Monthly Archives: May 2013

Stop Rotavirus in its tracks

Rotavirus, a name most despised by parents, is a highly infectious virus that causes diarrhea in children which can last up to two weeks. It also causes vomiting and high fever. Rotavirus can be so severe that children can quickly become dehydrated and need hospitalization. It can infect people of all ages but the infection most often occurs and is more severe in children less than 5 years of age. Worldwide Rotavirus is responsible for 611,000 childhood deaths out of which more than 80% occur in low-income countries. (Taneja and Malik, 2012)*.

This virus spreads through fecal-oral route i.e. infected people can infect others if they don’t sanitize hands properly after a bowel movement. People caring for a rotavirus affected child can spread this disease if they don’t sanitize their hands after cleaning the child or a nappy change. This virus then reaches the surfaces when touched and thus catches hold of their new prey. When one person in the family has caught Rotavirus parents need to be super attentive in their clean up, hand washing, laundry, food preparation and trash related work.

Symptoms of rotavirus infection include fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, severe watery diarrhea, irritability and it can be diagnosed by testing the sample of stool of the patient. The treatment includes antibiotic therapy along with extensive rehydration therapy because a child can quickly become dehydrated because of recurrent diarrhea and vomiting.

This hydration can be achieved by taking in extra fluids in the form of water and ORS (oral rehydration solution) available as a powder as well as tetrapaks. As the vomiting subsides the child should be put on a liquid diet which can include clear broths of chicken or vegetables, diluted fruit / vegetable juices, ORS.

As a dip is seen in frequency of bowel movement, the child should be gradually graduated from liquid to soft diet; but be sure to keep the child hydrated. Offer the child some light soft easy to digest foods like banana, stewed apple, boiled rice / pasta, khichri / gruels, strained vegetable puree (starchy vegetable like potato or easy to digest bottle gourd), washed pulses as soups. The last thing that should be introduced back into the baby’s diet is milk and milk products.

Foods to be avoided include: Raw vegetables & fruits, high fiber vegetables like tomatoes, beans, peas etc., whole grain cereals & their products, whole pulses & split pulses, dry fruits & nuts, fried and spicy foods, fatty & tough meats.

How to prevent this infection?

Get your baby vaccinated as it will prevent the infection or even if your baby gets the infection it will decrease the severity of it. But there is a small hitch; the vaccine cannot be given once your baby is 8 months old. If your baby has crossed this mark be extra cautious about wiping and cleaning baby’s and your hands before they eat. The same goes for food preparation at least till they cross 5 year mark.

8 children every 10 seconds will die of rotavirus infection before their 5th birthday. What we can do is to educate mothers to get their newborns vaccinated (remember it is only till 8 months) or to identify the symptoms and take timely medical aid.

Suggested Read:

*Taneja DK, Malik A. Burden of rotavirus in India – Is rotavirus vaccine an answer to it? Indian J Public Health 2012;56:17-21

Proteins: Whey, Soy, Casein….. Decoded

My mother’s colleague has been worrying herself to death and the cause of this…. Her 16 year old son wants to take protein shakes for body building. She doesn’t want him to start taking the supplements as she thinks these will have negative effects on his health. So she wanted a little help from me; to persuade him not to take these. What do you think was my reply? Excerpts from what I explained to him…

Milk constitutes of two kinds of proteins: Casein and Whey, which are widely used in Sports field and medicine to fulfill the excess protein demands which are not satisfied by diet alone. Out of 100% of the protein content of milk 80% is casein and remaining is whey protein. When cheese (paneer) is extracted from milk casein stays with cheese and the by-product (yellowish green liquid) comprises of whey protein.

Whey: Whey Protein is quickly absorbed in the body and has a high concentration of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) which are used to fuel muscles and which stimulate protein synthesis. Commercially whey protein is available in three major forms: concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate.

  • Whey concentrate has 29-89% protein depending upon the product. The lower the amount of protein, the amounts of fat and lactose in that formulation increase.
  • Whey Isolates yield a higher percentage of pure protein and can be virtually lactose, carbohydrate, fat and cholesterol free. They are at least 90% protein by weight.
  • Whey Hydrosylate: Whey protein is hydrolyzed (chemically changed) to synthesize hydrolysates. Long protein chains are broken down into smaller segments called “peptides”.

Hydrolyzed Vs Non-Hydrolyzed Whey: Hydrolyzed Whey is less likely to cause an allergic reaction than non-hydrolyzed one. It is most commonly used in infant formulas and specialty protein supplements for medical use.

Whey Isolate Vs Concentrate: Whey Isolates tend to be less allergenic than Concentrates. Whey isolate is the most pure and concentrated form of whey protein available.

Whey protein is essential in the field of bodybuilding, athletics, and sports today because of its ability to be digested very rapidly. It helps in returning the post-workout body back from a catabolic to an anabolic state.

Casein: This protein is also derived from milk and is popular because of a very unique property. It forms a gel in the stomach which leads to slow digestion and slow release of amino acids sometimes lasting for several hours. Due to this property casein is slowly digested and thus it can used as an excellent post workout supplement.

Soy protein is extracted from soybean. Soy protein is commercially processed into concentrates and isolates. Soy protein isolate is a highly refined form of soy protein with a minimum protein content of 90%. It is made from soy flour from which most of the fat and carbohydrate has been removed. Soy protein concentrate is about 70% soy protein. Soy protein concentrate is easily digestible and thus is well-suited for children, pregnant, lactating women and elderly. Soy protein is considered to have a similar protein quality as animal proteins. A study published on the effect of soy protein on lipids concluded that soy protein is related with decrease in total cholesterol, LDL and triglyceride concentration. After this study FDA granted that “25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Can be taken safely by a lactose intolerant person.

These proteins are derived from our usual food sources but are more beneficial because of the processing techniques they undergo. They do not cause any side effects whatsoever if taken by someone who really needs them.

How to determine the need?