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The Link Between Rice and Alcohol Flush Reaction in Asian People

By September 27, 2023October 2nd, 2023No Comments

Understanding the Connection Between Asian Glow and Rice Domestication

When it comes to enjoying a night out with friends, some individuals experience a phenomenon known as the “Asian glow” or “Asian flush.” This condition, scientifically referred to as alcohol flush reaction, is characterized by a redness of the skin, particularly on the face, neck, and chest, accompanied by headaches, nausea, and other unpleasant symptoms. But have you ever wondered why some people are more prone to this reaction than others? The answer might be rooted in a surprising source: rice domestication.

The Genetic Alterations

When most people drink alcohol, enzymes in the liver known as alcohol dehydrogenases (ADHs) convert alcohol to acetaldehyde. After that, another enzyme converts acetaldehyde to acetic acid, so that it’s no longer toxic. But about 50% of Asian people have mutations in these enzymes that leads to a rapid buildup of acetaldehyde, and that’s what causes the alcohol flush reaction. “In 2008, a team led by geneticist Kenneth Kidd of Yale University found that one of these mutations–known as ADH1B*47His–may have been favored by natural selection in many East Asian populations.

The Origins of Rice Domestication

A geneticist at the Kunming Institute of Zoology in China, Bing Su, decided to put together a team to understand why East Asian populations were selected for the mutation that cropped up between 7,000 to 10,000 years ago. Through their extensive research, they “…found that it was highly prevalent, up to 99%, in ethnic groups from southeast China; a bit less prevalent, 60% to 70%, in western China; and relatively uncommon, 14%, among Tibetans.” These dates and locations strongly align with archaeological evidence of the first rice cultivation, which “…suggests rice was first domesticated in south-eastern China between 12,000 and 8000 years ago, and then spread west.”

How does this information lead to a genetic mutation involving the breakdown of alcohol? Well, evidence from pottery remains ~9,000 years old containing traces of alcohol were found in the same region with high prevalence of the mutation. One theory surrounding this research suggests that the early rice cultivators in these regions started to ferment rice in order to preserve it. It may have also helped to break it down and release more nutrients. If true, the genetic mutation could have prevented alcoholism in these farmers by causing the facial flushing and extremely uncomfortable symptoms associated with alcohol flush reaction.

rice image

Introducing the Glowless Patch

While the research above can give us greater insight into how the mutation may have occurred, it doesn’t give us answers for how to prevent it from happening. There is no “cure” for alcohol flush reaction, but fortunately, there are solutions to help prevent the symptoms associated with it.  The Glowless patch offers a discreet and effective way to mitigate the symptoms. The patches work by delivering a proprietary formula that helps to break down acetaldehyde, allowing individuals to enjoy alcohol without the discomfort and embarrassment of the alcohol flush reaction.

Conclusion: Embracing Understanding

By diving into the intriguing connection between rice domestication and asian glow, we gain a deeper appreciation for the complexities of human genetics and our relationship with the foods we cultivate. The journey of the first rice farmers has left an indelible mark on our biology, reminding us of the profound influence agriculture has on our lives.