Homebrewers have long debated whether it is better to brew beer in glass or plastic, not realizing there is a third, more direct option — their own guts. A man in Texas has a condition that ferments sugars into alcohol within the confines of his own digestive system. That counts as a superpower, right?
The 61-year-old Texas man went into an emergency room with complaints of dizziness, and when nurses gave him a breathalyzer he blew a 0.37. He was drunk — real drunk — but claimed he hadn’t had a drop to drink that day.
Likely story, drunk guy! Initially doctors and nurses thought he was lying about not drinking and wrote him off, because he was obviously very, very drunk, but he caught the attention of Barbara Cordell, dean of nursing at Panola College; and Dr. Justin McCarthy. They believed the man and wanted to find out what was happening.
To eliminate the possibility of him lying about secretly drinking alcohol they confined him to a hospital room for 24 hours and searched all his belongings for booze. During his alcohol-free day in the hospital, the man’s BAC hit 0.12, well over the legal limit to drive.
So what makes this magic man get drunk?
Saccharomyces cerevisiae, commonly known as Brewer’s Yeast.
The man brews his own beer at home, and the yeast managed to set up shop in his guts, which they don’t normally do. Brewer’s Yeast is common in many foods, and typically does what you expect food to do– pass through. In rare cases, however, it can stick around in the intestines where it continues to do its thing.
Since its thing happens to be converting sugar to alcohol, whenever the man ate or drank something the yeast could convert, he wound up getting drunk. It’s called “Auto-brewery syndrome” and as far as syndromes go, it might be the best one.
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