There is speculation that parasites may be useful in combat against food allergies. That’s comforting. In the back alleys of filthy cities around the world, those rummaging through dumpsters and trash heaps are leaping for joy. They’ve been fighting parasites for years. Liver worms and maggots are a common irritant. The occasional fatal beating by a rampant band of teenage rumblers is a bit of a nuisance. But food allergies will not be their issue.

In becoming a more sanitary population, we have triggered the side effect of food allergies. It is now common for people, particularly children, to have allergic reactions to many of the foods we take for granted. Eight foods identified with 90% of allergic reactions are: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. I am a big advocate of wheat and all the other vittles that could prove fatal to some. I love them all. There is no religion or cult that can keep me away. Allergic reactions could do the trick.

When I was a kid, PB&J was an awesome sandwich. It still is. It’s the only entree where the recipe absolutely has to include white bread, grape jelly and crunchy peanut butter. Served with a glass of whole milk. Not the sissy, lactose-free, non-fat swill I usually drink. If I’m out to commit suicide, gimme a good freaking dairy product. Throw in some real ice cream. “Give me gravy on my mashed potatoes.” It’s not so funny that peanuts and milk can kill. There are about 26 million sufferers of food allergies in America. That seems a lot.

Studies indicate parasites might actually be good. Some patients with irritable bowel syndrome can improve when exposed to porcine whipworm, which is a pig parasite. In tests comparing lab rats with wild rodents, immune cells from the critters were tested in petri dishes exposing them to plant protein. The cells of the lab rats, who do not live in infectious and parasitic conditions like the wild guys, had a much higher reaction to the protein. Kids who grow up on farms and are constantly exposed to dirt and animals, are allergic to fewer things than those raised in a more sterile environment. The conclusion is parasites are beneficial. They help us build our immune system.

There is no worse feeling than removing a tick from your pet, child or yourself. We always have that unsettling fear there may be something lurking beneath the skin where the tick was attached. Time normally proves there are no ill effects, but the cringe while you’re squishing or burning the creature takes a little getting used to. Ticks are officially classified as ectoparasites (external parasites), but I don’t believe anyone would suggest they are beneficial.

I applaud our desire to be a sanitary nation. I applaud washing our hands after a trip to the latrine (so many don’t). It’s unfortunate the proliferation of food allergies is a result of our need to be clean. Maybe our children should eat a little dirt when we aren’t looking. Or the next time we yell at them for picking their noses, we can think twice about how hideous it may appear. They could be just immunizing themselves when using their sleeve as a handkerchief.

I need to go and take care of this rash. Thanks for the audience.

With Love,

Bake My Fish

One thought on “Parasitic Friends

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