Parasites find an opening in the ecosystem of life and exploit it for their survival. Billions are clamoring for a chance to get inside you, and the best way to do that is to ride in on your next meal.
Here are a few items on your menu with a high probability for parasites to be “piggybacking.” This doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get a belly full of worms with each one though! Proper food storage, freshest ingredients and sanitary food preparation conditions will greatly decrease the chances for food contamination.
Cooked Snails or Escargot
If you think consuming cooked snails is repulsive, then their parasites aren’t going to concern you. However, if you can’t think of a better vehicle for tasty garlic butter, then you might want to sit down before reading this. Did you know that snails feed on decaying leaves, fecal matter and carrion? It’s for this reason; one of the first steps in preparing a snail for the dinner table is to clean out its digestive system. Snail farmers often avoid a lot of potential toxicity by raising their livestock on ground cereal.
Angiostrongylus cantonensis or (rat lungworm) frequently set up house in snails and other mollusks due to their food source. And since snails are both bottom feeders and tasty treats, they’re perfect for transmitting these parasites. Eating undercooked escargot and Angiostrongylus cantonensis could wind up in your brain, resulting in sickness, headache and even meningitis. In addition, a poorly washed food snail can bring a number of other disease risks to your body.
Rat lungworm is common in a number of mollusks, including freshwater snails, shrimp, slugs, and crabs. Frogs are also a host. To be on the safe side, overcook any of these dinner delights if you just have to eat them.
Sushi and sashimi is another culprit
Many different animals of the world’s oceans also pose a parasite issue. The problem is that many of those life forms are home to parasites. You can eliminate the risk of infection by simply cooking your seafood thoroughly. Some also advise that you freeze the fish for a week or cure it in saturated salt brine for five to seven days. I personally wouldn’t guarantee that approach to rid all parasites.
The two problem worms to consider before dining on uncooked seafood are the Anisakidae nematode roundworms and the Diphyllobothrium tapeworm.
Of these two, the roundworm is the most common. If ingested, you might not even notice it or suffer any symptoms. The worm can “tickle” your throat on the way down, and if it bores into your stomach lining, it can cause severe abdominal inflammation and pain within an hour of ingestion. Fortunately, these troublesome parasites don’t survive longer than 10 days in the human digestive track.
The Diphyllobothrium tapeworm is common in salmon, as well as other saltwater fish that also frequent fresh water. These parasites can thrive in the human gut for years, causing abdominal pain, weakness, weight loss and anemia. Fortunately, they can be eradicated through parasite cleanse or medical treatment.
To avoid the risk of getting nematode roll or tapeworm sashimi, stick to reputable restaurants that follow good food safety guidelines. If you’re still concerned, ask whether the fish has been previously frozen or stick to the many sushi options that use cooked or vegetarian ingredients.
Another source of parasites is raw meat. Do you see a pattern forming here? Naturally, steak or lamb tartare can offer an excellent risk for parasitic infection. Not only does the whole dish revolve around raw meat, but many recipes call for the addition of a raw egg as well. While considered a delicious treat in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Ethiopia, this raw meat provides the risk for roundworms and the intracellular bacteria parasites salmonella, E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes.
If you’re going to eat it raw, you’ll need a very fresh, certified cut of meat and you’re going to want it prepared in a hygienic environment. Some chefs put an emphasis on the use of grass-fed livestock, as the bacteria in “grain fed” animals become use to an acidic environment, preparing them for survival in the human gut. Freezing a cut of beef for 14 days is believed to wipe out any parasitic risk. Exercise caution when choosing where you order it.
Everyone who eats meat loves the summertime grill masters sizzle on some serious beef patties.
But if steak tartare is the classy method of consuming raw beef, then a rare, pink hamburger may be considered the low-rent option for risking a bun full of E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes or salmonella. Undercooked hamburgers are a major risk factor for E. coli, with the number of outbreaks almost doubling during summer months.
Cleanliness and freshness are the most important factors for food safety. While you might enjoy the flavor of a pink center in an expensive gourmet burger, you shouldn’t accept that pinkish fast-food burger. A study published in the Annals of Diagnostic Pathology examined the contents of eight fast-food hamburgers and discovered Sarcocystis parasites in two of them. Unlike other parasites that might be lurking in a pink hamburger, Sarcocystis is usually asymptomatic.
Ham and pork
Some foods don’t even have to be raw. The USDA, FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rank simple deli meat right at the top of their lists for Listeria monocytogenes infection. These meats often feature extended refrigerated storage times, during which L. monocytogenes has adequate time to grow. The message here is to use fresh deli meat and only buy from sandwich shops that are going to do the same.
Pork poses the greatest health risk and a host of other parasitic risks as well if undercooked or poorly stored. Pork tapeworms pose a severe threat and sometimes spread to a host’s eyes, spine or brain with adverse health conditions and potentially fatal results. A Trichinella worm infection can cause dire symptoms, ranging from heart problems, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, fever and muscle pain, chills and even death. When traveling or vacationing, consider that roadside restaurant purchase or vending machine ham sandwich.
Make sure your meals of meats, sea foods and other fast food offering are well done. Remember, you can’t beat cleanliness and fresh ingredients when choosing your meals at a restaurant. When in doubt, order it well done.
You can rid your body of parasites by doing a “parasite cleanse.” A high quality parasite cleanse is best.
I recommend the parasite cleanse by Dr. Clark’s protocol for the most effective cleanse to kill over 100 different types of parasites.