Author Topic: Does deadly "lychee disease" call for a revision of the instinctive theory ?  (Read 516 times)

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Offline Bookworm

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PLease read article inserted  below which was published three days ago in the NYTIMES .


This discovery would seem to call  for a  revision of the instinctive theory.

According to the study below , malnourished children can sometimes be killed  by following their own instinctively driven behaviour

This discovery seems to fly in the face of a theory which until now,  foresaw that instinctive eating, when given full command, would entail a swift cure of malnourishment.

However  the term "unripe" in this  article should ring a bell in our minds : have these unripe fruits been selected  after due approval by the sense of smell ? Or have they been swallowed in a similar way as the toxic berries mentionned by  Rousseau in his famous  " Emile ou de l'éducation" ?

If not , the theory, far from being unvalidated, would remain all the more valid........


One tell-taling  detail : the  account of the story on the french web  which I read first (before searching for the original story in english )  makes no mention of the fact that the fruits were eaten unripe.... which of course,  makes the whole story sound totally crazy ..


NEW DELHI — Three years ago, Dr. Rajesh Yadav, an investigator with the India Epidemic Intelligence Service, moved to the city of Muzaffarpur, the site of one of the country’s most mysterious outbreaks. And he waited.

Every year in mid-May, as temperatures reached scorching heights, parents took children who had been healthy the night before to the hospital. The children awakened with a high-pitch cry in the early morning, many parents said.

Then the youths began having seizures and slipping into comas. In about 40 percent of cases, they died.

Every year in July, with the arrival of monsoon rains, the outbreak ended as suddenly as it began.

Beginning in 1995, investigations variously ascribed the phenomenon to heat stroke; to infections carried by rats, bats or sand flies; or to pesticides used in the region’s ubiquitous lychee orchards. But there were few signposts for investigators.


Instead of occurring in clusters, the illness typically struck only one child in a village, often leaving even siblings unaffected.

A joint investigation by India’s National Center for Disease Control and the India office of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, published in the British medical journal The Lancet Global Health on Tuesday, has identified a surprising culprit: the lychee fruit itself, when eaten on an empty stomach by malnourished children.

In 2015, as a result of the investigation, health officials began urging parents in the area to be sure to feed young children an evening meal and to limit their consumption of lychees (sometimes spelled litchi).

In two seasons, the number of reported cases per year dropped to less than 50 from hundreds.

“It was an unexplained illness for so many years,” said Padmini Srikantiah, a senior epidemiologist with the C.D.C. and the senior author of the paper. “This is kind of emblematic of why we collaborate, to build this kind of systematic approach.”

The Lancet article walks through a two-year medical detective story, as epidemiologists like Dr. Yadav closely examined the lives of hundreds of afflicted children, trying to understand everything they had eaten, drunk and breathed.

“It was a very intense situation, because we witnessed children dying in front of our eyes every day, as soon as they arrived at the hospital,” said Dr. Yadav, who now works with the C.D.C. in Atlanta. Especially difficult were the detailed interviews of parents, many of whom had carried a convulsing or comatose child for hours to get to the hospital.

“They were in a kind of panic,” he said. “Their children were dying, and it was an unknown thing.”


The first clue: There was no evidence the children had infections.

For 20 years, clinicians were unable to determine if the disease, which led to acute brain swelling known as encephalopathy, was caused by an infection — the immediate assumption in many outbreaks here.

Investigators pored over records from the previous year’s outbreak and were struck by the fact that many of the sick children did not have a fever. Analysis of spinal fluid samples overwhelmingly showed that the affected children did not have elevated counts of white blood cells, a sign the body is fighting infection.



The second clue: Most of the victims had very low blood sugar levels.

Having collected biological samples from more than 300 children, the researchers were able to scan a large number of markers — including some they hadn’t suspected.

Glucose had never been a particular concern for investigators. But some of the affected children had strikingly low levels, and those with low blood glucose were twice as likely to die, Dr. Srikantiah said.

“It seemed to be a little signal,” she continued. “One of the things we heard multiple times from the children’s mothers was that they didn’t really eat dinner properly.”

The third clue: Outbreaks had been associated with the ackee fruit.

It was in the fall of 2013, during a conference call with colleagues in Atlanta, that someone mentioned “Jamaican vomiting sickness,” an outbreak in the West Indies that for many decades caused brain swelling, convulsions and altered mental states in children.

The outbreak turned out to be tied to hypoglycin, a toxin found in the ackee fruit that inhibits the body’s ability to synthesize glucose, leading to acute hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose levels. “It had been going on for a decade, if not a century, before people really figured out what it was,” Dr. Srikantiah said. “Now, the grandmothers and the mothers teach their kids, ‘Don’t eat the unripe ackee fruit.’ ”

By late 2014, laboratory tests confirmed that lychees also contain high levels of hypoglycin, as well as a similar toxin known as methylenecyclopropyl glycine, or MCPG.

This was an answer hiding in plain sight. The Muzaffarpur area, in India’s east, produces about 70 percent of India’s lychee harvest, and around the affected villages, “you really couldn’t go 100 meters without bumping into a lychee orchard,” Dr. Srikantiah said, referring to a distance of 330 feet.

Though orchards were typically guarded by caretakers, children often ate lychees that were unripe or that had fallen to the ground. But because everyone in the region eats them, it was difficult for many to believe that, in isolated cases, it could set off a catastrophic illness.

The fourth clue: Affected children had huge metabolic imbalances.

By early 2015, C.D.C. laboratories had developed a test to measure hypoglycin in urine. They found extraordinary abnormalities in the affected children. “The folks in the genetic labs said ‘We haven’t seen anything like this,’ ” Dr. Srikantiah said. “This was clearly abnormal.”

With that established, the investigators asked participants if they would be comfortable issuing recommendations based on their findings: that young children in the affected areas be encouraged to always eat an evening meal, and that consumption of lychees should be limited.

Everyone agreed. And it was done.



A version of this article appears in print on February 1, 2017, on Page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Medical Mystery in India Uncovers Unlikely Killer of Malnourished Children.



Offline sabertooth

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PLease read article inserted  below which was published three days ago in the NYTIMES .


This discovery would seem to call  for a  revision of the instinctive theory.

According to the study below , malnourished children can sometimes be killed  by following their own instinctively driven behaviour

This discovery seems to fly in the face of a theory which until now,  foresaw that instinctive eating, when given full command, would entail a swift cure of malnourishment.

However  the term "unripe" in this  article should ring a bell in our minds : have these unripe fruits been selected  after due approval by the sense of smell ? Or have they been swallowed in a similar way as the toxic berries mentionned by  Rousseau in his famous  " Emile ou de l'éducation" ?


Reminds me of the Blue lagoon, where a truly instinctive( though fictional child) picks and eats poison berries. The berries actually only induce sleep, but the story line insinuated that the may be deadly....perhaps this fictional child knew instinctively what to do....much in the same way the truly instinctive humans know what to do.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=281jcZQbpL0

Nobody tells the animals what to eat, or how much to eat or at what time of day to eat and yet they have developed an instinctive ability to not poison themselves and maintain their health so long as the environment is capable of supporting their basic needs.....though it should be obvious that the malnourished Indian children who Overdosed on raw unripe fruit, were far from the instinctive ideal. Likely lentil and rice gruel consumers who where near starvation and never developed an instinctive stop mechanism.
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Offline sabertooth

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Offline Eric

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Nobody tells the animals what to eat, or how much to eat or at what time of day to eat and yet they have developed an instinctive ability to not poison themselves and maintain their health so long as the environment is capable of supporting their basic needs.....though it should be obvious that the malnourished Indian children who Overdosed on raw unripe fruit, were far from the instinctive ideal. Likely lentil and rice gruel consumers who where near starvation and never developed an instinctive stop mechanism.

Sometimes this is true, but not always. Take, for instance, the plant belladonna. It's very toxic, but tastes sweet and has coevolved to use birds as a seed dispersal agent. The birds eat the sweet berries, which kill them after a short period. The birds fall dead, and the seeds sprout from amidst their decomposing bodies and use the fertile soil around the carcass to nourish themselves. The plant specifically uses birds' instinct to propagate itself, killing the birds in the process.
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Sometimes this is true, but not always. Take, for instance, the plant belladonna. It's very toxic, but tastes sweet and has coevolved to use birds as a seed dispersal agent. The birds eat the sweet berries, which kill them after a short period. The birds fall dead, and the seeds sprout from amidst their decomposing bodies and use the fertile soil around the carcass to nourish themselves. The plant specifically uses birds' instinct to propagate itself, killing the birds in the process.
You make a good point. But some birds do seem to evolve an adaptation to poisons in plants. For example, parrots in the jungle, after eating too many toxin-laden plants, always fly over to clay-rich sites so that they can eat the kaolin-rich clay which detoxes the poisons from their bodies.


Hmm:-
Quote
Rabbits, sheep, goats and swine eat the leaves with impunity, and birds often eat the seeds without any apparent effect, but it is toxic to many domestic animals, causing narcosis and paralysis.  However, cattle and rabbits eat the plant seemingly without suffering harmful effects. 
taken from:-
http://www.brickfieldspark.org/data/deadlynightshade.htm


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Offline sabertooth

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There are of course exceptions to just about every rule...and through the evolutionary arms race the art of survival is crafted. The genetics works its magic, in such a way that yesterdays poison becomes tomorrows Manna.

Obviously the organisms who lack the sensitivity to detect and avoid the traps set by other organisms, get weeded out of the living matrix. As a result of nearly a billion years of this process, human beings have evolved incredible powers of perception, as well as many other traits which protect from dangerous elements of the environment.

Humans have incredible mutagenic abilities which do not often get the praise of science. There are people who have made themselves entirely immune to snake Venom, while others can consume relatively lethal amounts of drugs or alcohol or other poisons and by some protective adaption survive, and in a number of cases even thrive.

The question Ive been asking in relation to the instinctive philosophy, is regarding the existence of a peak to this process of ever evolving higher and higher sense acuity? Or has the evolution of our survival instinct mechanisms become sublimated to an artificial order which will lead to a degradation of the apex, in intellectual and instinctual prowess.

This line of thinking is of paramount relevance to the plight of those, {would be} instinctively driven individuals of modern world. Are our aversions representative of a healthy instinctive response or have we become so perverted by the artifice of life encapsulated within a technological bubble, that the instinctive sensibilities no longer function correctly? Are our attractors syncopated with the optimal flow of the epigenetic rhythms of Gaia, or are they a manifestation of the degradational effects of mammon?

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Offline Bookworm

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Regarding Tyler's "Are our aversions representative of a healthy instinctive response or have we become so perverted by the artifice of life encapsulated within a technological bubble, that the instinctive sensibilities no longer function correctly?"

There are two kinds of aversions : instinctive or physiological, and psychological.
My instinctive / physiological aversions have been profoundly  modified under instinctive diet. Some aversions took much longer than others to disappear. At the beginning I could not stand the smell of mangoes. Smelled exactly like pure turpentine to me. Not  "disgusting" per se , but such a strong smell that I would avoid mangos at all cost. Needless to say,  after a year or so of detox,  I loved mangos.
Physiological aversions are mostly the reflection of one's healthy /unhealthy intestinal flora. 
One of the major problem facing todays dieteticians and on which you may find quite a lot of science papers : many  people who eat junk foods do have aversions for healthy foods, precisely because their intestinal flora is heavily damaged ....

Here is the famous quote from Rousseau's Emile  where the philosopher stands for our food instinct  "Nous mourrions affamés ou empoisonnés s'il fallait attendre pour choisir des nourritures que l'expérience nous eût appris à les connaitre ou à les choisir"

Obviously physicians, including the greatest hygienists like Shelton in the US, or Carton in France, took Rousseau to task for this idea.
Carton , a right wing christian traditionalist  wrote in reply that "le bon plaisir du palais ne peut décréter exactement ce qui convient à l'estomac" , a bit hard to swallow from one of the rare physicians  & natural hygienist  who was a staunch advocate of a raw food diet (albeit not 100% raw).
As far as I can reckon, Carton's position remains the "official" position of right-wing-christian-physicians-and-medical-skeptics  in France,  until now.

It's worth noting that at the time when  Carton was opposing Rousseau medical naturism (in the 1930-1940's), the leader of left wing christian intellectuals in France, Emmanuel Mounier, founder of so called "personalist philosophy" in France  seems to have shared Rousseau's opinion on food instinct ( by the way,  Karol Wojtyla was definitely a personalist philosopher - he wrote on philosophy,  and taught philosophy. This is just to let you know, in case you wouldn't have heard about it,  that personalism is one of the highly rated ideological movement in today's  christian world. We are not talking about a philosophical sect here ...).
 
The more I delve into the extraordinary richness of  christian philosophy (at least outside France ) the more I think the story  of food instinct is  not a matter for historians of science , but rather a matter for historians of philosophy . 

Please take my word for it : Burger's ironic comment on Saint Thomas in his book, is the key which opens the door to the christian sources on the philosophy of food instinct. It took me a while to understand this. But it is  becoming more and more clear : we are talking about a non thomasian epistemology. 


   






Offline sabertooth

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Philosophy is a matter of taste.

Its my opinion that the ancient Tao masters of the east had interesting ways of understanding the ways of nature.

Alan Watts makes some good points regarding human choice and instinct
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7CH9cRN8Rg
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