites such as tapeworms, roundworms and flukes, which can cause parasitic infections when ingested. These infections can affect the digestive system, causing diarrhea, bloating, or gas after eating infected seafood, and, in severe cases, may even affect other organs. Proper cooking methods, such as thoroughly cooking fish and seafood, can help eliminate parasites and reduce the risk of infection.
Apart from these side effects of eating seafood during the monsoon, certain types of fish, including tuna, mackerel, and mahi-mahi, can contain high levels of histamine, a compound that can cause an allergic-like reaction in some people. Symptoms of histamine toxicity can include flushing, sweating, headache, or palpitations.
How to reduce the risk of seafood during the monsoon?
To minimize your risk of these side effects of seafood in the rainy season, choose high-quality, fresh seafood from trusted sources and cook it thoroughly to kill any harmful bacteria or parasites. If you have concerns about the safety of your seafood or experience any unusual symptoms after eating it, consult a healthcare provider for guidance.