Sushi is raw fish molded into an art form. It is a wildly popular form of food and in some cities, sushi restaurants seem to be on every street corner.
It’s super healthy, filled with ocean fish and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s fresh, so it is better than processed food….
Wellllll, not exactly…. Hate to burst your bubble, but if you love sushi, you need to read on. You won’t believe what those lovely creations are hiding.
We’ll start with some not so gross side effects of eating sushi. But by the time we get to number 3, you’d better put down your chop sticks and by number 8, you won’t want to be eating at all.
Not So Healthy
Sushi is very high in sugar. Rice is mixed with sugar and rice vinegar. You get a tablespoon of sugar in every cup of rice. The rice itself is spikes blood sugar levels, so you get a double whammy of sugar. Add in the sugar in the sauces and you are not eating a particularly healthy meal.
Wasabi gives sushi a kick. But it is not real. Most restaurants serve colored horseradish. One dye, food coloring yellow #5 is a known carcinogen.
Forgetting where you left your car keys and irritable about it? Feeling weak and numb? Your sushi last night might be poisoning you.
Ocean fish like tuna, yellowtail, bluefin, sea bass and lobster are full of mercury. Mercury is a side product of industrial pollution. Fish take in mercury and then you get mercury when you eat fish. The more you eat, the more mercury you get. Cooking doesn’t help, either.
Mercury poisoning is unpleasant and can have long term effects on fetuses and children.
If you are pregnant, avoid sushi. The mercury is bad for your fetus and listeria is even worse. Listeria is a bacterial infection from eating contaminated food, including raw fish.
Pregnant women, newborns, and people with compromised immune systems are at risk. Symptoms include headaches, stiff neck, confusion, and convulsions. Pregnant women may miscarry, have a stillbirth, or the newborn may be very sick.
You can develop listeria the day you eat bad fish, or it can develop up to seventy days later.
Salmonella is a bacterial infection that you usually get from eating improperly handled food. Generally, somewhere along the food processing line, someone didn’t wash their hands after using the toilet.
Salmonella has been found in tuna. Freezing the fish won’t stop you from getting salmonella. Cooking can keep you from getting salmonella as long as the contamination didn’t occur after your food was cooked. If you’ve had stomach flu, you’ve probably had salmonella.
Scombroid Food Poisoning
Unless you live on the coast and get your sushi fish straight out of the ocean, you run the risk of getting scombroid food poisoning. Never heard of it? Roughly 38% of seafood related food poisoning outbreaks are scombroid food poisonings.
If the fish is not kept cold enough during transport, it begins to rot. As the muscle begins to break down, it releases a histamine. You get an allergic type reaction including flushing, rash, headache, dizziness, and sweating. A severe enough reaction can cause anaphylaxis.
We’ve been using oceans as garbage dumps for millennia. As a result, fish are full of PCBs and pesticides. Eating contaminated fish is almost as bad as eating toxins in the original form.
Another man-made toxin (fertilizer) results in ciguatera. Ciguatoxins occur normally, but fertilizers in ocean water cause ciguatoxin creating algae to “bloom.”
Fish, especially reef fish, concentrate it through feeding. Ciguatera causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, neurological symptoms, and hallucinations or anxiety. Symptoms may last a few years or for years!
Got the feeling you aren’t alone in your body? You may have a tapeworm along for the ride. Animals (including you) often have a variety of internal parasites. Fish are home to several that can make the transition from fish to human.
Tapeworms enter you through either eggs or larvae that inhabit the fish’s muscles. Since you aren’t cooking it, you aren’t killing the larvae. Once it set ups shop in your guts, the tapeworm shares everything you eat.
Herring Worm Disease
Have abdominal pain? It might be a herring worm infestation. When an infected sea mammal poops, the cleanup crew (shrimp, crabs, etc.) eat the poop. Then your future sushi eats that animal. You then get the herring worms when you eat uncooked fish.
Got a tingly feeling in your mouth right after you eat sushi? Might be a herring worm. Vomiting? Your body is trying to get rid of it. Stomach pain? Your new roommate has set up home in your guts.
Sushi sitting a bit heavy on your stomach? It might be good to eat, trendy, and beautiful to look at, but each bite of sushi potentially life changing. From parasites to toxins to someone’s poopy hands, you stand a really good chance of getting very sick from eating sushi. There aren’t statistics that break down infections by food type, but one in six Americans gets food poisoning every year.
Children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems should avoid sushi. The illnesses are unpleasant, but for those groups, the side effects can be fatal or cause long term harm.