From the Beach to the Bathroom!
Most frequent flyers have at some point experienced the unpleasant effects of Traveler’s Diarrhea – a result of contaminated food or water. Diarrhea often leave us feeling anything but sexy in our bikinis and board shorts. With symptoms such as urgent loose stools, abdominal discomfort, fever, and sometimes vomiting and bloody diarrhea, nobody enjoys Montezuma’s revenge.
The large majority of cases (as much as 90%) are caused by bacteria: the most common culprit is E. coli,followed by Campylobacter jejuni. Since the symptoms are clear and the onset is so abrupt, Traveler’s Diarrhea isn’t too tricky to identify.
You don’t have to be on vacation for digestive symptoms to crop up. Symptoms can be so mild they are hard to notice. Perhaps they linger for days, weeks – even months. Could you be carrying around an unwanted passenger?
What are parasites? The sidekick you don’t want!
Parasites are categorized as helminths or protozoa. Helminths , or “worms”, consist of many cells, they do not multiply while in their adult form, and they may reach a disturbing length of up to 12 meters! You may have heard of tapeworms, pinworms, roundworms, and even hookworms…
Protozoa are single-celled parasites that can multiply in the body. Common examples of these include giardia (which if you’re a dog or cat owner you’ve most likely heard of) and cryptosporidium.
Parasites in general can affect any area of the body and have many modes of transmission. They enter via fruit, vegetables, water, undercooked meat, fish, soil, and insects such as mosquitoes.
Has my body been invaded?
While symptoms of a parasitic infection are often vague, the following may indicate you’re playing host to an unwanted guest:
- Bloating and gas
- Diarrhea or constipation
- IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sleep disturbances
- Rash or itching around the rectum or vulva
Symptoms involving the digestive tract may be linked to a number of conditions so it is best that you seek medical advice to rule out other potential causes. If a parasite is suspected, your doctor will recommend fecal testing. Keep in mind it may take several stool samples for the parasite to be detected; they’re quite sneaky and obviously don’t want to get caught since they need a host to survive.
How can I ditch my “Friend”?
There are several conventional drugs used to kill and eliminate parasites. There are also a number of cleanse kits and botanical formulas at your local health food store. Keep in mind that regardless of which method you choose, other factors should be considered as well.
#1 Clean up your diet! Of all dietary changes, avoiding sugar, refined carbohydrates and fermented foods is an absolute must. Candida and parasites often coexist and both thrive on these food sources. Cut out their food supply!
#2 Always ensure your bowels are working well before you complete any type of cleanse or detox. This means you should be having at least 1 bowel movement a day and often 2 or 3 depending on the amount of food you consume. If your bowels aren’t working well, stop here and get help first.
#3 Search for a good cleanse kit that addresses both parasites and candida. Read the ingredients and check that it contains a combination of herbs as opposed to just one. Look for herbs such as:
- Black walnut extract (from green hull)
- Grapefruit seed extract
- Pumpkin seed
#4 Support the process! Other supplements that may help as you remove parasites include digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid/stomach acid and fibre. The enzymes and hydrochloric acid help protects us against parasites that enter via food and water, they serve as part of our immune system as well as our digestive system. Fibre as we know helps with elimination and may help with the removal of leftover parasitic matter.
#5 Restore intestinal health. Whether herbs are used or conventional drugs, it’s always a good idea to reduce inflammation in the gut and repair any damage that may exist after the fact. Supplements such as L-Glutamine can help heal the intestinal tract and probiotics restore and balance bacteria and nothing beats healthy eating.
BSc, MSc, ND