The definition of a parasite is an organism that lives off or in another organism, obtaining nourishment and protection while offering no benefit in return. Human parasites are often harmful to the body and can cause illness and disease.
Where do we pick up parasites? They can be found in the water we drink, the food we eat, and even in the air we breathe. We can pick them up as easily as walking barefoot in sand or dirt. We can also get them by eating undercooked meats or contaminated fruits and vegetables and by drinking unclean water. We get them from our pets (especially if they sleep in our bed), from insects such as mosquitoes, and we can even get them from contact with someone else who has them.
Our bodies can deal with most parasites, but when we have a weakened immune system, trouble can occur. There are many things such as stress, poor diet, antibiotics and steroid drugs that can cause a weakened immune system and leave a person vulnerable to a parasitic infestation.
Some common signs and symptoms of parasite infestation include: diarrhea or constipation, gas, bloating and abdominal cramps, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, fatigue, joint pain, teeth grinding, rectal itching, ravenous appetite or loss of appetite, allergies, skin problems, rashes, immune dysfunction and sleep problems. One of these issues alone won’t necessarily point to parasites, but the more symptoms you have, the more likely your chances of a parasitic infestation.
BBQ and patio season is upon us and more people are preparing and eating food outside. Here’s what you need to consider for staying healthy and preventing illnesses:
Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often to avoid the spread of bacteria.
Separate: Keep raw foods separate from cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination of bacteria.
Chill: Keep cold food cold. Letting food sit at unsafe temperatures puts you at risk for bacteria growth and food borne illnesses.
Cook: Make sure you kill harmful bacteria by cooking food until it reaches the proper temperature. Don’t guess! Take a digital instant read food thermometer along to check when meat and poultry are safe to eat. Don’t add extra marinade within the last 5 minutes of cooking. Marinades also need to be safely cooked before consuming. Discard any leftover marinade. Don’t try to re-use it for another dish or another day.
The safe temperatures for cooked foods are:
• 71º C (160º F) for ground beef
• 74º C (165º F) for leftover food
• 85º C (185º F) for whole poultry
Pack: Always carry food for a picnic or outing in a cool bag with some ice bricks or frozen cartons of fruit juice to help keep it cool. Food should be kept in the cool bag until ready to be eaten, and raw foods such as meat should be kept separately from ready-to-eat foods. Keep food that is supposed to be cool in the cooler after use; don’t leave it sitting out to spoil.
Cover: Cover your foods when not serving them to avoid attracting bugs. Insects such as flies and wasps carry food poisoning bacteria and other germs on their legs and bodies, which contaminate food when they walk on it.
Other things to consider during the summer:
Make sure you wear shoes while walking on warm, moist soil and wear gloves while working in the garden. Parasites can be absorbed through skin cells.
Avoid swallowing or drinking the water while swimming in rivers, lakes, ponds, or public swimming pools. Wear a waterproof bandage if you have cuts or open sores or avoid swimming altogether.
Making sure you have a strong, healthy immune system is the best way to prevent parasites and disease. Supplementing with good bacteria (probiotics) is the easiest way to build up your good bacteria and keep your immune system strong. Eating yogurt is not enough so here are a few things to look for when choosing a probiotic supplement:
1. Look for high culture count.
The culture count refers to the total amount of live, friendly bacterial cultures in a single serving. Some people may need a higher amount depending upon age or health-related concern.
2. Check out the number of strains.
There are over 1,000 strains of beneficial bacteria in the gut. A good rule of thumb is that a variety of strains more closely resembles the diversity that naturally exists in the gut. Look for the naturally occurring strains that begin with Ls and Bs, like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. The L strains are good for the little (small) intestine. The B strains are good for the big (large) intestine or colon. It’s also important to get a variety of strains because each person’s body has a different bacterial footprint and utilizes some bacterial strains better than others. Cover all the bases with one supplement for best results.
3. Make sure the capsule is designed for delayed release of the probiotics.
Probiotics must travel through the harsh stomach environment and be delivered to the intestines to be effective. If they never make it through the stomach acid, they won’t do you any good. Delayed-release capsules are enteric coated and designed to remain intact through the stomach and begin dissolving in the intestine where the pH is more alkaline and where they are needed most.
4. Look for potency of the probiotics at time of expiration, not manufacture.
Any probiotic is fresh when manufactured, but very few remain at full strength through their expiration date. A probiotic supplement, when delivered to the right place in the intestinal tract, with the right amount of cultures and strains, can help promote digestive health, bowel regularity and strengthen the body’s natural immune defences.
If you know you have parasites you can always complete an herbal cleansing program for parasites from your local health food store. Look for a product that contains multiple anti-parasitic, anti-microbial and anti-fungal herbs. ParaGONE by Renew Life covers all of those bases in one convenient kit.
Other Ways to Support Immunity
• Wash your hands regularly
• Get plenty of sleep
• Drink lots of water
• Eat a healthy diet of whole foods like fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, seeds and lean meats.
• Avoid processed foods and sugar (sugar in any form quickly suppresses the immune system by paralyzing white blood cells)
• Supplement with a good multivitamin
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Stop smoking
• Reduce and manage stress
Parasites are an inevitable part of life, but taking care of yourself, building your immune system and reducing your exposure can diminish your chances of contracting them.
Original version of article posted at Naturally Savvy