Zika & Other musings


So Zika virus has gone prime-time now. If you read about it (the fine-print now that was not fine-print few weeks ago), the symptoms may seem quite benign – nowhere near Ebola or other (nano) monsters. The usual flu like symptoms, we are all too familiar with, and the fact that most people may not show symptoms (just carriers), like Dengue. So what’s the big deal – you might certainly ask, if pregnancy is not on your mind.

So why the panic? The fact that there is a clear link to microcephaly is the scary thing. It reminds one of the movie Children of Men – a story set in the future with no babies around. Given the spread of virus, and no cure yet, it can be a disaster for human race if our generations are born intellectually-crippled – nothing short of a doomsday scenario!

As of now, the more immediate casualty in India is the new Tata Indica Zica with their TV ad-campaign still doing the rounds 🙂


Another interesting reading last week was on calories. The story published in Mosaic Science says that a calorie is not what it seems to be. The fad in dieting and weight-control is to read nutrition-labels before consuming off-the-shelf ready-to-eat foods.

The gist of the article is that calorie-count is highly subjective to the person consuming the food and preparation-method of the food itself. Just like cows need bacteria to digest (breakdown) their food, humans too need the gut-biome to extract energy from the food. The biome is very dynamic, changes with travel, food, antibiotics, stress-level etc. So the same banana you eat will release different quantity of calories depending on the state of your gut-bacteria!

Fruits & raw veggies

The other side is the food – cooked food releases more calories than raw. So effectively, the labels on food packaging may be wrong if they go by weight of raw-ingredients! No wonder, eating salads and fruits is always advisable than processed foods. They keep you full longer and help in weight-reduction. Fruit is better than fruit-juice, in the same vein. I for one, plan to switch to roasted peanuts from peanut-butter, and shelled dry-fruits rather than the yummy salted-roasted ones.