You will find 7 foods to avoid when you are infected with parasites in this article.
What are intestinal parasites?
Intestinal parasites are organisms that live in the intestines of humans and animals.
They harm their host in numerous ways, including depriving it of key nutrients and releasing toxins into its body.
How do people get infected with parasites?
People get infected with parasites:
- In the mother’s womb through the umbilical cord1,2,3
- Through the consumption of contaminated food
- By drinking contaminated water
- By touching contaminated soil, water, feces, or blood
7 Foods to avoid with parasites
Here is a list of the 7 foods to avoid when you are infected with parasites:
Regular sugar refers to sucrose, a disaccharide that consists of glucose and fructose4.
Sugar is essential for parasites
Parasites use sugar to fool your immune system
Another study revealed that the larvae and eggs of the blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni release sugar to attract the immune system, enabling them to go undetected7.
A similar study showed that the protozoan Trypanosoma brucei evades its host’s immune system by repeatedly releasing different sugars on its surface8.
Sugar prevents the digestion of parasites
β-galactosidase is a digestive enzyme that breaks down sugars, such as lactose9.
Research demonstrated that β-galactosidase digests the sugar-containing protecting structure of Alveolar echinococcosis larvae, leading to parasite abortion10.
When you eat sugar, your digestive system may not be able to produce enough β-galactosidase to digest both the sugar and the parasites.
Can you eat fruits if you have parasites?
Fruits contain simple sugars, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose11.
However, they don’t belong to the list of foods to avoid with parasites.
They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that make them beneficial to health12.
For example, studies have shown that berries, pomegranate, and figs have anti-parasitic properties13,14.
Can you eat honey if you have parasites?
Honey contains fructose and glucose15.
However, just like fruits, it doesn’t belong to the list of foods to avoid with parasites.
It is, namely, rich in vitamins and minerals15.
2. Dairy products
Dairy products are food products that contain milk. They include yogurt, cheese, and butter.
They all contain lactose, a sugar composed of galactose and glucose19.
As explained above, parasites thrive on sugar. Therefore, dairy products belong to the list of foods to avoid when infected with parasites.
3. Ultra-processed foods
Ultra-processed foods are industrial foods that typically contain 5 or more ingredients20.
Some of these ingredients are substances you wouldn’t use in culinary preparations at home. They include20:
- Hydrolyzed protein
- Modified starches
- Hydrogenated or interesterified oils
- Non-sugar sweeteners
These foods are low in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
Moreover, they are difficult to digest and therefore tend to increase putrefaction in your digestive system.
Intestinal parasites thrive in this type of environment.
4. Gluten-containing foods
Gluten is a substance that consists of two proteins (prolamin and glutenin) naturally found in some cereal grains.
When prolamin and glutenin mix with water, they almost immediately bind and form a sticky network that has a glue-like consistency.
This substance is viscoelastic and poorly soluble in water.
In the digestive system, gluten sticks to the intestinal walls, preventing the proper breakdown of foods and parasites.
We recommend diminishing the consumption of meat when you are infected with parasites.
The digestive system can take up to 2 days to fully digest meat, whereas it can breakdown fruits and vegetables in less than a day.
By slowing down your digestion and promoting putrefaction, meat increases parasite proliferation.
Furthermore, avoid eating raw meat as it may contain alive parasites and eggs.
As such, avoid the following dishes:
- Steak tartare
- Beef carpaccio
- Beef tataki
- Kibbeh nayeh
The digestive system can also take up to 2 days to fully digest fish, promoting putrefaction and parasite multiplication.
Therefore, we recommend reducing the consumption of fish.
Moreover, avoid eating raw fish, as it can also be contaminated with alive parasites and eggs.
Hence, avoid the following dishes:
- Sushi, maki, and sashimi
- Salmon tartare
- Tuna tataki
- Tuna or salmon tiradito
Watercress is an aquatic flowering plant native to Europe and Asia.
People eat this leafy green vegetable, among others, in salads, sandwiches, and soups.
As a result, it is better to avoid eating uncooked freshwater food, such as watercress, due to parasitic contamination.
Summary: Foods to avoid with parasites
Intestinal parasites are organisms that live in your intestines, causing you harm.
Sources of infection include an infected mother or contaminated food, water, matter.
The list of the 7 foods to avoid when you are infected with parasites is as follows:
- Sugar (apart from fruits and honey)
- Dairy products
- Ultra-processed foods
- Gluten-containing foods