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Did you know that one of the most commonly misunderstood causes of stomach upset is parasites? Although not often talked about, more than three-quarters of humans (adults and children) have them.
While I have never experienced them personally, a friend of mine shared a story about how she inadvertently discovered she had a parasite. She is a fan of fresh pineapple and had found an exceptionally sweet one. She was embarking on a seasonal two-day fast where she drank mostly water and herbal tea and ate light meals like green salad and, of course, fresh pineapple. Throughout the weekend, she would cut slices of the pineapple until it was gone. By Monday morning, she found herself on the bus to work when she started experiencing severe stomach cramping.
Arriving at her workplace, the pain intensified, and she went to the restroom. While inside, she expelled what she describes as a six-inch long clear, worm-like organism that was expelled from her body. She did not traditionally relieve herself-only this organism was released. Despite being afraid and unsure of what happened, she noted that she felt “light and free.” Upon further research, she learned that pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme known to be deadly to parasitic worms.
It is most potent in fresh pineapples, and her concentrated consumption just days before had started the cleansing effect of the enzyme.
It can be somewhat tricky to determine if you have a parasite because the symptoms mimic common stomach ailments. Symptoms of the parasitic infection can include stomach pain, cramping, bloating, diarrhea, excessive gas, nausea, vomiting and excessive fatigue. It is easy to attribute these symptoms to any number of things. What was thought of as a simple stomach ache that lasts for days and days could be something far worse with potentially long-term effects. When these symptoms are persistent and ongoing, it might be time to consider that parasites may be the culprit.
One of the easiest ways to contract a parasite is the oral-fecal route. Transmission of fecal matter through drinking water that has been inadvertently contaminated or consuming fruits and vegetables that have not been properly washed is extremely common. Parasites can also find their way into the human body through contaminated food and human-to-human contact. Making sure that fruits and vegetables are washed properly (food-grade peroxide is excellent) and ensuring that meats and seafood are of the highest quality can be one way to stave off parasites.
There are lots of different tests on the market that you can use to determine if you have parasites. A trip to the doctor is also a great way to determine if your abdominal pain and gastrointestinal issues are the faults of tiny hosts that have invaded your body.
At the doctor’s office, you will be asked for a stool sample to determine the presence of parasites. You may also be prescribed an elimination diet to rule out any other causes.
Words by Kaba Abdul-Fattaah