Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Resistance to "foreign" water

A friend of mine is in Haiti. He asked if it's possible to build up a resistence to bacteria and parasites in unclean water and food. I all this the "foreign water fallacy." People often think that your body is used to the water in your area, but not in other areas. The truth is that your body prefers clean water. I've read much on this subject, since we deal with it every day. The basic answer is that humans do not build up resistance to e.coli or parasites. I'm guessing that the fallacy has been enabled by anecdotal evidence of friends getting sick on trips (which is definitely correlative) and the idea that we build up resistance to viruses. The truth is that people in 3rd world countries do not build up a resistance to unclean drinking water; rather, they have parasites. Here in Peru, many Peruvians also believe this fallacy and assume that Americans just have weak digestive systems. The truth is, they shouldn't be eating or drinking unclean things either--but they're unwilling to change their hygiene habits. For example, they may know that they have to get their drinking water from a clean source. Unfortunately, they don't use a clean bucket to store it in. Another common practice is boiling the water they use to make fruit drinks, then leaving it on the counter all day. The water was safe when they made the drink, but millions of bacteria grow during the hot afternoon. (This is also 100% true for southern sweet tea sitting on a kitchen counter in Georgia.) The good news for us is that God has designed us to survive, in spite of the aliens trying to live off of us. That being said, God also gave us doctors. So, I'm continuing to take my parasite and salmonella medicine.

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