It may come as a surprise, but parasites are a disturbingly common un-diagnosed problem in the United States.
It seems impossible, right? Something that happens over there in developing countries, but not here.
How could parasites flourish in modern, sanitized culture? Where do they hide? And what can we do to prevent it?
It’s time to get real about the silent outbreak nobody wants to talk about (especially doctors).
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. So 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. According to the CDC at least 60 million Americans are chronically infected with Toxoplasma gondii. And that’s just one of them.
Another 3.1 million are infected with Trichomoniasis. And there are dozens more species, not even counting Candida, the fungus chronically afflicting the intestines of millions.
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.
So what does it feel like?
It’s hard to say, but mostly it will manifest in feeling “off” in one way or another. Obviously, this covers an extremely broad range of effects, so here is a partial list:
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 actually makes 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 kind 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 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!
* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease.
The importance of having a well-functioning and healthy immune system has become increasingly obvious in recent times.
Sadly, everyone seems to have a different answer as to how you should go about strengthening your immune system. When you go to your local health and wellness shop, you might see twenty or thirty products that tout their “immune boosting” powers. An Amazon search reveals thousands of results.
Well, we’re here to tell you about an effective and ancient remedy that has been in use for over two thousand years: the red reishi mushroom.
We’ve all heard about all the negative effects of stress and the modern lifestyle.
We’re all rushing around, overworked, in a constant state of fight-or-flight and it has disastrous effects on our health.
But what if “stress” wasn’t the real problem?
What if our bodies knew exactly how to cope with the intensity of modern life… if we just gave the body what it needed to thrive?
And the key may be one little mineral.
I hope this finds you healthy and able to still get outside (or inside) for a daily run during this trying time of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of us are grieving several losses including race cancellations. Though it's a bummer, I want you to know that your hard-earned training is far from wasted.
Those miles are in your legs and all kinds of wonderful benefits have occurred including the addition of mitochondria, adding new capillary beds for increased blood flow, and strengthening the heart muscle for future training.
As athletes, it's important for us to be proactive in maintaining a strong immune system. We're not only doing this for our own prevention but also our loved ones that we spend time with.
Read on for 5 tips to consider as you seek to stay healthy.