by Dr. David Minkoff March 28, 2018 5 min read
Do you suffer from random bouts of brain fog? Chronic fatigue? Intense sugar cravings? Memory problems?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, or are experiencing some other physiological symptoms, it’s time you learned about a little-known plague in modern society: parasites.
Now, I’m not talking about some grotesque looking insect that’s hidden on your body – I’m talking about microorganisms that live inside your digestive system and upset the homeostatic balance in your body.
They consume vital nutrients that would otherwise provide your cells with the nutrition they need to thrive and create subtle physiological changes in your body that can significantly reduce your quality of life.
Now, you might be thinking that this is a problem that only exists in underdeveloped or “unsanitary” parts of the world – and, if so, you are dead wrong.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), at least 60 million Americans are chronically infected with Toxoplasma gondii. And that’s just one of many common parasites that thrive in today’s modern, sanitized society.
Sadly, most of those who are infected have adapted to a “new normal” and don’t even realize that they feel worse than they used to.
But the good news is: You CAN get rid of them and restore your health!
To do so, you need to understand what they are, how they thrive, and the steps you can take. Read on for the details!
On a deeper level, we almost always have parasites and we almost always will. Our microbiome is a diverse ecosystem that includes trillions of bacteria, viruses, bacteriophages, yeast, and – you guessed it – parasites.
But like any ecosystem, the health of our microbiome (and the rest of our body) is dependent on balance. The real tasks are to recognize the symptoms of imbalance, do what we can to get back into balance, and take active actions against opportunistic, invasive parasites that are overrunning the ecosystem of our gut.
To understand the scope of the problem, let’s look at some numbers.
As implausible as it sounds, the facts don’t lie. Some of the common parasitic infections include:
Gut parasites are an epidemic afflicting at least 25% of the population. Next time you’re in a crowded space, think about every fourth person you see.
The best approach to understand this is to look at this from the parasite’s view. A successful parasite is one that isn’t detected. They want to use your resources, but not so much that they provoke a noticeable reaction.
They have evolved all kinds of special tools that help them avoid detection by the immune system – evolutionary spy-gear so they can sneak around inside your body without alerting the immune guards.
They take advantage of weakened immune systems or poor gut health – conditions often linked to poor diet or chronic stress – and slowly, silently spread throughout our gut, robbing us of our vitality.
In lieu of obvious symptoms, we move on with our lives. We acclimate to how we feel while infected and forget that we used to feel different.
What does it feel like to have parasites running rampant throughout our system?
The simple answer is that you will feel “off” in one way or another. Various parasites cause individual symptoms, and the range of negative effects is very wide. Some of the most common effects of parasitic overrun in your digestive system include:
Now, just because you suffer from one or more of these doesn’t automatically mean that you have a parasite or two – but it does generally mean that there’s an imbalance in your digestive system. And parasites thrive on imbalance and make them much worse.
As mentioned above, parasites are everywhere. We all have them. We always have and always will.
Their microscopic eggs can be found on doorknobs, unwashed fruit, in the dirt, improperly cooked food… just about everywhere. Hygiene is important, to be sure, but it’s equally important not to become paranoid and sanitize everything in your life.
In fact, many studies show that hyper-sanitization can make your immune system weaker by depriving you of important microbial exposure. Counter-intuitively, too clean leaves you more prone to disease. 
The real culprit lies in a weakened immune system. This is what allows them to flourish in the first place. So now the question becomes “what weakens our immune system?”
This is a much simpler question, and most of us already know the answers:
The environment itself can determine which organisms thrive and which starve. Some bacteria like certain types of fats or fiber, others like a certain pH, and so on. Therefore, by controlling the environment that parasites live in – your gut – you can influence their ability to survive.
How do you do that?
Virtually all parasites thrive on one simple fuel: sugar.
One of the most helpful things you can do to manage your parasite load is to cut back on sugar and carbohydrates. This not only takes away their favorite food, it also makes your immune system stronger, so you can fight back better.
Like ecosystems in nature, your microbiome is a complex web of predators and prey, competing for resources through chemical warfare. There are many kinds of bacteria and healthy yeast that attack parasites and suppress their proliferation.
This means that one of the best resources to help you fend off parasite infections are probiotics and fermented foods. They help you re-establish healthy balance to your gut and keep parasites at bay.
This includes foods like:
Parasites thrive on imbalance and inattention. We can become used to feeling lethargic, to being forgetful, to feeling a certain way, justifying it with “that’s just how I am.”
But that’s not how it should be. Cultivate awareness for how you feel on the day to day. If you notice that you become fatigued more easily or that your memory seems strange, or that your breath is inexplicably awful… these are signs that something is amiss.
Humans are designed to be vibrant, alert, healthy, sharp-minded, and happy. A lot of us don’t feel like this because our lives are out of balance, one way or another. But we won’t recognize this unless we cultivate awareness for how we feel – so we can notice a difference when something’s off.
Once we are aware, then we can begin to take steps to return to balance – and sometimes that means dealing with hidden parasitic infections.
These little buggers can be a challenge to get rid of – usually involving a combination of diet and herbs, but a lot depends on your particular situation.
So, if you think you might have some unwelcome passengers, the best thing you can do is to speak with a qualified professional. Most mainstream medical doctors aren't properly trained to recognize or deal with parasites, so we recommend you see a naturopathic practitioner who has experience with parasites.
Or even better – if you’re in the area – come down and see Dr. Minkoff here at Lifeworks Wellness Center!
by Dr. David Minkoff
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