I've spent the better part of the last 20 years as a Holistic Nutritionist and Colon Therapist, so without a doubt we'll be talking about poop. But MAKE **IT HAPPEN goes beyond epic poops.
Before I went back to school to study Holistic Nutrition, I was a Social Worker. I didn't have any particular desire to change my vocation, but having endured debilitating health problems since my early 20's I had a strong desire to figure out why I was so sick. As it turns out, what I learned in nutrition school not only taught me everything I needed to know to restore my health, it wasn't terribly complicated (anatomy, biology and body metabolism courses notwithstanding).
At least, it wasn't terribly complicated in principle. Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food, sums it up nicely: "Eat foods, mostly plants, not too much." The trouble is, in practice, it's a whole other story. And the reasons why that is are complicated indeed.
The food industry is a complex, massive global conglomerate of businesses engaged in the invention, preparation, manufacturing, packaging and distribution of foodstuffs. At once imperceptible and ubiquitous, the food industry is undeniably a major contributor (unwittingly or not) to the overwhelming confusion surrounding food, diet and nutrition.
Purveyors of diet and nutrition information are another source of confusion, from doctors and naturopaths and drug and nutraceutical companies, to nutritionists and dietitians, to food scientists and bloggers. The only thing on which we can all agree is that there is virtually nothing on which we all agree.
Then comes our individual experiences with food. No single diet is ideal for everyone, even if you're eating clean. Is meat right for you? What about dairy? Is raw always better than cooked? Are all whole grains bad?
I regret that I don't have quick and easy answers for you. What I do have is books- a lot of books about anything and everything having to do with food, diet and nutrition. I found many answers to my own health questions within the pages of these books, so I'd like to share my books with you. Every couple of week, I'll either be giving a synopsis, or choose interesting excerpts, or thought-provoking quotes from books selected at random. My hope is that you, too, will find some answers to your health questions.
First up is a book about parasites. We're all exposed to them, but parasites aren't something most of us ever think about. Read on to find out why you might want to learn a thing or two about these pesky critters.
The following is a condensed version of The Parasite Menace by Skye Weintraub, ND. Some of the text been altered for practical purposes, however its core message remains intact.
The Parasite Menace
Chapter 1: The Parasite Menace
How many people do you know who have some type of chronic health problem? How many of them over age 45 are on blood pressure medication, some type of antacid, or something to control their blood sugar? Do you know someone who suffers from chronic fatigue or who has been diagnosed with cancer? Or someone who has been seriously ill for months and doctors can't find anything wrong with them, so they're told it's just stress? There are many factors that contribute to this decline in health, but parasites are one of the most commonly overlooked causes.
Most people think that parasitic infections only occur in distant parts of the world, such as developing countries or in the tropics. This is simply not true. But this misconception has resulted in parasites being overlooked as the possible cause of many illnesses.
What Are Parasites?
Parasites are organisms that live in or on another organism (the host), at the expense of that host. The parasites referred to in this book are usually the ones that live inside the human body, feeding off foods consumed by the host, or consuming body tissues and cells. Their sizes range from microscopic amoebas to large intestinal worms that can grow to several feet long. Over 100 types of human parasites are known and a body can host more than one kind at a time.
Worldwide, parasitic infections that cause diarrhea are the greatest single cause of illness and death. Parasites are no longer a disease of developing countries, and while those with compromised immunity may be more susceptible, no one is entirely immune to the possibility of contracting a parasite.
Parasites secrete substances that are toxic to the body. The debilitating- and potentially fatal- symptoms of acute dysentery are caused by such toxins. On the other hand, you could have a chronic parasitic infection that secretes such low levels of toxins over a long period that no obvious symptoms are produced. Over time, however, these toxins can cause or contribute to a variety of health problems.
What Does A Parasite Eat?
Some parasites love sugar or other simple carbohydrates, while some steal nutrients from the foods you eat before your body is able to metabolize them. Intestinal parasites can live in a human body for up to 30 years, robbing it of nutrients all the while.
Some parasites feed directly on their host by attaching to cells or tissues which they then consume. These types of parasites are significantly more dangerous than intestinal parasites, because they can ultimately cause damage to vital organs.
How Do We Get Parasites?
There are any number of ways for parasites to find their way into a human: insect bites, walking barefoot, and eating undercooked meat and fish. Raw fruit and vegetables are also a frequent source. Some of our produce comes from developing countries where sanitation facilities are less advanced, or they practice the use of human feces as fertilizer.
Food handlers who fail to wash their hands play a significant role in the spread of parasites. Considering that many parasites are spread by fecal-oral contact, this lack of personal hygiene is one of the most common means of transmission.
Parasites can also get into the body by putting hands in the mouth after being in contact with something that has a parasite on or in it, making kissing, sexual contact or even inhaling dust that contains the eggs or cysts of these organisms possible sources of infection. Ingesting water from a stream, creek, lake or river, as well as close contact with pets or other animals are also possible ways to acquire parasites.
How Many People Have Parasites?
Approximately one-half of the population carries at least one form of parasite. Twenty-five percent of these have an active infection with symptoms. As noted above, you don't have to travel to a foreign country to contract a parasite. You can get amoebas, giardia, cryptosporidium, pinworms, whipworms, tapeworms and dozens of other types of parasites right here at home.
Children, the elderly, and the immune-compromised are especially vulnerable to parasitic infection. Children spend much of their time outdoors, playing in dirt and sand, and they are not averse to putting their unwashed hands in their mouths. Much of the malnutrition, fatigue, and diarrhea experienced by older people is due to parasites. That being said, people of all ages travel around the world, swim in lakes, rivers and oceans, eat meat, fish, produce, and prepared foods, experience health issues that can compromise immunity, and have close contact with their pets, making virtually anyone a potential target for parasites.
What Will Your Doctor Do?
If you go to your doctor with symptoms of diarrhea or fever, you will most likely be given medication to stop the symptoms, and their cause may never be identified. Even if your doctor suspects parasites, it is not unusual to obtain a false negative result. This can be due to poor laboratory technique, incomplete stool samples, parasites that are in a difficult to detect phase of their development, using the wrong test, or that there is no test to detect your particular parasite. Currently, there are tests available to detect about 50 different parasites, yet there are over 1000 types of parasites that can infect humans.
Next: Chapter 2- Do I Have Parasites?