Gut Fermentation Syndrome Caused Texan to Brew Beer in his Belly

First Posted: Sep 20, 2013 03:18 PM EDT

Doctors were uncertain what was causing a 61-year-old Texan's drunken state when he had assured medical officials that he had not been drinking alcohol. In fact, they didn't believe the former brewer when he showed up at a nearby hospital complaining about feeling drunk.

A breath test showed that the man was almost five times over the legal limit, yet he insisted that he hadn't had anything to drink that day. As doctor's puzzled at the possibilities that the doctor could be a closet alcoholic, a team of gastroenterologists hoped to better understand his condition by isolating the man in an alcohol-free hospital room over a 24-hour period.

He was then fed a carbohydrate-rich diet and underwent regular blood alcohol checks, including a series of tests in which the doctors found that he was telling the truth. Researchers believe that the man's intestinal tract was acting like an internal brewery, according to NPR.

They went on to explain that the man seemed to have a build-up of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in his intestinal tract, and when he ate a carbohydrate-rich diet with pasta and bagels, the yeast began to ferment in his gut.

The condition's known as "gut fermentation syndrome" or "auto-brewery syndrome" and can cause starch to ferment sugar and produce ethanol. This rare health issue only happens after people take antibiotics, according to NPR. Wiping out all the bacteria in a person's stomach provides the opportunity for yeast to grow and multiply.

The Business Insider notes that the man's home brewery which contained a large amounts of live yeast might have had something to do with his condition. Fortunately, after being on a low-carbohydrate diet and regimen of antifungals, he recovered.

More information regarding the study can be found via the journal Alcohol in Health and Disease

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