AUTO-BREWERY SYNDROME (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     27th April 2024        
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Context: Recently, a Belgian man was acquitted of drunk driving due to auto-brewery syndrome (ABS), a rare condition where the body produces alcohol, as stated by his lawyer.

Auto-Brewery Syndrome

  • About: It is also referred to as gut fermentation syndrome.
  • Found: It occurs when certain fungi or bacteria in the gut produce excessive amounts of ethanol, converting carbohydrates from food into alcohol.
  • Caused by: fermentation of ingested carbohydrate by gut fungi resulting in endogenous production of ethanol.
  • Biochemical Process: It involves the body's conversion of sugary and starchy foods into alcohol, leading to symptoms akin to intoxication.
  • Metabolic Waste: While yeasts and fungi metabolize sugars and starches for energy, they also produce ethanol and carbon dioxide as byproducts.
  • Symptoms: Individuals may experience drunkenness without consuming alcohol or become significantly intoxicated with minimal alcohol intake.

o Common Symptoms: Dizziness, headache, and dehydration are typical symptoms, alongside others.

  • Risk Factors: People with diabetes, obesity, or Crohn's disease are at higher risk, although ABS can affect healthy individuals too.
  • Treatment: Medical advice often recommends avoiding high-carbohydrate and sugary foods to manage ABS symptoms effectively.
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