We know that we can acquire parasites form our food, our water, from each other, from dirt, from animals, etc., so let's discuss how we can take steps to reduce our risks. Of course, staying healthy is essential, but this blog focuses on external methods of risk reduction like personal hygiene habits, food preparation, etc.
Practice Good Hygiene
Wash our hands:
I personally do not eat mammals anymore. I have many reasons for this, but one is food safety. Cows, goats, and especially pigs are known carriers of many types of parasites including tapeworms and roundworms.
But if you do eat meat, it needs to handled and prepared in a manner to reduce the risks of acquiring a parasitic infection or other food borne illness.
According to the CDC: "Curing (salting), drying, smoking, and/or microwaving meat alone does not consistently kill infective worms" – that is, these methods are not effective at destroying parasitic eggs or larval cysts. NOTE: Microwaves are not a safe method of "cooking" food. I never use one and haven't in about 10 years.
Freezing is not effective against all pathogens – that is, it will not destroy all parasitic eggs and cysts, but it will destroy many species and reduce the overall amount. This recommendation only applies to fish not mammalian meat, bivalves, or shellfish.
Freezing recommendations for fish, per the CDC (Centers for Disease Control):
At -4°F (-20°C) or below for 7 days (total time), OR
At -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid, & storing at -31°F (-35°C) or below for 15 hours, OR
At -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid and storing at -4°F (-20°C) or below for 24 hours.
According to the CDC, Trichinella spiralis (the parasitic worm that causes the disease called trichinellosis or trichinosis) is destroyed after freezing pork and other infected mammals for at least 20 days at -5˚ F [-15˚ C].
Cooking recommendations, per the CDC (Centers for Disease Control):
Whole Cuts of Beef, Pork, and other domestic animals 145˚ F [63˚ C]
Fish (with fins) 145˚ F [74˚ C]
Ground Beef (and other red meats) 160˚ F [71˚ C]
Ground Pork (including sausages) 160˚ F [71˚ C]
Poultry (whole cuts and ground) 165˚ F [74˚ C]
For All Wild Game (whole cuts and ground) 160˚ F [72˚ C]
Let sit for three (3) minutes after reaching the minimum temperatures listed above.
According to USDA, "A 'rest time' is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven, or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed from the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys pathogens."
Insects, Mosquitos, and Ticks
Other thoughts and concerns:
I also decided to quit eating all mammals a few years ago, not just because they carry all types of parasites. I love cows and I don't want to eat them. I never liked pork, so that was not an issue either way. If you eat meat, please raise your own, hunt, or buy from a small farmer that is taking care of the herd by providing proper care to reduce parasites in their animals and is also providing a sanitary and humane environment for the animals that will help reduce the risk of the animals of being infected. Also we need to be aware of all of the negatives that are associated with Factory Farming (CAFO - Confined Animal Feeding Operations).
It must be noted that humans do not need to eat meat to get protein. Protein is found in all foods. Of course, certain foods are higher in protein than others. It also must be noted that many people over consume protein and this negatively impacts their health by overworking their kidneys & livers, reducing fat metabolism, etc. I will be writing a BLOG on protein next month. Most magazine articles cite the wrong calculation; because they replace the word pound with kilogram … they are not equivalent.
The calculation per the World Health Organization (WHO), National Institutes of Health [NIH], Harvard Heath, Institute of Medicine, the United Kingdom's Food Safety Guidelines, etc. results in about 55 grams of protein daily for an average male adult. This amount will vary based on gender, age, and for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Total Daily Protein = 0.8 grams of protein per KILOGRAM of body weight per day...
(that is, ideal body weight not excess weight, as adipose (i.e., fat) does not require daily protein for maintenance). I read it in magazines and online as Total Daily Protein = 0.8 grams of protein per POUND of body weight. That results in a recommendation 2.2 times higher than what all leading health agencies recommend. It is also interesting that journalists will cite the aforementioned agencies and still not get the calculation right. I guess in America, a POUND equals a KILOGRAM. This mathematical error have many of us believing that we need over twice the amount of protein that we truly need. A lot of protein bars brag about having 20 grams or more of protein. It is not healthy to eat denatured (that is, isolated) proteins often paired with excess sugar. We also need to be more concerned with meeting the necessary requirements of the individual essential amino acids and not concerned only the total amount of protein grams. We need quality protein that provides us adequate amounts of essential amino acids. Lastly, all protein and essential amino acids requirements can easily be met on a vegetarian diet and yes, even a vegan diet if one eats a healthy diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, tubers, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes like peas, beans, peanuts, and lentils. (Note: grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds should be enzyme activated AKA germinated or sprouted for optimum health benefits.)
As many of you know, I was infected with a fish tapeworm from eating sashimi in 2002. According to the CDC, fish tapeworms (Diphyllobothrium sp.) can be destroyed by freezing based on specified temperatures for a minimum period of time outlined in the chart below. Keep in mind there are other species of parasites that may be found in fish (and meat as well) that are freeze resistant – that is, difficult or impossible to destroy by freezing.
That said be warned freezing does not destroy the species of tapeworms found in mammals or other parasites that can be found in meat and/or fish. I personally will not eat any fish that is raw or undercooked, as I am not putting my health at risk by placing my trust in freezing being 100% effective for all parasites that fish carry or if I am out at a restaurant that the fish was actually frozen for the proper time at the proper temperature. At home, I do both. I freeze my fish for at least a month, because some parasites may take longer to destroy and then I cook to the proper temperature of 145˚ F. I also pair my fish with anti-parasitic foods, such as sliced raw garlic, cayenne pepper, horseradish, wasabi, etc. In my opinion, that is fish that is safe for human consumption. Did I mention that I think that catfish, tilapia, shark, any fish from China, etc. are not fit for human consumption? There are definite reasons to avoid the above and to be very careful from where you food is sourced. I eat sardines, cod, wild caught salmon, (clean) tuna, anchovies, flounder, trout, and haddock.
To Your Health!
SOURCES for Food Safety:
Diphyllobothrium latum (and other species) FAQs
CDC: Be Food Safe: Protect Yourself from Food Poisoning
CDC: Parasites - Trichinellosis (also known as Trichinosis) https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/trichinellosis/prevent.html
SOURCES for Protein Requirements:
United Kingdom's Food Safety Guidelines - Page 5.
Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (2005). Chapter: 10 Protein and Amino Acids. Page 589.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider before embarking on any diet, fast, exercise, or supplementation program and/or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. Do not use or consume any wild plants based solely on the information on this website. © 2016-2021 I Love Iodine. All Rights Reserved.