Mums, beware! Lychee can harm your children

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Not all fruits are created equal, some if them can even be fatal when ingested, which can cause poisoning or even death

Doctors have been reminding us time and again that eating fruits and vegetables is one of the healthiest things we can do for our body. Decades of research has been telling us of this.

But latest research claim that a certain type of the lychee fruit can be poisonous when ingested by malnourished children.

In India the Asian lychee tree (Litchi chinensis) is discovered to be responsible for outbreaks of a fatal brain sickness in the Bihar state where the fruit is commercially grown.

A team of virologist led by T. Jacob John at the Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, in Tamil Nadu, found traces of Methylene cyclopropyl-glycine (MCPG) or hypoglycin G in both semi-ripe and ripe lychee fruit by a team.

Possibly lethal

When ingested by underfed children, MCPG causes hypoglycaemic encephalopathy, a metabolic illness that affects the brain when body sugar levels are low.

This happens when a person is fasting and the glycerin stored in the body is released for energy production.

Body fat is then mobilized, and the process requires breakdown of fatty acids aided by carnitine and coenzyme. “When this metabolism is impaired, hypoglycaemia develops,” said Maya Thomas, a paediatric neurologist at CMC Vellore.

The best way to avoid this is let the children eat the fruit only after a meal. Mummies, are you sure you’re developing good nutritional habits in your home?

Healthy eating at home

Experts recommend the following tips to promote healthy childhood eating:

  • Focus on overall diet rather than specific foods. To promote a lifelong healthy relationship with food, kids should be eating whole, minimally processed, nutritious food—food that is as close to its natural form as possible.
  • Have regular family meals. Knowing dinner is served at approximately the same time every night and that the entire family will be sitting down together is comforting and enhances appetite. Breakfast is another great time for a family meal.
  • Cook more meals at home. Eating home cooked meals is healthier for the whole family. It sets a great example for kids about the importance of food and can bring a family together—even moody teenagers love to eat tasty, home-cooked meals!
  • Get kids involved. Children enjoy helping adults to shop for groceries, selecting what goes in their lunch box, and preparing dinner.
  • Make a variety of healthy snacks available instead of empty calorie snacks. Keep plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grain snacks, and healthy beverages (water, milk, pure fruit juice) around.
  • Limit portion sizes. Don’t insist your child cleans the plate, and never use food as a reward or bribe.

If you have any insights, questions or comments regarding the topic, please share them in our Comment box below. 

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