Tapeworms for Weight Loss

Did you know in the 1950s some people would ingest tapeworms for weight loss? What is a tapeworm anyways?

A tapeworm is a parasite that lives in your small intestine and absorbs many of the foods nutrients you digest. The idea was you could eat whatever you wanted, and the tapeworm would absorb most of it, so you could enjoy foods without the weight.  It sounds great on the surface, but don’t get any ideas! These parasites can be scary!

Tapeworms can reproduce asexually (by themselves) or with another tapeworm. They actually are a chain of reproductive units called proglotids. Each little link has  what it takes to reproduce and make another link. The oldest units fall off the tail end of the tapeworm, while the new immature units form by the head. The more nutrients it receives from its host, the faster it will grow. A person can have multiple tapeworms from this process. It boils down to a matter of supply and demand with food. That is where the joke comes from where people who constantly eat being accused of having a tapeworm, because tapeworms take up so much of peoples nutrients, they feel hungry more often. Anyone else starting to see a problem with this? If that doesn’t freak you out,  tapeworms can cause a number of gastrointestinal problems, and many patients have complained of digestional discomfort from actually feeling the tapeworms move around inside them! GROSS!

Photo Courtesy of http://antiparasitictips.com/









The good news here is tapeworms aren’t much of an issue in places where meat is inspected by the USDA. So the United States is in the clear currently. However in other areas, tapeworms are usually ingested in their larval stage by animals such as cows and pigs. When humans consume these animals and do not cook them thouroughally, this is where the risk of tapeworms becomes a problem.

Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Fish and Game







More good news is  these parasites can be seen by the naked eye in your meat, if you look for them. So as long as you aren’t going around in foreign countries eating well under cooked meat, you will likely be fine, and have to find some other way to lose weight like the rest of us.

Enjoy your next steak and cook it well,


The Krebs Cycle and Role of Amino Acids


Aerobic Respiration

Aerobic respiration is used by many organisms in the animal kingdom, including humans like you and me. It is a metabolic reaction that requires oxygen to produce ATP or energy. The equation for aerobic respiration is C6H12O6 + 6 O2 = 6 CO2 + 12 H2O + 38 ATP (engergy).

In simple terms it means organisms take in food and water, and put out CO2, water, and energy.
In this process, there are four steps, including glycolysis, formation of acetyl CoA, the Krebs cycle, and theelectron transport chain. We will primarily discuss glycolysis, the Krebs cycle, amino acids needed, and the electron transport chain.


Glycolysis & Formation of Acetyl CoA

Before the Krebs cycle begins, glucose needs to be broken down into the proper components before they can enter the cycle. First it is broken down into 2 3-carbon molecules of pyruvate in the cytoplasm of the cell.

This is known as glycolysis, which consumes 2 ATP, and produces 4 molecules of ATP, and  two molecules of NADH. Some organisms can survive on glycolysis alone for their energy,  while others continue the process to get more ATP. After the glucose is turned to pyruvate, it gets oxidized to carbon dioxide, and a 2-carbon acetyl group. It is then bound to coenzyme A, and shuttled into the mitochondria in the cell, while carbon dioxide is released as a waste product.


The Krebs Cycle

The next stage in energy production is the Krebs cycle, also known as the citric acid or Calvin cycle. Each of the acetyl groups produced from the original glucose molecule gets bonded to a molecule of oxaloacetate to form citrate or citric acid.

This is where the name of the cycle comes from. These are the Krebs cycle’s amino
acids needed to start the cycle. These two citric acid molecules get slowly oxidized  and hydrogen ions become bound to NAD form NADH and FAD from FADH2.

When the last carbon atom is released in the form of CO2, oxaloacetate is produced. This process forms 2 ATP molecules for every glucose that enters the cell.

Krebs cycle



The Electron Transport Chain

After the Krebs cycle, the electrons removed from this process follow many cytochromes on
the mitochondrial membrane in eukaryotic cells, and the plasma membrane of bacteria.

Here, hydrogen ions get pumped across the inner membrane of the mitochondria and flow through ATP synthase enzyme molecules. As the electrons pass through the electron transport chain, they fall to lower and lower energy states.

This energy that is released is used to drive H+ ions across the membrane, which in turn generates a transmembrane gradient of H+ ions. These hydrogen ions serve as a battery like source of energy to drive the phosphorylation of ADP to make 34 ATP per molecule of glucose.

Now you should be pretty familiar with glycolysis, the Krebs cycle, amino acids needed, and the electron transport chain, making the understanding of aerobic respiration, a breeze!






Porphyria The Vampire Disease

481Porphyria_cutaneous_ta I thought it might be appropriate to write about this disease since Halloween is coming up. Porphyria is thought to be the where vampire myths have come from, as people suffering from this disease usually have a sensitivity to sunlight, and abnormal hair growth. The main cause for this disease is the inability to produce heme (a part of our red blood cells) The slang term for this illness is the Vampire Disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, this disease can usually be divided into two different categories although there are many different types. The two categories are Acute and Cutaneous Porphyria.

Acute porphyria includes the forms of this disease that primarily cause problems with the nervous system.(neuron porphyrias).Sometimes skin symptoms (neurocutaneous porphyrias), will also be a problem.
Cutaneous porphyria This includes the forms of this disease that cause problems in the skin due to oversensitivity to sunlight. This type does not affect the nervous system. 

The signs and symptoms a person with Porphyria may have will depend on the type they have.

Acute porphyria symptoms include

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Constipation or Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in limbs or back
  • Muscle pain, tingling, numbness, weakness or even paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Fever
  • Confusion/Disorientation
  • Hallucinations/Paranoia
  • Red colored urine
  • High blood pressure

Cutaneous porphyrias and neurocutaneous acute porphyrias

  • Itching
  • Painful skin redness 
  • Skin swelling
  • Blisters
  • Red urine
  • Abnormal Hair Growth
  • sensitivity to sunlight 


One can see how Cutaneous Porphyria might lead to myths of vampires and werewolves, due to the symptoms they often experience. This disease has a wide range of symptoms and some people may be unaware they have the disease, as anywhere from 1 in 500 to 1 in 50,000 people may suffer from it. So beware, the vampire in the movies might actually be right behind you!

~Happy Halloween, HealthyGirl