As demonstrated in the prisoner study on Giardia and the mucosal barrier, healthy first-line immunity goes a long way toward preventing infections. A healthy immune defense relies on good hormone balance and a strong gastrointestinal system. You can take simple precautions daily to help prevent infection.
One of the most effective ways to prevent a parasitic infection is to wash your hands several times throughout the day, especially after contact with people and animals. Make sure you get under the fingernails, and if you bite your fingernails, by all means stop! Antibacterial liquid solutions are effective for sanitizing.
The vast majority (85 to 90 percent) of reported cases of food-borne illness in the United States are believed to be caused by a lack of hygiene and food-handling errors in the home and commercial kitchen. Without passing a single new law or hiring any additional government inspectors, food-borne illness can be reduced dramatically if everyone learned simple, safe food-handling and preparation procedures. Many infectious medicine experts recommend peeling and thoroughly washing all fruits and vegetables, thoroughly freezing and cooking meat to kill microorganisms, and avoiding buffets and salad bars that do not appear fresh and well-managed.
Eating Out. If you must eat out, avoid uncooked foods and rare meats, unless you are very confident in the food handlers in the kitchen and dining area. We all love a good meal. However, minutes of satisfaction now are not worth a lifetime of jeopardized health. Be smart and moderate your consumption of high-risk foods, especially in public facilities.
Clean Water. A clean water supply is vital. Drinking bottled water is one option, but some brands—hint: they are better known for their soft drinks—may not be any better than water straight from the tap. In fact, any liquid bottled in a plastic container runs the risk of being tainted by chemicals in the plastic. Because most bottled water isn’t chlorinated, any bacteria already present can breed and flourish, so buy freshly bottled water whenever possible.
Water stored in glass or stainless steel is much safer than that stored in plastic. Water filters are essential. Given the importance of healthful water, the initial setup and ongoing maintenance of a filtration system is worth the cost and effort! Bottled water ranges from $0.90 per gallon to $9.00 per gallon. Tap water, on average, costs $0.002 per gallon! And it’s not just about the water you drink or cook with. The water you bathe in should also be the purest possible since your skin absorbs it.
Find out what is in your tap water. Contact your local utility and request a copy of the Annual Water Quality Report. This report will give you information about any contaminant violations in your water system.
Travel Wise. Since travelers commonly report picking up parasites, researching your destination before you depart is critical. A good resource for travelers is the Centers for Disease Control website (www.cdc.gov), which provides information on recent outbreaks, necessary preventive measures, and treatment options.
Zoonotic Disease. Finally, we cannot overemphasize the risk associated with human and animal contact (conditions caused by cross-contamination between animals and humans are known as zoonotic diseases). Take, for example, a Biohealth doctor named Mike. Mike did some stool testing, which confirmed a suspected Helicobacter pylori infection. He treated it, and follow-up testing showed successful eradication. Not long after that, familiar H. pylori symptoms such as bloating and acid reflux returned. He tested and again was positive on stool for H. pylori. Since H. pylori can be transferred by human fluids, we encouraged him to test his wife. His wife, also positive for H. pylori, underwent the treatment alongside Mike.
Months after determining they had been rid of the bacteria, the symptoms returned. Then an idea popped up: Mike and his wife are dog lovers. They have two big, beautiful Labrador retrievers that they allow to lick their faces, even their mouths! We tested the dogs and, lo and behold, both were positive for H. pylori.
A healthy first-line immune defense and preventive testing of all that we are in physical contact with—human or otherwise—is paramount to preventing chronic stress.
Detecting Parasitic Infections
Unfortunately, no single defining symptom indicates that you have a parasitic infection. Fatigue, night sweats, irregular bowel movements, and stomach irritability are all possible signs of hosting a parasite. However, parasites may not manifest any obvious symptoms or symptoms may be delayed until decades after initial exposure, when the damage is substantial and possibly irreversible.
As mentioned, we recommend that everyone routinely perform diagnostic tests. Stool and blood tests can determine whether you have parasites and identify the type and severity of the infection. Some patients delay the collection of their stools or put off getting blood drawn because of the unpleasant nature of these procedures. A little discomfort is a small price to pay for potentially adding years—and vitality—to your life.
Getting Rid of the Parasites
Although it’s usually best to begin treating parasites as soon as possible, undertaking treatment on your own is not advisable. Using readily available anti-parasitic herbs and “natural” formulas, which are often not strong enough to kill off the parasites, can cause the parasites to migrate deep into the intestinal tissues or other organs, making them more difficult to detect and eradicate. In gluten intolerant individuals, inflammation and deep pockets form in the gut, creating places for parasites to hide and possibly remain safe from both natural products and antibiotics.
Each parasite requires unique intervention. Working with a knowledgeable provider who is experienced in diagnosing and treating parasites while supporting the body’s systems during treatment is imperative. Parasitic infections are one of the greatest threats to your health and chief contributors to the Chronic Stress Response.
Be aware. Get tested!