In this article they discuss recent studies done in China that started with finding a patient with severe “Auto-brewery” syndrome. In this syndrome the gut of people who eat large amounts of carbohydrate can become colonized with bacteria and yeast that are called “fermentors” because they break down carbohydrates with an end product of alcohol. The most common cause is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the yeast commonly used to brew beer.
In the patient they found they tried giving him a yeast killing medicine known to kill Saccharomyces cerevisiae but there was no change in his condition. They found a common alcohol fermenting bacteria called Klebsiella pneumonia which commonly colonizes the upper respiratory tract in the gut of the patient.
They started thinking maybe this chronic exposure to blood alcohol could be damaging the liver. Their next study was on humans with and without fatty liver disease called: “Fatty Liver Disease Caused by High-Alcohol-Producing Klebsiella pneumoniae”. They found the following: “In our cohort, the data showed that 61% of NAFLD patients carried [high] and medium-alcohol-producing [K. pneumonia], while this value was only 6.25% in controls” In laymen’s terms the people with damaged livers were 10 time more likely to have high levels of alcohol producing Klebsiella in their gut that people without liver damage. And they found that the patients with liver damage had average levels of blood alcohol 3.5 times higher that the subjects with healthy livers.
Then they did an experiment in mice with totally sterile guts containing no bacteria or yeast in which they colonized their guts with bacteria from either a person or mouse with high levels of Klebsiella and then fed them a high carb diet. In both cases liver damage was apparent within 8 Weeks.
In this review article: “Alcohol and the Intestine” they summarize all the bad things alcohol can do to the gut: “In summary, intestinal dysbiosis caused by alcohol can exacerbate the detrimental effects associated with alcohol. Changes such as altered immune phenotype due to dysbiosis, increased proinflammatory bacteria (e.g., gram negative bacteria containing LPS), a reduction in SCFA-producing bacteria, or bacterial overgrowth would be expected to negatively impact the host via multiple mechanisms including intestinal barrier integrity.” In other words alcohol in the gut leads to inflammation and exposure of the immune system around the gut to foreign proteins that can cause autoimmune disorder through the mechanism of leak gut which I have written about in my article: Eating plants increases your risk of developing an autoimmune disease due to “Leaky Gut”.
Klebsiella is a major suspect in autoimmune diseases associated with people who carry the HLA B-27 antigen. Here a quote from the Wikipedia article on Klebsiella pneumonia: “Research conducted at King’s College, London has implicated molecular mimicry between HLA-B27 and two Klebsiella surface molecules as the cause of ankylosing spondylitis”. Also in the article they mention that pneumonia caused by Klebsiella pneumonia has around a 50% mortality rate.
A whole lot more research is needed to find out how common this problem is but till then I’m happy I’m on a low carb ketogenic diet and don’t have to worry about it.