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Auto-Brewery Syndrome: A Real Beer Belly

A 61-year-man in Texas went to a hospital complaining of dizziness. He was very drunk, but insisted he hadn't had a drink that day. His wife said he would become drunk at odd times. Hospital staff assumed he was lying about drinking, but gastroenterologist Dr. Justin McCarthy and Panola College dean of nursing Barbara Cordell wanted to get to the bottom of the case. They isolated the patient and monitored his blood-alcohol level for 24 hours, and found his alcohol level spontaneously went up after eating!

Eventually, McCarthy and Cordell pinpointed the culprit: an overabundance of brewer's yeast in his gut.

That's right, folks. According to Cordell and McCarthy, the man's intestinal tract was acting like his own internal brewery.

The patient had an infection with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Cordell says. So when he ate or drank a bunch of starch — a bagel, pasta or even a soda — the yeast fermented the sugars into ethanol, and he would get drunk. Essentially, he was brewing beer in his own gut. Cordell and McCarthy the case of "auto-brewery syndrome" a few months ago in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine.  

The condition is quite rare, as brewer's yeast is usually not a problem for a healthy digestive system. Link -via Arbroath


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