Phenylketonuria Patients Only Eat Fruits and Vegetables to Avoid Brain Damage
People with phenylketonuria (PKU) are not able to process the essential amino acids which are found in foods rich in proteins. PKU is a metabolic disorder that if untreated can cause brain damage, mental retardation and seizures. As a result, PKU patients must perform low-protein diet for lifetime.
To detect PKU inspection is usually done immediately after a baby is born. But if it is known that in the family there is a member who suffer from PKU, doctor will probably suggest to check before the baby is born.
Examples of people with PKU is Borsi Batki (7 years) which is currently undergoing a diet program, but he did not do it to lose weight. Borsi has a rare genetic disorder which makes him only able to eat vegetables and fruits.
“Treatment should be started early, ideally within two weeks after birth. Without a test it is difficult to diagnose PKU, because the initial signs are very subtle. The baby will look easily angered and moments later have seizures,” said Dr. Inderneel Sahai, head of health department of the New England Newborn Screening Program in Boston.
If PKU is not detected and treated at birth, then at the age of 6 months the baby will suffer irreversible damage. Therefore, people with PKU should start eating right from birth until the rest of their lives. It is estimated that 1 in 15,000 people around the world have PKU.
Diet for PKU patients is a must to avoid high-protein foods like meat, eggs, nuts and dairy products. People with PKU are allowed to eat low protein flour but have to monitor carefully the amount of intake.
Besides that, drinks or foods that contain aspartame artificial sweeteners should be avoided, because if the sweetener is digested in the body, it will produce the phenylalanine amino acid. For that supplements containing other amino acids is needed to help people with PKU have a balanced diet.
“Management of the diet is a need, but must still be monitored by a nutrition medical examination through regular blood testing,” said Sahai.