Taste For Life proudly hosts blogs from some of the top nutritionists and life coaches in the country. Opinions expressed by the author are their own, and do not necessarily represent those of Taste For Life or its editorial staff. For questions about this blog or its content, please contact Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., C.N.S..
Your “healthy” sunscreen is packed. CHECK! Your wide brimmed hat is in the bag. CHECK! Even healthy snacks are now part of your travel accompaniments. But there’s one thing I bet will be forgotten on far too many of the approximately 1.7 billion trips taken this year.
No matter where your travels may lead you (even here in the USA) you need to be proactive when it comes to uninvited guests—parasites, that is! These can lurk in the most pristine water, in ice cubes (absolutely none in drinks, please), fresh water lakes, and on those white silver sands.
How exactly do they make their way into your body? I hate to tell you that it’s easier than you’d think. I bet you’re quite aware that it’s imperative to be cautious of your diet during international travel. Parasites can lurk in all sorts of food and drink. Plus, the local population might not even be aware because they’ve developed an immunity—but you have not.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re safe in certain places because you can be anywhere and come in contact with parasites—such as dining at a trendy sushi restaurant, consuming undercooked meat at a steak house, or a drinking out of a glass that wasn’t properly washed.
Seemingly Innocent Sources
But it doesn’t end at dietary. You can pick up parasites simply by taking a dip in a local body of water or even unwittingly walking through scat of some sort. I recently became privy to the story of a man who had what his doctor originally thought was a varicose vein in his foot. Upon noticing that the location of this vein was moving, they discovered that it was actually a parasite living inside his foot that he’d picked up during a recent trip!
Whether you’re in a remote jungle or you’re walking along the beach, ensure that you’re wearing the proper footwear to prevent coming in direct contact with sneaky parasites.
Along these lines, a recent study of the brain tissue of deceased patients who’d suffered from neurological conditions found that 19 of those studies contained three Borrelia pathogens—including the one known to cause Lyme disease. This is another discovery in the growing body of research showing a strong connection between untreated parasitic infections and Lyme disease. Many believe that they picked up this frustrating and debilitating illness from horseback riding, time spent in the woods, and most certainly, excursions while on vacation.
To make matters worse, symptoms often don’t immediately appear, so you could be settled in back home before while the parasites have been silently multiplying and preparing for attack, unbeknown to you.
If a selection of these symptoms has recently popped up (or have been plaguing you for some time), there might be an issue.
- Anxiety, nervousness and depression
- Frequent infections including yeast infections and colds
- Nagging cravings for sweets
- Intestinal issues like intermittent constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and gas
- Joint or muscle pain
- Difficulty sleeping or nighttime teeth grinding
- Fatigue that won’t let up
- Dark circles around or under the eyes
- Acne, eczema, hives, rashes or other skin conditions
- Sensory disorders such as vertigo, brain fog or poor coordination
Prepare Before You Pack
So, what can you do?
While you’re on your trip, you can—and should—be very aware of what you eat. Research restaurants, stay away from street vendors, be cautious of pre-cut fruits and veggies that could have been washed in contaminated water, and avoid undercooked meat, fish, dairy, and cold topping and condiments.
You can take it a big step further by prepping your body prior to your travels. My mentor Dr. Hazel Parcells (who lived to be 106!) was a huge believer in detox baths—and so am I. The idea behind these baths is that they supercharge your immunity by balancing your cellular pH level, creating an undesirable environment for parasitic invaders.
Please do try this bath once or twice a week during the time leading up to your trip, as well as after your return.
- Run a tub to the hottest temperature you can manage. Dissolve 1 pound of salt (like Kosher salt) and 1 pound of baking soda in the water, and begin to soak.
- Sip a glass of warm water mixed with ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of baking soda for internal pH balance.
- Get out of the bath when the water is cool. Don’t shower for at least four hours.