Your quest to eat healthy just got a little tougher! Neurologists and health experts in India warn that raw veggies in salads are one of the biggest causes of tapeworm infection, especially in the cities.
The very word ‘tapeworm’ sounds disgusting and scary, as it should, since tapeworms can live in your intestines for years and can even be fatal!
The Biggest Threat Of Unwashed Cabbage And Spinach
“Tapeworms can grow to more than 82 feet and live for as long as 30 years inside your body!”
Tapeworm larvae (eggs) are very small, which is why they go unnoticed, but once the eggs hatch, they can grow into very large tapeworms. Tapeworms are known to grow to more than 82 feet and can live for as long as 30 years inside your body!
When they remain in the digestive tract, tapeworms can go undetected as they do not cause any noticeable symptoms; at the most a person might experience occasional abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and mild anemia.
However, the biggest health risk is when tapeworm eggs travel to the brain and cause a condition called Neurocysticercosis, which is commonly referred to as “worm in the brain”.
Doctors report a five-fold increase in “worm in the brain” in the last 15 years. Neurocysticercosis is the most common parasitic disease of the human nervous system and it is the leading cause of seizures and epilepsy. Blinding headaches are the most common symptom of tapeworm cysts in the brain, as the cyst presses against the brain. When the condition is detected in time, treatment with anti-parasitic drugs will provide quick results, but if the abscess is large, surgical intervention may be necessary.
Notable Cases Of Tapeworm Infection
“17-year old tennis badminton champ, Nihar Thacker, recently passed away, just 3 days after being diagnosed with a tapeworm cyst in his brain”
About 10 years ago, tennis star Leander Paes was admitted to hospital with a suspected brain tumor, which turned out to be a brain abscess caused by tapeworm larvae. Luckily for Paes, the condition was detected in time and he was able to make a full recovery. 12-year old Nita Juggi, from Gujarat, was also diagnosed with a tapeworm cyst in her brain, due to which she had developed partial paralysis and had been suffering seizures for 2 years. Thankfully, doctors were able to detect and remove it just in time. A more unfortunate case was that of 17-year old tennis badminton champ, Nihar Thacker, who recently passed away just 3 days after being diagnosed with a tapeworm cyst in his brain.
How To Safeguard Yourself From Tapeworms In Veggies
“Soaking your veggies in a solution of water with potassium permanganate and vinegar is simple enough and is one of the most effective ways to prevent tapeworm infections”
Add a few crystals of potassium permanganate to a bowl of water and soak your veggies in this solution for 2-5 minutes and then wash them thoroughly under running water. Potassium permanganate kills bacteria and parasites and even removes pesticide residue, which is why this is an effective way to prevent tapeworm infections. Alternately, you can soak your leafy veggies in a mixture of vinegar and water as this acidic solution will help to get rid of tapeworm larvae.
Keep in mind that a lot of our leafy vegetables are grown using contaminated water or even sewage – in fact, these “vegetable patches” are a common sight when travelling by train in the metros like Mumbai. Even if the vegetables are grown in a hygienic manner, vegetable vendors often rinse them in water that may be contaminated, exposing you to the risk of tape worm infection. This is why it is important to wash cabbage, spinach and other greens thoroughly before you use them in your salads.
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