Auto-brewery syndrome, also known as gut fermentation syndrome, is a new phenomenon that can cause the body to feel that it is drunk, without drinking any alcohol. This extremely rare condition usually occurs in combination with other gastrointestinal problems that required surgery. Symptoms of gut fermentation syndrome include unexplained nausea, headaches, dizziness or brain fog.
Though it seems far-fetched, the body can get just as drunk from sugar as it can from alcohol, if you have too much yeast in your gut. Yeast is a fungus that naturally resides in a healthy human gut. However, too much yeast in the gut can start to cause problems. Yeast feeds on sugar and starch, and when the two interact, they create ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide as byproducts. When this reaction occurs in a brewery, you get beer. When the same reaction occurs inside your gut, you get auto-brewery syndrome—aka drunk from within.
Though the chemical processes are slightly different, the effects are very similar. The yeast found in beer and breads is generally Saccharomyces cerevisiae, while the yeast that often colonizes in the human gut is known as Candida albicans.
When Candida metabolizes sugar, it produces byproducts and chemical derivatives of alcohol. When those byproducts and alcohol derivatives get into your circulatory system, it can give you the feeling of being hung over or drunk. And for certain people, the result of these gut interactions is not just a feeling, but also a measurable change in blood-alcohol content.
The effects of gut fermentation syndrome are the same as consuming alcohol, except that it’s chronic. Drinking alcohol increases inflammation in the body and adds considerable stress to the liver, as does this rare condition. In essence, these microbes in your body are drinking and having a party while you pay the price for it.
The good news is that you can regain control over your body by starving off the yeast in your gut and reconditioning the gut microbiome. The best way to starve the yeast in your gut is to reduce your consumption of grains and sweets. A low-carb, paleo-friendly diet that is rich in healthy fibers and vegetables can help control a yeast overgrowth and reduce the likelihood of developing gut fermentation syndrome.
In addition to dietary changes, you can also recondition your gut microbiome to protect from harmful gut infections, like a yeast overgrowth. The best way to recondition the gut is with spore-based probiotics, a stronger class of probiotics uniquely designed to protect the human host. The problem with most probiotics is that they contain weak probiotic strains that cannot survive the harsh environment of the gastric system. By the time they reach the intestines, most probiotics are nothing more than bacterial debris – unable to make lasting effects on the microbial environment.
Probiotic spores, on the other hand, have a strong, protective coating that shields them from harsh environments like the gastric system. This unique design allows them to survive digestion, colonize in the gut, rebalance the gut microflora, and increase microbial diversity in the gut. When used in combination with a low-carbohydrate, fiber-rich diet, probiotic spores are one of the most effective interventions for a yeast overgrowth—whether it’s a mild imbalance, or it’s making you drunk from the inside out.