Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Urban Legend? The Tapeworm Diet
Due to some unusual stories propagated on television, there has been some inquiry into the tapeworm diet . Does it really exist, and importantly does it work? I'm going to explore the facts and falsehoods around a diet that will make your guts hurt.
In a few decade period in the 20th century, one could find diet products advertised as containing tapeworm eggs, dead tapeworms, or preserved tapeworms. While it is true that most of these products were indeed snake oil, some ambitious people did indeed contain the creepy critters in their products until the FDA put an end to it. There were stories of famous ladies adopting the diet from hell, and although the majority were false, housewives and young debs did indeed consume tapeworms to lose amounts of weight followed by toxic worm-killing potions once they dropped the pounds. Maria Callas was often quoted to be a proponent of the diet, but she was not. She was indeed afflicted with parasitic worms throughout her career, but it was due to her love of eating raw liver, which is frequently invaded by the crawlies.
The truth is that tapeworm cysts do not live very long outside of a host and those pills from back in the day were not likely to infect someone with the parasite, but people did then and still do intentionally ingest cattle tapeworm cysts either directly or via eating raw organ flesh from an afflicted cow. There are indeed websites with "specialists" who will use "tapeworm therapy" as a dietary supplement, and they sell packages offerring trips to places where such treatment is legal or simply unregulated. They then prescribe you drugs to gradually kill off the worm after about 12 weeks. Not only do they treat you in Mexico for overweight, but the claims are that people with automimmune conditions can benefit from all kinds of different worms.
How does it work? Well, not all infestations cause the nastier symptoms nor do all afflicted lose weight, but here's the backgrounder. Tapeworms are parasitic flatworms that infect the host after they ingest cysts harvested from the original host, generally a freshly killed cow. These hardy worms can grow to a length of over 30 metres and quickly, but in order to grow, they need to feed. In order to do this, they secrete a protein that regulates your digestive process so it can steal the nutrients it wishes. It speeds up the process in order to increase your appetite when you are consuming something it doesn't want, causing a slight laxative effect. You become less efficient at digesting food and you lose weight. An added boon to loss is when the worm begins to produce eggs - calories are energy, and they are burned through work. We burn calories through exercise and worms do as well. The worm is a living entity inside of you and will compete for calories, using up to 30% of the calories you ingest to go about its daily life. This element of the Worm Loss Plan works on simple calorie restriction, meaning that the worm steals calories that otherwise would be working their way to your waistline.
Why doesn't everyone want a worm? Well, it's because it is a non-native parasite and people get creeped out by worms, and in this instance they should. The short-term effects can include vomiting and diarrhea. The sudden calorie restriction alone can cause fatigue. Madame wormie likes B12 and you can become dangerously anemic and suffer all sorts of related consequences, including blindness. They can cause a condition whereby you retain water and your abdomen swells, as well as various other symptoms of malnutrition that any Ethiopian will tell you are no picnic. Tapeworms can cause intestinal obstruction when they rapidly multiply and can even invade your organs after long periods of time, including your brain. Consumption of pig tapeworms, which can also hardily live in cattle, is far more likely to cause cystic brain infections, and may be the reason why Muslims and Jews are prohibited from consuming pork. Pork-origin Cestoda can cause infections resulting in blindness, stroke, and death. 60% of people with calcified oinkworm cysts develop them in their brains. On sight, there is no way to distinguish between the slightly dangerous cow tapeworm and the definitely nasty porkworm cysts. Besides, the eventual exit of flatworms and the fragments they shed should be at least a visual deterrent to wanting such invaders lurking the body.
While there is truth to the tapeworm diet legend, it is certainly not a common one, but is increasing due to the want for quick weight reduction. The pounds will resurface once the infestation is cured and there can be lifelong consequences for the person who attempts this method of caloric restriction. Never be shocked by the methods in which someone will attempt to alter their physique, but aware. Amphetamines, laxatives, and even worms are being consumed by women made insecure by a society that romanticizes an unhealthy ideal. If you want to lose weight, put away the burgers and opt for a salad instead. And don't be a dumbell - pick up one.
Posted by Michel-Exildas Galipeau at 13:03