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PAR AS I TI C AT TACK HOW DO YOU FIND OUT IF YO U HAVE A PARASITE? IS A PARA SITE T URNING YOU INT O A SUGAR MONSTER? With some of the larger parasites, it can be easy to discover that you're hosting a visitor. With threadworms, for example, you may see tiny white 'threads' in your poo. But the single-celled parasites, including the others described on the left, are impossible to confirm without a stool test. Your GP can run a basic test; but sometimes it won't pick up all types of parasites, or you may need multiple tests before an infection is accurately diagnosed. The best approach can be to work with a nutritional therapist or naturopath - they will Parasites and other unfriendly gut bugs (certain yeasts and bacteria) feed off sugar as an energy source, as well as starch and unhealthy fats. have access to more comprehensive gut testing, and can also help you address the parasitic infection, if there is one. WORDS: CASSANDRA BARNS PHOTOGRAPHY: STOCKSY, SHUTTERSTOCK WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT THEM? If a parasite is discovered by your doctor, you may be given an antibiotic or anti-parasitic medication. This can be the quickest and most efficient way to clear an infection. If you do need medication, take a high-quality probiotic supplement during and especially after the treatment, to help restore your healthy gut flora. Another way to address parasites is with herbal extracts, which can have surprisingly potent effects. Wormwood, black walnut hulls and cloves are traditional anti-parasitic supplements, and are often used in combination. If you suspect you have a parasite, you could first of all try a home 'parasite cleanse'. Look for a supplement or herbal blend containing the herbs above, such as Renew Life's 'Paragone' - a 35-day programme that's done in two stages. While you're doing the cleanse it's best to eliminate processed and sugary foods and focus on fresh, whole foods, including whole grains, unprocessed meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, beans and pulses, and lower-sugar fruits, like berries. Eating natural antiNutrition pro: Find a trusted microbial foods, nutritional therapist via including garlic, could the British Association also help, and eating for Applied Nutrition fermented foods, such and Nutritional Therapy at as sauerkraut, can aid in rebalancing the beneficial flora in your gut. CURB CRAVING S If sugar cravings are your main symptom, then sort out your diet first, switching to whole foods and cutting as much sugar out as possible, before worrying about a parasite. SUGAR RUSH? Eating too many processed foods, refined carbohydrates or sugary foods and drinks can actually cause sugar cravings, by triggering blood sugar swings. September 2016 BALANCE ❸ FATIG UE AND/ OR A NA EMIA SIGNS YOU COULD HAVE AN UNWELCOME GUE ST Parasites can cause many symptoms; here's what to look out for... ❶ D IA RRHOEA Many people pick up a bug on holiday and get over it without any problems. But if diarrhoea lasts longer than a few days, or comes and goes - especially after a foreign holiday - it's an indication that your little visitor is sticking around! ❷ BLOATING, GAS, A BD OMINA L PA IN, IND IG E STION OR LOSS OF A PPETITE Symptoms such as these are often blamed on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other digestive conditions. This can make it very difficult to get a diagnosis, or even to get your doctor to consider a possible parasite infection. If you develop these symptoms suddenly - again, especially after a holiday - then a parasite could be the cause. Parasites may cause deficiencies in iron and B-vitamins, which are needed to build the blood and give us energy. If you're experiencing unexplained fatigue, or have been diagnosed as anaemic or irondeficient without any obvious cause (such as a vegetarian or vegan diet, heavy periods in women or pregnancy) then a parasite could be at play. Chronic 'brain fog' or poor memory could be another symptom that's not directly digestion-related. It may be the result of the parasite reducing your absorption of nutrients needed by the brain. ❹ INSATIAB L E APPETITE OR CRAVINGS Although loss of appetite can be a symptom of some infections, excessive hunger or never feeling full after a meal can also be a sign - as can food cravings, especially sugar. ❺ A NXIETY, INSOMNIA O R TEETH G RIND ING As with brain fog, these symptoms could be caused by toxins produced by parasites. If you experience insomnia that doesn't have any other cause (stress, noises, exposure to bright light in the evening) then a gut infection could be to blame. Grinding or clenching your teeth in your sleep can also be related to such toxins. B 43

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