how my broken gut made me a cheap date - gut dysbiosis, DNA SNPs and alcohol
[ Trigger warning: death, loss ]
If you've read some of my previous blog posts, you'll know that the events that destroyed my gut in 2014 were the unexpected deaths of my brother and mother 3 weeks apart. Stress, anyone? Stress plucks beneficial bacteria from the gut faster than i can pluck blueberries from a bush on a hot July day in Virginia. The aftermath of their deaths also took a toll - I, being the last surviving member of my birth family, was left alone to handle their final arrangements, figure out what to do with all their belongings, etc., and all while in Virginia, 2500 miles away from my kids and friends back home in Arizona. I have never felt so small and alone in all my life. The stress took out my good gut buddies, and nearly took me out all together. I was barely hanging on at 95 lbs, riddled with candida and anxiety.
Fast forward 3 months to my return to Arizona; i was a changed person in more ways than one. My gut was healing with the help of a specific protocol and GABA was helping hold my anxiety in check. In another month, i felt compelled (far too prematurely, it turned out) to try to return to "normal life."
While out one night with a group of friends, i had 3 drinks over the course of a few hours. Theoretically, i should've been sober or at least well on my way by the time we left the bar. Well...nope. I felt as though i had consumed at least double the amount of alcohol i actually had. I wondered if i had been roofied. No, i was coherent and alert - just very drunkenly so.
Then came the crying drunk.
Then came sitting in the passenger seat of my car in the driveway (don't worry - i would walk 7 miles before driving drunk. And i did - i did walk 7 miles that night), making voice recordings on my phone that went something like this: "OMG, i'm sooooo drunk ::sniffle::. Whyyyyyyy? Why am i sooooooo drunk? ::sob:: I should not be THIS drunk right now. Why am i THIS DRUNK right now? I only had three drinks ::choking sob:: Something is really really wrong and i don't understaaaaaaand."
I didn't know about DNA SNPs at that time or about epigenetics - the turning on and off of genes, or how the gut affects that process. Now that my gut is healed and functioning properly, it seems the "cheap date" genes have stopped expressing. I am no longer experiencing the intense, lingering drunkenness of my gut-dysbiotic days.
I'm glad to have experienced those bizarre episodes, though. I always learn something from even the most unpleasant experiences. From this, i learned the immense power of the gut to regulate so many functions of the body - down to affecting our very DNA. It made me wonder how many conditions can be affected - and healed - with proper balancing of the gut. Respect.
If you're on a healing journey, keep seeking, keep going. You never know what can be healed until suddenly it happens.
For further reading:
The Genetics of Alcohol Metabolism: Role of Alcohol Dehydrogenase and Aldehyde Dehydrogenase Variants: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860432/
Human Epigenetics and Microbiome: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5583657/
Alcohol intake and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase polymorphism modify the relation of folate intake to plasma homocysteine https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/82/1/155/4863343