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Our affinity for alcohol is not new; in fact, we developed it ten million years ago, even before we evolved into humans! The natural source of alcohol is fruits, with usually less than 1% of ethanol in ripe fruits and up to 8% in overripe fruits. The presence of alcohol was beneficial both for our primate ancestors as well as the plants that bore the fruits. The strong smell of alcohol traveled far and wide, attracting primates. This helped primates reach food sources while they helped the plants by dispersing the seeds. Alcohol was considered highly beneficial when fruits were its major source. In the present time, where alcoholic drinks are available in large quantities and are consumed in higher concentrations, they tend to do more harm than good.

Alcohol flush reaction: What is it?

The consumption of alcohol in some individuals causes blotches of erythema on their face and neck region, and sometimes on the entire body. Such an event is called an alcohol flush reaction.

Most of the time, it happens as a result of improper digestion of alcohol.

Accumulation of acetaldehyde in the body after alcohol consumption leads to this reaction.

When you consume alcohol, it gets metabolized to its byproduct acetaldehyde.

In typical cases, acetaldehyde gets metabolized further.

An enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase, coded by the gene ALDH2, is responsible for this metabolism.

However, some individuals have a defective gene that prevents the further metabolism of acetaldehyde.

This causes its accumulation in the body resulting in an alcohol flush reaction.

More about the enzyme

There are two types of enzymes responsible for the breakdown of alcohol: alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase. Acetate is synthesized with the help of aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH), mostly by ALDH2, a mitochondrial enzyme, but also by ALDH1, the cytosolic enzyme. 

There are five different types of ADH enzymes based on structural similarity and kinetic properties. 

Class I enzymes: The class I enzymes are coded by the ADH1A, ADH1B, and ADH1C genes, which are associated with about 70% of the total ethanol oxidizing capacity.

II: The class II enzymes are coded by the ADH4 gene, which is associated with about 30% ethanol oxidizing capacity. 

III: The class III enzymes are coded by the ADH5 gene and is the only class of enzyme that is detected in the brain. 

IV: The class IV enzymes are coded by the ADH7 gene and are found mainly in the upper digestive tract, where it oxidizes ethanol at high concentrations. 

V: The class V enzymes coded ADH6 gene are found in a variety of substrates, including retinol but are less efficient in ethanol metabolism.

Who is more prone to alcohol flush?

People of Asian descent, especially the East Asian descent, are more susceptible to have an alcohol flush reaction.

In fact, this red face phenomenon is also called the "Asian flush or "Asian glow."

According to some studies, over 70% of East Asians have genetic polymorphisms in either ADH or ALDH2, leading to intense flushing with ethanol consumption.

What happens during an alcohol flush reaction?

Other than the primary flushing red face, the other symptoms include:

Is the reaction dangerous?

While the flushing by itself may not to be dangerous, the reaction may have other health-related implications.

A 2013 study reported that people who experience an alcohol flush reaction on drinking might have a higher chance of developing hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Another study done on East Asian men in 2017 found an association between high risk of cancer, especially esophageal cancer, and flushing reaction.

This can be due to the high levels of acetaldehyde, which can trigger the growth of cancer cells.

How's it diagnosed?

When you report with suspected alcohol flush reaction, your doctor may first perform a physical examination. Other confirmatory tests also help with the diagnosis.

Skin test 

It detects your allergy, if any, to a substance in alcoholic beverages such as grains like maize, rye, and wheat. 

A little amount of the substance is injected into your skin, and the reaction is studied. If the skin appears red and raised, you are noted positive for the test.

Blood test

A blood test is done to detect the presence of antibodies like IgE that are found in the blood when there is an allergic reaction to a substance in alcohol.

Enzyme test

Measuring the amount of alcohol metabolizing enzymes, alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase, can predict the intensity of reaction that one may experience.

Genetic test

The gene responsible for acetaldehyde metabolism in the body is ALDH2 that produces the enzyme ALDH2 or Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 2. 

Individuals who suffer from an alcohol flush reaction may have a faulty or deficient ALDH2 gene, and this can be identified using genetic testing.

Treating alcohol flush reaction

There is no definitive treatment for the root cause of this reaction, ALDH2 deficiency.

However, there are options when it comes to managing the symptoms.

  1. Antihistamines or histamine blockers can help control facial flushing.
  2. Another treatment, brimonidine, approved by the FDA for treating rosacea (a skin condition that causes redness in your face), can be effective for managing the flushing as well.
  3. Some laser-based therapies are also helpful to control the redness in the face.

Alcohol flush prevention

The only foolproof way to prevent this reaction is to avoid or limit your alcohol intake.

A lot of people tend to use OTC antihistamines to manage the reaction, but this is strongly not advisable.

The first and foremost step is to recognize your risk for this condition by studying your ALDH2 gene variants.

Check your 23andMe raw data or your Ancestry DNA raw data to find out the variant you carry

Genotype
Phenotype
TT[Limitation] More likely to show signs of alcohol flush on alcohol consumption
TCModerate risk of alcohol flush on alcohol consumption
CC[Advantage] Less likely to show signs of alcohol flush on alcohol consumption

According to the variant you carry, you might need to limit or discontinue alcohol consumption.

Other unwanted reactions to alcohol consumption addressed

Why do I bleed after a night of drinking?

Alcohol irritates the gastric lining.

When you drink alcohol, even a small quantity of it, it causes your stomach to produce acid.

Consumption of excess alcohol leads to increased production of stomach acid, which can lead to gastritis.

In many cases, due to excess alcohol, it triggers pain in the stomach, causes diarrhea, vomiting, and even bleeding.

Why do my ears burn when I drink alcohol?

Alcohol affects almost all parts of our body.

Consumption of excess alcohol affects the part of the brain that controls hearing.

In fact, alcohol consumption affects ears and hearing in more than one way.

When we drink alcohol, it also gets absorbed in the fluid of our ears and causes a burning sensation.

Does alcohol cause hot flashes?

Alcohol causes hot flashes in women, especially those going through menopause.

Does alcohol increase body temperature?

Having even a few sips of alcohol can make you feel warmer.

This is because alcohol makes the blood vessels underneath your skin dilate and increases the blood flow in them, which can induce the 'warm feeling.'

But in reality, alcohol reduces your core temperature.

What are some steps to reduce alcohol consumption?

Reducing alcohol consumption can immensely improve your health. Here is a list of a few things you can do to help you reduce drinking:

  1. Keep track of your drinking habits, and change them if warranted
  2. Drink slowly and hydrate yourself with water between drinks
  3. Switch to low alcohol alternatives
  4. Avoid salty snacks such as peanuts, as they make you more thirsty leading you to consume more alcohol
  5. Space out your drinks along with lots of food
  6. Watch out for peer-pressure and avoid any triggers
  7. Don't be shy to reach out for support

Do you have your DNA raw data from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, FTDNA, LivingDNA, etc.?

Upload the file to Xcode Life to get insights into 700+health-related traits!

Updated 05 May 2020

The Methyl Tetra Hydrofolate Reductase gene (MTHFR) is associated with the synthesis of the MTHFR enzyme, which converts folate obtained from the diet into an active form. The active folate is involved in the re-methylation of homocysteine to methionine. MTHFR gene variations determine how the body utilizes folate from the diet. People with the T variant of the gene are associated with lower levels of MTHFR enzyme which increases the risk for folate deficiency when there is a low intake of folate in the diet.

Association with Vitamin B9/Folate Needs:

In a study conducted on people with major depressive disorder, people with the T variant with low folate intake were shown to be associated with an increased risk of elevated plasma homocysteine levels. Elevated levels of homocysteine are found to be associated with an increased risk for depression, bipolar disorder, neural tube defects, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia. Homocysteinemia is also associated with increased oxidative stress and DNA damage, triggering apoptosis and excitotoxicity.

Association with Neural Tube Defects:

In a meta-analysis, taking into account 50 research studies on the influence of MTHFR gene on neural tube defects, the presence of maternal T variant of the gene was associated with increased risk for neural tube defects among newborns.

Association with Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease:

People with the T variant of the gene are associated with increased risk for hypertension by 24-87% and CVD by 40%. Intake of sufficient amount of riboflavin lowered blood pressure among people with the T variant of the gene.

Association with Male Infertility:

In a study conducted on the South Asian population, men with the T variant were significantly associated with male infertility.

Association with Breast cancer:

In a meta-analysis with nearly 74,000 participants, people with the T variant of the gene were shown to be associated with an increased risk for breast cancer.

Association with Rheumatoid Arthritis:

People with the T variant of the gene were shown to be associated with higher plasma homocysteine levels with an increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis. A similar study also showed an association between the T variant of the gene and an increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis.

Does your 23andme, Ancestry DNA, FTDNA raw data have MTHFR gene variant information?

CHIP VersionMTHFR SNPs
23andMe (Use your 23andme raw data to know your MTHFR Variant)
v1 23andmePresent
v2 23andmePresent
v3 23andmePresent
v4 23andmePresent
V5 23andme (current chip)Present
AncestryDNA  (Use your ancestry DNA raw data to know your MTHFR Variant)
v1 ancestry DNAPresent
V2 ancestry DNA (current chip)Present
Family Tree DNA  (Use your FTDNA raw data to know your MTHFR Variant)
OmniExpress microarray chipPresent

Association with ADHD:

In a study conducted on the Eastern Indian population, people with the T variant of the gene were shown to be associated with vitamin B12 deficiency and hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

Personalized Medicine for People with Rheumatoid Arthritis:

People with the T variant of the gene were associated with non-response to methotrexate in the treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

Genotype rs1801133PhenotypeRecommendation
TT[Limitation] More likely to have lower MTHFR enzyme activity [Limitation] More likely to have hyperhomocysteinemia [Limitation] More likely to deliver babies with Neural tube Defects (Women) [Limitation] More Likely to have higher blood pressure and increased risk for cardiovascular disease [Limitation] More Likely to have rheumatoid arthritis [Limitation] More Likely to have ADHD [Limitation] More likely to be infertile (Male) [Limitation] Less likely to respond to Methotrexate (for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis)Include at least 400 mcg of folate in the diet every day Folate-rich foods include romano beans, white beans, lentils, asparagus, okra, green leafy vegetables Include sufficient riboflavin in the diet to lower risk for hypertension. Riboflavin-rich foods include Mushroom, spinach, lamb, milk and natural yogurt
CTModerate level of MTHFR enzymeInclude recommended daily intake (RDI) of folate and riboflavin in the diet.
CT[Advantage] More likely to have higher MTHFR enzyme [Advantage] Less likely to have hyperhomocysteinemia [Advantage] Less likely to deliver babies with Neural tube Defects (Women) [Advantage] Less Likely to have higher blood pressure and increased risk for cardiovascular disease [Advantage] Less Likely to have rheumatoid arthritis [Advantage] Less Likely to have ADHD [Advantage] Less likely to be infertile (Male) [Advantage] More likely to respond to Methotrexate (for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis)Include recommended daily intake (RDI) of folate and riboflavin in the diet.


References
:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25005003
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27720779
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27824246
  4. http://genecelltissue.com/?page=article&article_id=28421
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28215593
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28250422

Related Links:

  1. https://www.xcode.life/dna-and-health/cardiovascular-disease-and-mthfr-gene
  2. https://www.xcode.life/product/mthfr-gene
  3. https://www.xcode.life/dna-and-health/genes-and-greens-to-protect-your-heart

Nutrigenetics, fitness genetics, health genetics are all nascent but rapidly growing areas within human genetics. The information provided herein is based on preliminary scientific studies and it is to be read and understood in that context.”

The Insulin signaling protein type 2 gene (INSIG2) is associated with the synthesis of INSIG2 protein which interacts with transcription factors, activating the synthesis of cholesterol and fatty acids.  The variants of the INSIG2 gene have been shown to be associated with body fat accumulation. Specific alleles of this gene are known to either increase or decrease INSIG2 protein levels which are associated with subcutaneous fat accumulation upon exercising.  

Does your 23andme, Ancestry DNA, FTDNA raw data have INSIG2 gene variant information?

CHIP VersionINSIG2 SNPs
23andMe (Use your 23andme raw data to know your INSIG2 Variant)
v1 23andmePresent
v2 23andmePresent
v3 23andmePresent
v4 23andmePresent
V5 23andme (current chip)Present
AncestryDNA  (Use your ancestry DNA raw data to know your INSIG2 Variant)
v1 ancestry DNAPresent
V2 ancestry DNA (current chip)Present
Family Tree DNA  (Use your FTDNA raw data to know your INSIG2 Variant)
OmniExpress microarray chipPresent

Association with Baseline Subcutaneous fat and Obesity:

In the Framingham Heart Study, people with the C variant of the gene were shown to be associated with obesity, measured in terms of BMI. In a recent similar study conducted on a North Indian population, there was a significant association between INSIG2 gene polymorphism and severe obesity. In another study that analyzed the level of subcutaneous fat, women with the C variant of the gene were shown to be associated with higher levels of baseline subcutaneous fat.

Association with Fat Gain/Loss upon Strength Training:

Men with the C variant of the gene were associated with higher gain in subcutaneous fat upon resistance training while men with the G variant showed a loss in subcutaneous fat. In another study, men with the G variant of the allele were shown to be associated with Intramuscular (IMAT) volume in the upper arm after 12 weeks of training than for the subcutaneous fat. In a study on obese children who were on a weight loss program, children with the C variant of the gene were found to lose less weight than children with the G variant.

Association with Hypercholesterolemia: 

In a study conducted on Japanese women, the C variant of the gene was shown to have a protective effect on the progression of hypercholesterolemia when on a high fat diet. On an initial analysis in another study, women with the C variant of the gene showed a lower prevalence for hypercholesterolemia.

GenotypePhenotypeRecommendation
CC[Limitation] More likely to have higher BMI [Limitation] More likely to have higher subcutaneous fat upon resistance training [Advantage] Less likely to have hypercholesterolemia (Women)Likely increase in subcutaneous fat upon strength training Including fitness programs, other than strength training might be more beneficial Additional effort may be required to lose weight when compared to people with the G variant
CGModerate BMI and subcutaneous fat accumulation upon exercisingLikely increase in subcutaneous fat upon strength training Including fitness programs, other than strength training might be more beneficial Additional effort may be required to lose weight when compared to people with the G variant
GG[Advantage] More likely to have lower BMI [Advantage] More likely to have lower subcutaneous fat upon exercising [Limitation] More Likely to have hypercholesterolemia(women)Likely lower subcutaneous fat upon exercising Strength training has not been shown to be associated with increase in subcutaneous fat upon exercising. There is an increase in Intramuscular volume on training, which may benefit bodybuilders

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2646703/
  2. https://www.pathway.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Pathway-Fit-MD_Watermarked_rs.pdf
  3. http://www.genesnp.com/
  4. http://www.wellnessgene.com/images/PDF/WellnessGeneSample-Test.pdf
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28160769
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23941145
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2646703/
  8. http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/57/3/623.long
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18570692
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2958931/

Nutrigenetics, fitness genetics, health genetics are all nascent but rapidly growing areas within human genetics. The information provided herein is based on preliminary scientific studies and it is to be read and understood in that context.”

I am your heart. I work really hard to keep you alive. Every minute I pump out 5 litres of oxygen rich blood to every cell in your body so you can think, move, speak, work and live. In return all I ask is that you keep me healthy. Not many people around the world do that. In fact approximately 17.3 million people die every year because heart disease. By 2020, it will be the leading cause of death around the world.

So let’s have a conversation. Heart to heart. Here are 7 natural ways you can prevent a heart attack.

 

1. Eat Healthy

Look towards healthy foods that help lower cholesterol. Eat vegetables and fish that have lots of good fats. Don’t eat as much red meat, choose lean meats instead. Eat a serving of nuts (walnuts, almonds etc.) every day. Drink less of carbonated beverages and drink natural fruit juices without added sugar. Get 4-5 servings of fresh vegetables. Feeling like having a snack? Skip the chips and salty foods and munch on some fresh carrots instead. Search and build your own book of healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Trust me, your heart will thank you for it.

2. Exercise

With more of us having less active jobs than ever before, a lack of exercise is a big risk factor for heart disease. On the bright side, it also means that exercising regularly in addition to eating healthy is one of the fastest ways to reduce your risk! Research shows that getting just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week can significantly reduce the risk of a heart attack. Can’t spare 30 minutes at a stretch? Sneak in three 10 minute sessions of brisk walking or exercise whenever you get a break.

3. Get adequate rest

We’re living in a 24X7 world. The computers and mobile devices that allow us to connect to the internet and each other whenever we want have also taken away proper sleep habits. We sacrifice sleep for work and for leisure without realizing the effect that it has on our body. Scientific studies have shown that people who get less than 6 hours of sleep a night have a higher chance of getting high blood pressure and high cholesterol both of which contribute to heart disease. So put down that phone, turn off the TV and get some sleep.

4. Quit smoking

Smoking can double the risk of you having a heart attack. Smoking damages the blood vessels and increases the risk of them being blocked leading to higher chances of a heart attack. Women who take birth control pills and smoke are particularly at a higher risk to develop heart disease. Even smoking for a brief period of time damages the heart. Nicotine in cigarettes or chewing tobacco reduces the oxygen supply to the heart and increases blood pressure. So if you smoke, make a healthy start and quit today.

5. Drink alcohol in strict moderation

If you drink alcohol, be sure to strictly control how much you drink. Drinking alcohol excessively has been shown to increase the risk for hypertension, obesity and heart disease. Alcohol intake above moderate levels also increases cholesterol levels leading to formation of plaques and blood vessel blockage.

6. Practice Yoga and Meditation

Among other benefits, yoga and meditation have been shown to significantly reduce stress and have positive effects on mind and body. Yoga comprises of physical exercises as well as training to control the breath. In combination with meditation, yoga can improves many physiological functions and be extremely effective as a preventive mechanism for heart attacks.

7. Know your numbers and your risk factors

Lastly, always be aware of your health status. According to Barry A Franklin PhD Director of Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation at William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan USA and an American Heart Association Volunteer “Regular cardiovascular screening is important because it helps you detect risk factors in their earliest stages”. See your physician regularly and get your cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked. Your genes can play a role in whether you are more likely to get heart disease. Know your family history and whether that puts you at an increased risk. In addition, an advanced program like Xcode’s Lifelong Wellness can analyze your genes for health risks and metabolic traits and give you a personalized nutrition and fitness plan that will put you on the on the path to a healthier lifestyle.

 

 

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