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!
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.
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,