Effects of Carbohydrates on Blastocystis

Blastocystis hominis is a parasite that can infect your intestines. The effect of this parasite on human health is still debated, according to the Mayo Clinic, because it appears to cause symptoms in some, but not all, people. Different strains of Blastocystis hominis may explain the difference in the symptoms experienced. This parasite can be treated with some antibiotics, although no proven treatment exists. Adopting a diet that is lower in carbohydrates can also help some people better manage their symptoms and control this parasite.

Blastocystis hominis feeds off the carbohydrates in your diet. (Image: desnik/iStock/Getty Images)

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The symptoms associated with a Blastocystis hominis infection mainly include gastrointestinal troubles, especially diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, bloating, flatulence as well as fatigue and weight loss in some people. It is important that you consult your doctor if you experience these gastrointestinal symptoms because they can be caused by a variety of infections or gastrointestinal conditions, so professional investigation would be needed to determine the actual cause of your symptoms. A stool test can help identify whether a parasite, such as Blastocystis hominis, is present in your gastrointestinal tract.

Microbes and Carbohydrates

Like all parasites, bacteria and yeast living in your digestive system, Blastocystis hominis mainly feeds off the sugar derived from the digestion of the carbohydrates in your diet. Sugar molecules can be obtained from either the sugar found in fruits, added sugar and dairy products, as well as from starches found in potatoes and grain products. The standard American diet tends to be high in carbohydrates, with an average of 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates, based on a typical 2,000-calorie diet.

Carbohydrates and Your Symptoms

If you are infected with Blastocystis hominis, you may experience a worsening of your symptoms after eating foods high in carbohydrates. Some people infected with a parasite feel worse after eating specific foods that trigger the growth and reproduction of these parasites. For example, eating a large amount of pasta, bread, breakfast cereals, potatoes or desserts can feed the Blastocystis hominis present in your digestive tract, making it stronger and leading to more bloating, abdominal pain, flatulence and diarrhea.

Adjust Your Diet

Adusting your diet by opting for foods with a lower carbohydrate content may help some people better manage the symptoms associated with a Blastocystis hominis infection by starving the parasite. Decrease your servings of breakfast cereals, breads, potatoes, desserts, sugary beverages and other grain-based products for a few days to see if your symptoms improve. Fill up on more protein- and fat-rich foods, which cannot be used by Blastocystis hominis, such as eggs, poultry, meat, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, unsweetened nuts and natural, sugar-free nut butter.

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