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  • It almost sounds like a Sherlock Holmes case:

  • A 61-year-old man staggers into a Texas emergency room feeling light-headed, nauseous, and dizzy.

  • The nurses think he looks kinda hammered, so they give him a Breathalyzer test, and

  • sure enough, his blood alcohol concentration clocks in at a very drunk .37 percent.

  • But thing is, the guy claims he hasn't had a single drink today.

  • In fact, he says he's been experiencing sudden and unexplained bouts of drunkenness

  • for years.

  • So what's up?

  • Is the guy a closet drinker?

  • Is he suffering some kind of amnesia, or sleep-boozing, or what?

  • The doctors decide to check the man's pockets for hidden booze, then monitor him in an isolated

  • hospital room for 24 hours.

  • They have him eat a lot of carb-heavy foods while staff take various readings and watch

  • what happens to his blood alcohol content.

  • What they eventually find, is that the guy has an over-abundance of brewer's yeast

  • in his digestive system, and it's basically turning his guts into a fermentation vat,

  • converting carbohydrate sugars into ethanol, and getting him sloshed.

  • As you've probably guessed by now, this story actually happened, back in 2010.

  • And in the end, the man's doctors diagnosed him with auto-brewery, or gut fermentation

  • syndrome.

  • Basically, his digestive system was turning carbohydrates into alcohol.

  • Cue the beer belly jokes.…

  • Here's what his doctors figured was happening:

  • When most people eat yeasty foods, the yeast passes right on through their body.

  • But sometimes it's possible for that yeast to stick around in larger numbers.

  • The Texan man's troubles seem to have started after he completed a hardcore round of antibiotics

  • that wiped out his good gut bacteria, eliminating the competition and allowing yeasts and other

  • fungi to take over.

  • So whenever he'd eat carbohydrates, the extra yeast in his digestive system would start

  • fermenting those carbs into alcohol, which would end up in his bloodstream.

  • He was literally getting drunk on bread.

  • The doctors treated the man by having him take antifungal drugs and probiotics to restore

  • his good bacteria.

  • They also had him eat a low-carb diet help to keep the yeast in check.

  • Now, this wasn't the first-ever case of auto-brewery syndrome.

  • Some children with short bowel syndrome -- an intestinal condition that makes proper nutrient

  • absorption difficult -- have also shown signs of extra yeast causing intoxication.

  • And researchers in Japan have documented similar reports of serious digestive yeast infections

  • and spontaneous tipsiness, dating back to the 1970s.

  • Even so, this syndrome is both rare and controversial, because all we have is this handful of mysterious

  • case studies.

  • It's just hard to figure out what's actually causing the problem without more research

  • -- like a controlled clinical trial.

  • Plus, when it comes to getting drunk without drinking, an over-abundance of yeast may not

  • be the only factor involved.

  • There's also a problem with certain enzymes.

  • Normally, alcohol gets broken down by particular liver enzymes.

  • But in some people, genetic mutations mean they don't produce those enzymes properly.

  • So they can end up feeling drunk after drinking a relatively small amount of alcohol.

  • This mutation affects a disproportionate number of Asian people -- about one in three, which

  • could help explain why Japan has the highest number of reported gut fermentation syndrome

  • cases.

  • Combine extra yeast with a rice-heavy diet and abnormal enzymes and you might find yourself

  • getting accidentally sauced as those carbohydrates turn to ethanol that doesn't get processed

  • quickly enough.

  • It's pretty easy to test for these enzyme deficiencies, but so far there's no definitive

  • test for auto-brewery syndrome in people with the usual enzymes.

  • Since it's so difficult to clearly diagnose, it would be hard for researchers to set up

  • studies and trials.

  • So, until there's a better way to diagnose it, auto-brewery syndrome is a condition that

  • will probably continue to be rare and mysterious.

  • Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow, which was brought to you by our patrons on

  • Patreon.

  • If you want to help support this show, just go to patreon.com/scishow.

  • And don't forget to go to youtube.com/scishow and subscribe!

It almost sounds like a Sherlock Holmes case:

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How to Get Drunk on Bread

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    joey joey に公開 2021 年 06 月 30 日
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