I don’t mean to be a raw meat pusher but I’ve had a whole lot of questions since the last raw meat article – how I stopped being afraid of it, how to start eating it, whether it is really safe, etc. – so I thought I’d offer a little more insight as to why some of us can get away with eating tons of raw meat and never seem to get sick.
Parasitic infestation is not just a numbers game as many like to suggest. Contact with parasites, bacteria, and viruses is common and should not be feared by healthy people.
Where Parasites Are Found
It’s not that in all these years I haven’t encountered a parasite. Who knows how many times I have, really. I’ve eaten pounds upon pounds upon pounds of raw meat and seafood over the years and the chances that I’ve run into some living creature are actually pretty high. Parasites are everywhere. We bump heads with them all the time.
Parasites can infect us through:
- the bites of blood sucking insects
- water from streams and even from surface water treatment plants
- walking barefoot on infected dirt
- eating improperly washed vegetables which had traveled from farms using fecal contaminated fertilizer
- shaking someones hand who has bad bathroom hand washing habits
- eating food from a restaurant where employees had bad hand washing habits
With all the places we come into contact with parasites, it’s a wonder that people blame raw food for all instances of parasitic infection. Raw meat simply isn’t the only contact we have with them.
Some parasites such as the tapeworm Taenia solium infect us through human feces. The worms we eat in undercooked pork are much less of a problem than the eggs we might ingest from contaminated food. Feces contaminated vegetables or restaurant meals can invite the brain eating worm into our bloodstream.
As weird as it might sound this can easily happen – someone is in too much of a hurry to wash his hands after wiping, some microscopic eggs get on his hands, he shakes your hand at lunch, and you lick the butter off your fingers, or maybe he’s a cook who heads back to the kitchen and prepares somebodies sandwich.
This kind of thing isn’t too common in our culture, but it does happen and when it does those eggs get into the blood stream, hatch, and head off to the brain to gorge on yummy brain tissue.
Realizing that parasites, viruses, and bacteria are out there no matter what you eat or what you do is the first step to getting comfortable with eating raw meat.
Parasites Are Only Doing Their Job
Every animal on the planet including grass eating, free roaming cows can get parasites. Even healthy, primitive humans get parasites. It’s a good thing too because parasites help clean up filth. They are like tiny little, ugly garbage men. We need them as much as they need us. The problem isn’t that we come into contact with parasites (and bacteria and viruses) but that we are just so filthy they have a whole lot to feed on when they get here.
And the more we steer clear of parasites and feed our fear of bugs the more of a “problem” they will be.
Parasites and bacteria are an important part of our ecosystem. Nature doesn’t intend for us to run from them (it’s not possible anyway). In fact, the more we try to avoid them, the more trash they’ll have to take out in the end, and that will mean some major symptoms of disease (which most people in this country experience pretty regularly).
With a clean terrain those parasites won’t cause you much pain. If they don’t find a toxic blood supply and dead tissues to feast on, they will simply be flushed out of the body to go find another host.
That is an amazing and kind of scary thought at first. It took me a year or more to really trust the idea but as my body got healthier it started to make sense. If my digestive system is not full of impacted feces, if my cells are healthy, parasites have very little to feed on and what they do feed on will only make me cleaner in the end.
The Symptoms of Parasitic Infestation Are Just Toxins Flushing Out
Aajonus Vonderplanitz, the leader of the raw Primal diet, claims it is this truth about parasites which saved him from cancer. Nasty bugs eat nasty stuff. If we allow them to do their job and clean up the garbage, our health will improve. The problem with parasites is that if we are really unhealthy, we are essentially a playground for them and we will experience, what he calls, detoxification. The dirtier our body, the more severe our symptoms.
Flushing parasites out of the body with herbs and fasting should not be our strategy either. In the beginning this could be helpful, but the overall strategy is flawed. Our goal should not be to avoid them but rather to clean up our bodies so that they will not be able to make a long term home in us. If they do find us a hospitable host, we may experience symptoms of parasitic infestation. These can include:
- Bloody stools
- Foul smelling stools
- Gas and cramping
- Itching around the anus
- Flu-like symptoms
- Weight loss
- Ravenous appetite
These symptoms, however, are not symptoms of the parasite itself but of the detoxification that the parasite is causing. Absolutely, eliminating the parasite would stop the detox and would make you feel a little better, but it wouldn’t remove the risk of further infestation, i.e. it wouldn’t mean that you are now clean and healthy. Quite the contrary. Such severe symptoms are only evidence of the toxic material your body contains.
“Parasites are not the problem. Parasites live on decaying tissue. Blaming parasites is the same as blaming vultures, crows and worms for the dead and decaying carcass that they find and eat. They eat the dead and decaying creature to prevent the atmosphere from becoming a toxic cesspool.” – From an interview with Aajonus
Cooked Meat Might Just Set Us Up For Disease
Aajonus maintains that we should not eat cooked meat at all because it creates toxicity in the body and sets us up for disease.
It’s an interesting position. He may be right I don’t really know. Our bodies may be best suited for raw food. Every other animal on the planet thrives on it.
And just because we can eat cooked food doesn’t mean we should. And just because cooked food might be responsible for the increasing size of our big smart brains, doesn’t mean big smart are a good thing. Hell, look where we are today. What got us here? The right path? No! We’ve been doing something wrong for milenia. Maybe we started going downhill when we harnessed fire. Maybe not. I don’t know for sure. It’s all interesting theories. Undoubtedly, raw foods heal and raw foods are good for you. Traditional people all over the world eat them, some of them even exclusively. Many people recovering from disease eat them, including myself, and witness a dramatic shift in health. A person should, as usual, try out many things and do what feels right. Personally, I tend to flip back and forth between raw and cooked Paleo diets. I don’t know why really. I’m just following my nose.
Raw Primal Diet Resources
There are quite a few resources these days on the net about raw Paleo dieting. Many of these people have been doing this for even longer than I have. The Raw Paleo Guy, for example, has been eating raw meat for twice as long as I have and he’s been more serious about it than I have been. He offers a wealth of knowledge on his website.
From the RawPaleoGuy “The guru, Aajonus Vonderplanitz’s take on this is that so-called “parasites” are really symbionts which help to clean up dead, toxic matter within the body, and that since cooked-food-eaters have more toxic material in the body, they are more likely to suffer from side-effects.
That said, I have come across just two references to parasites among RPDers (raw Paleo Dieters). These two incidents occurred after the two had been to the tropics, where food can be more easily contaminated. In both cases, the bouts were minor and very temporary, compared to what cooked-food-eaters usually experience.
Last I checked, even the stools of people who eat a lot of cooked-food are full of various unicellular or multicellular parasites, as they exist everywhere in our environment. What rawpalaeodieters find out in the end is that all the things such as bacteria/parasites etc. that they were taught to be afraid of, do in fact contribute to human health. Ultimately the only way one can discover for oneself that that is fact, is to eat raw-meat for long enough, so as to see the results.
If you want further confirmation, you can always ask the raw, paleolithic diet groups on Yahoo and elsewhere. I will admit that, initially, I too was scared of parasites and went in for all sorts of deworming herbal remedies such as wormwood, but I quickly realised there was no danger, so I stopped using such supplements, and have never had cause to regret my decision.”
Disclaimer: Parasites are like vultures. They feed on decaying material. Before eating raw meat inform yourself as best you can about the dangers and the best way to make your body the least hospitable host.