12 Foods that May Fight Intestinal Parasites
Although it isn’t the most fun topic to talk about, at one time or another we may contract bugs in our bodies that cause undesirable symptoms. While the first line treatment of intestinal parasites is prescription medication, you can also help the body fight these pests naturally through a healthful diet.
The two main types of intestinal parasites are helminthes and protozoa. Helminths are worms such as tapeworms pinworms and roundworms. Protozoa are one-celled bugs such as giardia and cryptosporidium. Parasites (meaning they feed off their host) can live in the body for years without causing symptoms. The most common signs include abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, gas or bloating, dysentery (loose stools containing blood and mucus, rash and itching, fatigue, and weight loss.
For the most part, living in the United States, we are at lower risk for contracting parasites than other areas of the world. The most common sources of parasites include poor sanitation (both food and water), undercooked meat or fish, and exposure to feces (human or animal). Children and those with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk.
Once diagnosed with a specific parasite, your doctor will prescribe a medication that may take care of the problem with one dose, or it may take several weeks. Take the medicine exactly as directed, or it may not work.
In addition to traditional medicine, you can also incorporate some dietary changes that can help rid the body of parasites. First, eliminate dietary sources of added sugar. Eat more whole grains, beans, and appropriately washed fruits and vegetables for fiber. Ask your doctor about taking a probiotic as this may help keep your digestive bacteria in check.
You may also want to incorporate these 12 anti-parasitic foods into your meal plans:
Chop fresh garlic to convert the phytochemical alliin to allicin, to which many of garlic’s health benefits are attributed. Allium sativa (garlic’s botanical name) has been found to have activity against roundworm, Giardia lamblia, and many other parasites. Try chopped garlic in a vegetable juice, on a side dish, or in a sandwich spread such as hummus.
Seeds are a great source of zinc, important for the function of the immune system. Pumpkin seeds may also help rid the body of tapeworms and roundworms. For the freshest seeds, remove the seeds from a pumpkin and expose them to air for a few days to dry them out. Try adding the raw seeds to salads or cereals or grind the seeds into a powder and add to a smoothie. If you prefer them baked, toss the seeds with oil and seasoning such as cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg – or even a sprinkle of plain salt.
Coconut contains lauric acid which is converted into monolaurin that kills or inactivates protozoa, including several species of ringworm and Giardia lamblia.
Pomegranates are high in antioxidants, potassium, vitamin C and a great source of fiber. The fruit has a sweet and sour flavor and can be used as a remedy for destroying worms in the intestinal tract. When in season (late summer to early winter), eat 1-3 per day.