What are parasites?
The immediate question that comes to people's minds when they become informed of this situation is: "How can a parasite possibly live in my body and I don't even know it is there?" The answer to this is simple:. the nature of a parasite is to not make itself known. A smart parasite lives without being detected because if it is detected, of course, something is going to be done to eradicate it. Parasites are "clever" in their ability to survive and reproduce, which is of course, the purpose of any organism on this planet. It sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? And in some ways it is, but it can make life for humans very complicated.
In the book, "Animals Parasitic in Man" by Geoffrey Lapage, he states: "There is no part of the human body, nor indeed, any part of the bodies of the hosts of parasitic animals in general, which is not visited by some kind of parasitic animal at some time or another, during their life histories" This means parasites can occur anywhere in your body. No organ is immune from their infestation.
Parasites - hard to detect and hard to get rid of!
If you were to get tested by a doctor for parasites, chances are the results would come back negative. Does this mean with certainty that you do not have parasites? Unfortunately medical testing procedures only catch about 20% of the actual cases of parasites. There exist over l,000 species of parasites which can live in your body, however tests are available for approximately 40 to 50 types. This means physicians are only testing for about 5% of the parasites and missing 80% of those which are present. This brings the ability to clinically find parasites down to l %.
The book, "Medical Parasitology" by Markell and Voge, points out that therapy to remove entire tapeworms from the small intestine is only successful if the whole worm is expelled. If the head remains, the entire worm will grow back.
How, then, do you determine whether or not you have parasites? In order to understand how to make this determination, you have to understand what a parasite does. A parasite eats, lays eggs and secretes. Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? First let's look at the "eats" part. Depending on the kind, parasites will eat different things. Some parasites love sugar, for instance. If you are a person who craves sugar, you may have a sugar loving parasite. These parasites live off the food that goes into your body. They exist mainly in the digestive tract, but can also be found in the liver, as well as throughout the body.
Other parasites actually get their nutrition directly from the cells of the body. They can literally attach themselves anywhere and suck nutrients out of the cells. These parasites are significantly more dangerous because they can travel to areas in the body where they can do a lot more damage than a parasite living exclusively in the digestive tract.
As if it wasn't bad enough to have an uninvited guest living in your body, the parasites eat your nutrients before you do! They get the best nutrients, we get the scraps and leftovers. They grow healthy and fat, yet your organs and skin starve for nutrition. What's more, parasites can remain in your body for 10, 20 or even 30 years.
To illustrate the longevity of parasites in the human body, consider this example: in l979, a British study reported on 600 former prisoners from World War 2. These men had been stationed in the Far East. Thirty years after the war, 15% were still infected with a parasite called Stronglyloides which they had contracted during the war. This means you could have eaten meat 10 years ago that was contaminated and still be hosting the tapeworms or other types of parasites which were in that meat.
Parasites reproduce quickly!
Let's now examine the way parasites reproduce. First of all, we need to understand that there are two major categories of parasites: large parasites, which are primarily worms, and small parasites which are mainly microscopic in size, including what are called protozoa and amoebae. Despite their being almost invisible, small parasites can be dangerous. Microscopic parasites can get into your joints and eat the calcium linings of your bones. This can lead to arthritic tendencies. They can also eat the protein coating on your nerves (the myelin sheath) and this can cause a disruption in the nerve signal from the brain. One type of tiny parasite which infects the colon is called "Entamoeba Histolytica". This type of infection can also be found in the liver, the lungs, and the brain. The disease is called amebiasis, and is often transmitted via contaminated food or water.
Large parasites, which are the worm type, are usually large enough to be seen with the naked eye. Some can be up to 10 or even 15 inches long and in most cases cannot travel to other parts of the body, other than the digestive tract.
The smaller parasites, the protozoas and amoebas, can function almost like a bacteria by traveling through the bloodstream to virtually any part of the body. They reproduce without laying eggs and behave more like an infection in the body than do the larger parasites.
The larger parasites are worms which reproduce by laying eggs. Eggs are deposited into the intestinal tract, where they stick to the walls of the intestines. When the eggs hatch, the young feed on the food that we eat and eventually grow into adults. The adults then repeat this process.
Some of the larger parasites:
The fish tapeworm is the largest of the human tapeworms, reaching the length of 33 feet or more. There can be 3,000 to 4,000 segments in one worm. It can produce more than 1,000,000 eggs a day. This type of infestation can cause anemia because of interference with vitamin B12. Tapeworms can also cause water retention. Besides tapeworms from beef, pork and fish, there is also a type of dog tapeworm you can get when dogs lick your face or hands.
Pinworms are very infectious and can cause a lot of itchiness in the anal area. The worms deposit their eggs mostly at night, contaminating pajamas and bed linen. The eggs are readily transported through the air, and it is not uncommon to find them in every room of the house. Complications are much more common in women than in men. Pinworms can also sometimes be found in the vulva, uterus and fallopian tubes because the worm loses its way while trying to return to the anus after depositing its eggs.
Another type of roundworm that can be present in humans is whipworms. These insidious creatures actually inject a digestive fluid which converts the colon tissue into liquid which the worms suck up. Dr. Norman Stoll, a former worm expert at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, estimated, in the 1940s, that the roundworm infects about 644 million people in the world. Nutritional deficiencies are seen in heavy roundworm infections. That figure must now be much higher 60 years later.
Hookworms bite and suck on the intestinal wall, which can cause bleeding and necrosis (death of the tissue). In severe infections, iron deficiency becomes a problem because of all the iron that is lost to the hookworm. Hemoglobin levels as low as 15% of normal have been seen in patients with severe, long-standing hookworm disease.
The smaller parasites reproduce without the process of laying eggs. They reproduce by duplicating themselves in a manner similar to bacteria or viral reproduction.
Parasites Secrete Toxins
The 3rd thing which parasites do is secrete. All organisms secrete something, whether it be lubricants, waste materials, protective liquids for warding off viruses, bacteria and other harmful organisms, or secretions to help attract food. No matter what the secretion is-- the secretion can be a toxin to the host organism. Simply put, the secretions from parasites into our bodies are poisons and toxins which our bodies are forced to deal with by increasing the process of detoxification. As anyone who has ever maintained an aquarium knows, ammonia is extremely toxic, yet it is one of the gases excreted by parasites living within human and animal hosts.
On the other end, a chronic parasitic infection secreting low levels of toxins can create an extremely strained immune system which may allow varied health problems to develop. When the immune system is strained over a long period of time, it of course, becomes weak. When the immune system is weak, our bodies become susceptible to infections of all kinds. This can be an extremely dangerous situation in this day and age because we are exposed to more viruses than ever before. Also, they are changing and adapting at a very fast rate as are the bacteria, many of which are now resistant to antibiotics and other artificial measures which used to combat them.
People with a weakened immune system tend to feel tired all the time. Some people refer to this as "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome". If this sounds like you or someone you know, you may want to seriously consider the possibility of a depleted immune system caused by a chronic parasitic infection.
Parasites create toxic overload
If parasites secrete toxins into our bodies which our bodies need to neutralize, and we happen to be one of those people who drinks alcohol, smokes cigarettes, eats junk food and breathes polluted air, the extra stress and strain on the body's cleansing system can be enough to push the body into what we call toxic overload. Those last few lifestyle choices we just mentionned are under your control, however.
Toxic overload occurs when the 4 cleansing systems of the body have been pushed too far by an overload of toxins in the body. Parasite toxins in the body are one more thing a toxic body does not need.
There are 4 cleansing systems in the body: the lungs, kidneys, skin and bowel. With toxic bowel syndrome, the excess of toxins absorbed from a clogged up bowel goes to the liver. The liver is then over-burdened, eventually unable to cope with this toxic load and the toxins start to spill into the bloodstream.
Once this happens, the kidneys, lungs and skin have to take over the job of cleansing and they too become challenged in their ability to remain healthy. So you see, parasites can be one of the most damaging health factors threatening the world today.
Now let's examine what we can do to rid ourselves of parasites.
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Work in progress. My neurofeedback app for Android will be available in the Google Play Store when completed.
The Neurosky EEG headset I am wearing in the video is available here.
Click the Skype button above and ask me your nutrition-related questions, via Skype video, every weekday from 2pm to 2:15pm, Central Time.
Free for a limited time only.
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