by MarshaneilSoumi D’ Rozario | 08 July, 2019
Encephalitis is a disease that causes inflammation of the brain. Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) tends to affect the central nervous system, mostly in children and young adults. It is a viral disease, which causes mild flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions, and headache. AES is complex and can be caused owing to a virus, bacteria, fungi, and a range of agents. Moreover, one may also suffer from it due to the scrub typhus, dengue, mumps, and measles, even Nipah or Zika virus. In several cases, the cause of AES remains clinically unidentified. According to a recent study, published in the Annual Journal of Neurosciences in 2016, apart from viral encephalitis, a severe form of leptospirosis and toxoplasmosis can cause AES. The causative agent of AES varies with season and geographical location, and predominantly affects the population below 15 years.
The recent outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar has claimed so many lives of children. It has triggered a wave of fear amongst many patients. Hence, parents are apprehensive to let their children have Litchi. This is because it has been said that Encephalitis is spreading through litchis growing in areas of Bihar, including Muzaffarpur District and other parts of the Country. The consumption of the fruit is among the factors for the spread of the disease. Dr. Pradeep Gadge (leading Diabetologist, Gadge Diabetes Centre) busted the myth regarding consumption of litchi causing encephalitis.
According to Dr. Pradeep Gadge, “It is essential to note that the cause of encephalitis is sleeping on an empty stomach at night, dehydration due to humidity and eating litchi on an empty stomach. Not many are aware that there is a normal tendency for blood sugar to dip in early morning, after several hours of no food intake. Undernourished children may have gone to sleep without a meal at night and developed Hypoglycemia, a condition that occurs when a person's blood glucose level (BGL) has dropped too low (below 4mmol/L). The brain needs normal levels of glucose in the blood. The liver is unable to supply the need. So, the alternate pathway of glucose synthesis, which is known as fatty acid oxidation, is turned on. That pathway is blocked by Methyl CarboxyPhenylGlycine (MCPG). Thus, litchi does not cause any harm in well-nourished children, but only in undernourished children who have eaten litchi fruit the previous day and had gone to bed on empty stomach”.
Generally, when glycogen reserve in one’s liver is exhausted or is insufficient, the body tends to convert the fatty acid (non-carbohydrate energy source) into glucose. But in the presence of the litchi toxin, the fatty acid conversion into glucose is blocked midway, owing to which no glucose is generated and the low blood glucose level is not corrected by one’s body.
Benefits of consuming Litchi:
• It is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), potassium and copper.
• It is loaded with antioxidant, anti-cancerous properties, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-viral properties.
• Furthermore, it is anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, liver-protective and immune-boosting in nature.
• It is rich in polyphenols (plant-based antioxidants), including proanthocyanidins, which may help prevent serious heart problems and cancer.
The key lesson we can take is to avoid eating unripened litchi on an empty stomach. If you are well-nourished and eating ripe litchis in moderation, there is no need to worry.
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