Why Can You Die If Litchi is Eaten On An Empty Stomach?

There have been instances of illness and death associated with the consumption of litchi fruit on an empty stomach, particularly among children in certain regions of India. This phenomenon, known as “acute encephalopathy syndrome” (AES) or “litchi-induced encephalopathy” (LIE), has been a subject of research and investigation.

The specific reason for the association between litchi consumption and illness is not yet fully understood, but researchers have proposed a hypothesis based on several factors. Litchi contains certain natural compounds, including hypoglycin A and methylene cyclopropyl glycine (MCPG), which are known to inhibit the body’s ability to produce glucose. Additionally, litchi consumption has been found to be associated with a drop in blood sugar levels in some individuals.

The proposed theory is that when litchi is eaten on an empty stomach, especially by malnourished individuals, the combination of low blood sugar levels and the effects of the inhibitory compounds in litchi can lead to a condition called “hypoglycemic encephalopathy.” This condition is characterized by a sudden drop in blood sugar levels, which can cause symptoms such as seizures, unconsciousness, and even death.

Furthermore, it has been observed that the illness primarily affects children from impoverished backgrounds who may have consumed large quantities of litchi and experienced prolonged periods of fasting. Their bodies may be more susceptible to the effects of the inhibitory compounds in litchi due to underlying malnutrition and limited glycogen stores.

It’s important to note that these occurrences are specific to a particular region and context and do not imply that litchi is inherently dangerous or lethal. As with any food, moderation and a balanced diet are crucial for overall health and well-being. If you have concerns or questions about your specific circumstances, it is always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional.

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