This subject is not pleasant, but not everybody realises how easy parasites are to acquire and how much damage they can do to our health.
Parasites often invade without us knowing, growing and surviving within our bodies while producing various symptoms that can affect us negatively, or be undetectable altogether.
In this Naturopath Masterclass, find out what parasites are, where we are most susceptible to them in everyday life and how to avoid and prevent getting infected.
What are Parasites?
The term Parasite is ordinarily applied to a weaker organism that obtains food and shelter from another organism – a host – and derives all the benefits from having that association.
The transmission of parasites involves three factors:
- a source of infection
- a mode of transmission
- the presence of a susceptible host
The combined effect of these three factors determines the prevalence of the parasite at any given time and place.
What’s important to realise is that they don’t necessarily stay in the bowels – they can travel throughout the body via the blood.
An infected individual may become a carrier without showing any clinical manifestations, and therefore serve as a potential source of infection to others. The ease of further transmission depends upon the habits and communal associations of its host.
The distinction between parasitic infection and parasitic disease should also be made. With parasitic infections, the infected host may experience little damage and no obvious symptoms. In the case of parasitic diseases, however, the infected individual develops pathologic changes and undesirable symptoms of varying degrees.
As the intention of the parasite is to live off its host, parasitic infections – which aren’t always detrimental to the host – are most common.
Of course, our trusty immune systems have ways of combating parasites, recognisable by symptoms such as fever and fatigue. One example of this is Eosinophilia, which is disease-fighting white blood cells (Eosinophils) produced when a parasitic infection is detected.
Types of Parasites and Sources of Infection
To give you an idea, here are various common parasites and their related sources of infection, which, going about day to day life, you may be more frequently exposed to than you know.
TYPE – SOURCE OF INFECTION
- Giardia lamblia – cysts in food and water contaminated by faeces
- Trichomoniasis – vaginal and prostatic secretion (STD)
- Entamoeba – cysts in food and water
- Toxoplasma – infected meat and cysts in cat stools
- Ascaris – eggs (ascaris roundworm) in soil or unwashed vegetables
- Taenia saginata – cysts in beef (beef tapeworm)
- Taenia solium – cysts in pork (pork tapeworm)
- Echinococcus – dog faeces in soil
- Schistosoma bilharzia – cercaria in freshwater, developed from snails
- Clonorchis sinensis – freshwater fish
As aforementioned, a host can harbour these parasites and not be aware they are infected (not show any obvious symptoms), so it’s vital to know all the sources where parasites can be picked up and how to prevent getting infected.
Correct Hygiene and Food Preparation
With a new strain of coronavirus affecting all our lives, it’s more important than ever to be aware of the various infections our bodies are susceptible to. Similar to COVID-19, parasitic infections can take a while for symptoms to manifest, making them difficult to detect and more of a threat than most of us realise.
As parasites develop in places of uncleanliness, such as faeces and contaminated water, we must make sure to be aware of proper hygiene both at home and outdoors, such as when our kids are playing outside. This includes frequent hand washing, and taking extra care around animals and pets.
Correct food preparation is also important, with all fruits and vegetables requiring adequate washing before eating and all meats and fish to be well-cooked to prevent parasitic infestations from developing. This goes without saying but, often in our busy lives, basic hygiene practices are easy to be unobserved or overlooked.
Water Filtration and Purification
It is no ploy that we are all well-advised to filter our drinking water – not only for harmful chemicals but for parasites as well.
In nearly all our cities, it isn’t impossible that drinking from the tap can give you a parasitic infestation. If no filter is available, it is wise to boil your water for 5 minutes before making that cup of tea or drinking on its own.
On the Naturopath Online Store, we sell high-performance water filters – proven to be safer than regular kettles – for chemical-free water purification. These are available for countertop installation as well as portable, ideal for families at home and those who need fast, reliable water filtration while out and about.
For our patients, we also sell ParaDetox herbal mixtures that eliminate toxins and other harmful pathogens found in regular tap water.
You can take a quick moment to view our available water filters now at Naturopath Australia.