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How Irom Sharmila’s Nasal-Gastric Tube Feeding Affects the Body

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In India, we follow a custom of having something sweet before an important event. And for Irom Sharmila, Tuesday was one of the most important events of her life — it was the day she ended her 16-year-old long hunger strike by a lick of honey.

Sharmila, through 16 years, was forcefully nose-fed a liquidised mixture of rice, dal and boiled vegetables, something which doctors and nutritionist would never recommend.

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What’s This Liquid Diet Sharmila Lived On?

A Ryles tube reached her stomach through the nose. (Photo Courtesy: facebook.com/Iron-Lady-of-Manipur-Irom-Sharmila-Chanu)

For 16 years, Sharmila had an external umbilical chord (read Ryles tube) attached to her body, so that the nurses could force feed her. A Ryles tube reached the stomach through the nose and she was fed a liquified mixture of vitamins, carbohydrates and proteins, aka rice, dal, boiled vegetable, the same calorific intake that you and I consume on a daily basis.

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How Does the Nasal-Gastric Tube Feeding Affect the Body?

(Gif Courtesy: giphy.com)

Imagine a weathered road that’s not often travelled on. That’s exactly what happens to a human body when it’s only on liquid diet.

“The body has been living on pre-digested food, and that’s obviously not much of a work. And over a period of time, your digestive system turns weak, as you are no longer chewing food,” said Dr Atul Gogia, consultant, Department of Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

But that’s not all.

“The body’s glycogen (energy source) runs out. Your bones turn weak. You’ll also suffer from bad breath, fatigue and constipation,” said Kavita Devgan, nutritionist and author.

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Hey Body, Have you Met Solid Foods yet?

(Gif Courtesy: img.ucweb.com)

For the digestive system, being on a liquid diet feels like a looong vacation with no work. And it’ll take a while before you catch up with all that you’ve missed out on.

“It’s back to baby diet. It’s a backward process when it comes to food and it’ll take a couple of weeks or months for her or anyone’s system to accept it. She or anybody cannot start with solid food from day one, as the body will not be able to immediately digest it. You need to start with water, juices, basically what your body has been used to all this while. Then you slowly move to semi-solid food like khichdi, boiled vegetables, porridge and so on and so forth,” said Kavita.

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Would There Be Any Allergic Reactions to Food?

(Gif Courtesy: giphy.com)

Allergic reactions to food are unlikely to take place, as human body is pretty adaptable and within six months the system would have recovered, if not completely. But according to some doctors, people could face some allergic reactions. “There could be an allergic reaction to whole grams like wheat that’s also because digesting wheat is not the easiest after days or months of liquid diet,” said Dr Anil Arora, Chairman, Department of Gastroenterology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

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For Irom Sharmila, this liquid diet was for a cause, a cause she still believes in. But for us lesser mortals, THIS diet is strictly not the prescribed way to go.

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Topics:  AFSPA   Irom Sharmila   Manipur Protest 

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