Are Koreans allergic to alcohol

Do you know? Asians do not tolerate alcohol!

Do you know that too? A friend with Asian roots turns red after just one or two glasses of beer or wine and complains that he is getting sick. Can we generalize from this that Asians do not tolerate alcohol? And if so, why is it?

In short, it can be said that about every second Northeast Asian - for example Japanese, Chinese or Koreans - alcohol is poorly tolerated. The reason lies in the genes: Many Asians from this region lack or lack a certain enzyme that helps break down alcohol. It bears the unpronounceable name "acetaldehyde dehydrogenase", in short: ALDH.

Alcohol degradation takes place in two steps. Step 1: The enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase breaks down alcohol into the very toxic acetaldehyde. In step 2, the ALDH converts the acetaldehyde into non-toxic acetic acid, which is then further broken down into water and carbon dioxide. It is important that steps 1 and 2 similarly fast respectively. If a person lacks the ALDH enzyme or if it does not work properly, the first step "overtakes" the second step. The unpleasant result: the toxic acetaldehyde accumulates in the body.

In some Asians, the ALDH enzyme no longer works, in others it works with the handbrake on. Depending on the form, those affected do not tolerate alcohol at all or only slightly worse than people whose enzymes are not changed.

If people drink alcohol without ALDH, they usually get a red head, in English as "Flush" designated. The acetaldehyde signals the blood vessels to relax - more blood flows into the veins and the affected person blushes. Another effect that many find even more uncomfortable is nausea.

People who lack ALDH, with wise foresight, drink little or no alcohol at all. Others, on the other hand, accept the side effects because they do not want to forego the intoxicating effects of alcohol or its social components. Some of those affected get drunk more quickly because they break down alcohol more slowly and reach higher blood concentrations (per mille).

Positive side effect of enzyme deficiency: Alcohol is almost never an issue in those affected!