What is ALDH2?
Aldehyde dehydrogenase, also known as ALDH2 is an enzyme related to your body’s ability to metabolize alcohol and detox it from the body.
If you have ever experienced symptoms such as flushing of the face, sweating, or an increased heartbeat while drinking, you might be part of the population that suffers from ALDH2 deficiency.
The different effects of drinking impact various populations differently, with a significant percentage of the East Asian population showing the most signs of alcohol intolerance. Although a red face can be embarrassing and frustrating on a night out, it can also be a sign of a more serious condition.
What Causes a Hangover?
Regardless of the amount of alcohol you consume or how much water you sip in between drinks, your body can only metabolize a certain amount of alcohol each hour, which can lead to some nasty hangovers.
When you drink alcohol, it is absorbed into your bloodstream via the stomach and intestines, which is followed by a series of enzymes being produced in your body to break down the substance.
Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), help convert the alcohol into acetaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen.
Frequent encounters with acetaldehyde can result in a buildup of toxins and present serious health complications in the long run. In the short term, hangovers are the result of the body’s gradual process of breaking down toxins, leading many people to seek out hangover cures.
ALDH2 and Alcohol
Along with demonstrating a lowered tolerance for drinking, individuals with ALDH2 deficiency can also exhibit symptoms such as alcohol flush reaction. The physiological response can extend beyond just the face, causing the skin on the neck, stomach, back, and legs to turn red and splotchy.
When your body is physically unable to break down alcohol at a normal rate, it can lead to dangerous conditions and leaves individuals more susceptible to cancer and other serious issues. However, the unpleasant effects people with ALDH2 deficiency experience oftentimes leads the population to abstain from drinking, leading to lower rates of alcoholism.