Commonly known as Asian Glow or Alcohol Flush Reaction, ALDH2 Deficiency is a genetic mutation found in about 40% of people of East Asian descent. Passed through generations from parents to children, this genetic mutation results in a deficiency of the ALDH2 enzyme. ALDH2 enzymes help the liver break down toxic compounds such as acetaldehyde. People with ALDH2 Deficiency are unable to break down acetaldehyde efficiently which results in a buildup of the toxin in the body. Over the long term, this buildup greatly increases the risk of developing serious health problems including esophageal and gastrointestinal cancers, liver cirrhosis, Alzheimer’s, and osteoporosis.
How can we tell if we have ALDH2 Deficiency? Many of us find out when we drink alcohol and experience the uncomfortable effects of Alcohol Flush Reaction. Symptoms include red flushing of the face, rapid heart rate, headaches, nausea and increased temperature. While these symptoms may be indicators of ALDH2 Deficiency, some drinkers only experience the flushing when consuming certain types of alcohol. In these cases, they may be having an allergic reaction to certain ingredients such as sulfates or grains. Taking an ALDH2 gene test helps to identify whether a person has ALDH2 Deficiency versus an allergy to a specific ingredient in alcohol.
Even if we are pretty certain we have ALDH2 Deficiency due to our Alcohol Flush Reaction, it may still be a good idea to get tested. A simple ALDH2 gene test can tell us whether we have the single mutation or double mutation version of the deficiency. About 10 percent of the ALDH2 Deficient population have a double mutation. Those of us with the double mutation are even more vulnerable to the effects of acetaldehyde accumulation. Our Alcohol Flush Reaction symptoms are more severe and our long-term health risks from acetaldehyde exposure are higher as well. Interestingly, ALDH2 Deficiency is a dominant gene mutation. For those of us with the double mutation, our offspring will automatically have ALDH2 Deficiency even if the other parent does not have it.
There are quite a few consumer health genetics tests on the market, with the comprehensive ones being somewhat pricey. One of these companies is Orig3n, a biotech company in Boston that has developed an affordable, simpler gene test specifically for ALDH2 Deficiency. The ALDH2 gene test can be ordered online at Orig3n.com for only $29. Use the promo code DELTA10 to receive a 10% discount on the Orig3n ALDH2 gene test or any other genetic tests at time of purchase. you can find the test here: ALDH2 Deficiency Test.
When you receive the at-home test kit, follow the instructions and use the swab provided to take a sample from inside each cheek. The sample is then sealed and returned in the prepaid envelope to be analyzed by Orig3n.What are some things we can do to protect ourselves from the health risks associated with ALDH2 Deficiency? One is to limit our consumption of alcohol, where acetaldehyde is found in highest concentration. It is difficult to completely avoid acetaldehyde however. Acetaldehyde is pervasive in our modern environment and is found in air pollution (indoor and outdoor), cigarette smoke, and high sugar foods, coffee, and tea. We can try and limit our exposure to these sources, but it’s impossible to avoid them altogether. There are positive benefits from taking a health supplement such as Essential AD2 which can help improve our liver function and alleviate acetaldehyde accumulation. Taken daily, Essential AD2 helps to restore the natural activity of the ALDH2 enzyme and clear acetaldehyde from the body more quickly. Understanding our genetic make up, minimizing our exposure to toxins in the environment, and taking supplements such as clinically-proven Essential AD2 are three helpful ways to take our healthy living to the next level.