Is there really such a thing as a parasite cleanse? Diet plays a role in your overall health, and it can even influence your likelihood of a parasitic infection. But whether or not a parasite cleanse diet is helpful is quite debatable. Dietary measures to curtail parasitic infections are often more theoretical than factual, with little conclusive evidence to support theories that nutrition is necessarily how to get rid of parasites.
The two main types of parasite infections contracted by humans are helminthes and protozoa. They get inside your intestinal tract and begin to survive off the nutrients you supply. And although they can be harmful and lead to an array of symptoms, they often go unnoticed and undiagnosed.
Helminth parasites are multi-celled and do not multiply inside you. Tapeworms, pinworms, and ringworm are common varieties. Protozoa, on the other hand, are single-celled parasites that can multiply rapidly in the body and lead to serious infection. Protozoa are typically contracted through contaminated food and water (as a result of coming into contact with contaminated feces), and the most common types of these parasites are Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium parvum.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of intestinal parasites include:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Gas or bloating
- Loose stools containing blood or mucus
- Rash or itching around the rectum or vulva
- Stomach pain or tenderness
- Weight loss
- Passing a worm in your stool
Now, other than the last symptom, how do you know if you have parasites? After all, those are pretty common symptoms for a number of health conditions. Getting to the doctor for a diagnosis is the only way you’ll find out, and from there, you can come up with a plan on how to get rid of intestinal parasites.
Causes of Intestinal Parasites
Certain conditions increase the chances of infection. They include:
- Living in or visiting an area with known parasites
- Poor sanitation
- Poor hygiene
- Age (children and elderly folks have a higher risk)
- Institutional care
- Weakened immune system
Parasite Cleanse Diet: Foods to Eat
Before continuing, note that the efficacy of any diet that claims to cleanse or detox your body from parasites is highly questionable. A “worm cleanse diet,” “diet for parasite cleanse,” “parasite cleanse recipes,” and any other natural parasite cleanse programs should all be approached with caution, and used only if you’re also receiving treatment for your condition by a doctor.
These nutritional methods may work to enhance medical treatment, but relying on them solely to improve your condition can be dangerous and uncomfortable. You should only attempt to handle your parasites naturally if you’ve been instructed by your doctor. In some cases—in fact, many cases—the parasite may simply pass through you naturally. In such cases, your food choices can help speed up the process.
Garlic was used in ancient Chinese and Indian medicine to treat a host of conditions, including parasitic infection. But does garlic kill parasites? It’s possible that it can be effective against protozoa. There is research to suggest that garlic extract can improve the symptoms of infection, with one milligram (mg) twice per day being an adequate dosage.
Active compounds in garlic that have health benefits include allicin, ajoene, and other organosulfides, and may make it a helpful option to reduce parasitic symptoms.
Wormwood can be taken as a supplement or added to food to aid in your combat against worms. There are studies showing it might be effective, and if it’s used in directed amounts, it can be safe. However, as with any herb, dosing is very important because they can become toxic. Use under the direction of a doctor and do not exceed the dosage listed on the label.
Studies in animal and in-vitro settings have shown that probiotics can be promising as a natural treatment for parasites. Research in humans, however, is lacking. Although it stands to reason that probiotics like Lactobacillus would be effective in promoting healthy bacteria to kill or control parasite, unfortunately, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest it as a viable option.
Conversely, the good thing is that probiotics can have other health benefits and are highly unlikely to cause any health problems. Therefore, if you want to take them to potentially improve and strengthen gut bacteria, you should be safe to do so.
4. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are quite promising as a natural parasite cleanse, particularly in regard to tapeworms. One study found that the combination of pumpkin seeds and areca nut extract was able to expel tapeworms in a relatively timely fashion—about two hours.
Pumpkin seeds on their own can work, but it will take about a day for your system to experience a worm cleanse. Diet can help, but once again, it might not be the fastest.
Air-dried papaya seeds have also shown benefits as an option for battling tapeworms. Because they are cheap and easily accessible, you might be inclined to use them if you’re wondering how to get rid of worms. In humans, one study showed that a 20 ml dosage cleared up 70% to 100% of parasites, with the only caveat being that it took seven days. If you are in no rush and your doctor is fine with taking this approach, papaya seeds may be helpful.
What makes papaya helpful for enzymes may be its concentration of digestive enzymes that can create an inhospitable environment for parasite survival.
Pomegranate is another fruit that may have some protective benefits against parasites. One study showed reduced giardia protozoa in stool samples of groups who took pomegranate peel extract. However, it took 28 days and still did not fully remove it from the body, which could be dangerous. Once again, it could be a worthy complement to medical treatment, but should be discussed with your doctor.
The oil extracted from clove flower buds contains active ingredients such as carvacrol, thymol, eugenol, and cinnamaldehyde. Eugenol in particular was found to promote apoptosis-like death in a parasite called Leishmania donovani, which is common in tropical climates. However, clove essential oil is very potent even in small amounts. You should always dilute with water or carrier oil such as coconut before use, and only after getting the “okay” from your physician.
Parasite Diet Cleanse: Foods To Avoid
Just like there are foods that may limit the growth and severity of a parasitic infection, there are some foods that promote their survival. These include:
1. Processed Food
Processed foods aid parasites by giving them the nutrients they like, promoting bad bacteria and leading to an inflamed environment that makes it easier for a parasite to survive and thrive. These foods should be cut out of your diet if a parasite is diagnosed or suspected.
Refined sugars particularly help parasites grow and multiply, by supplying them with easy energy and an ideal environment to exist. Cut these out of your diet. It’s also important to avoid fruit juices and smoothies that are high in sugar. Eat whole fruits or extracts and avoid juicing.
Pork will not necessarily worsen a parasitic infection, but it’s important to make sure that any pork you eat is properly cooked. When it’s not, it can lead to an infection.
Parasite Cleanse Diet: Nutritional Supplements
As mentioned, probiotics, papaya seed extract, pomegranate peel and pumpkin seed extracts may all supply some benefits to treating parasites.
1. Vitamin C
Additionally, the antioxidant, immune-system supporting benefits of vitamin C may come in handy, as well as a zinc supplement to add some additional immune system support.
Using zinc is not necessarily going to get rid of an infection, but much like vitamin C, it may help prevent the incidence of one or provide immune strength to stop it from becoming a concern.
When it comes to a “parasite cleanse diet,” food should really be selected on its overall nutritional value. Fiber, antioxidants, and nutrient-rich items are really the best way to optimize your system for the threat of a potential attack.
Natural Parasite Cleanse Recipes
When it comes to optimizing your chances of protecting yourself against parasites and getting them out as fast as possible, nutrition can play a role. Some of the best practices to keep in mind are to first wash all fruit, vegetables, and legumes thoroughly to relieve any possible contamination. The next is to cook meats until they reach a safe temperature. You can find those temperatures here.
Another thing to focus on is eating plenty of fiber to help speed up transit time, which is ultimately how you get rid of worms. In humans, fiber-rich foods tend to promote healthy gut bacteria, which can also be a strong ally in a battle with a parasitic infection.
Including beets, papaya, garlic, pumpkin seeds, and carrots in your diet may also help, as will making sure you drink plenty of water to flush your system.
Here is a great recipe you can try to get rid of gut parasites.
Toasted Pumpkin Seed Beet Salad
- 1 bunch beets with greens
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
- 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Cut greens from beets and set aside. Wash beets and place them in an ovenproof dish. Add one inch of water to the bottom of the dish and cover.
- Roast until beets are slightly soft to the touch, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Cut beets into bite-size chunks.
- Wash beet greens by submerging in a sink full of cold water. Shake off water and chop the greens into bite-size pieces.
- Mix oil, salt, vinegar, mustard, pepper and garlic in a small bowl and set aside.
- Combine roasted beets and beet greens in a bowl. Coat lightly with dressing, add toasted pumpkin seeds and serve.
Work with Your Doctor for the Best Recovery
So can a parasite cleanse diet work for you? It really depends. Talking to your doctor about your options after receiving a positive diagnosis is really the best approach. In some cases, they may express support for taking care of the problem naturally using diet, while in other cases, they may want to handle it using modern medicine.
It really comes down to your individual case. At the end of the day, if you eat a healthy diet, you could limit the impact and likelihood of an infection in the first place.
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