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Enjoy Drinking Alcohol Without The Toxic Hangovers With ZBiotics

Imagine waking up to a morning with clear thoughts and a body that’s ready to leap out of bed – even after a night that included a few glasses of your favorite Cabernet.

Sound impossible? Not anymore.

My curiosity always gets the best of me, especially when it involves the cutting edge of health technology. That’s why when I heard about today’s guest Zack Abbott‘s quest to conquer the after-effects of alcohol with something as simple as a probiotic, I knew I had to get the full story.

Picture this: A scientist working diligently in an HIV research lab, struck by a lightning bolt of inspiration. This isn’t the beginning of a sci-fi movie; it’s Zack’s real-life journey as a revolutionary thinker who saw potential where others only saw a dead end. Zack’s credentials are as impressive as his ambition – a PhD in Microbiology & Immunology, paired with hands-on experience in clinical trial design, has armed him with the expertise to turn visionary concepts into tangible solutions.

With the company that resulted from his aha! moment, ZBiotics, Zack is carving a new path in the health industry. Launching the world’s first genetically engineered probiotic is no small feat, and the implications are massive. Not only has he opened up a new way to diminish the dreaded hangover, but he’s also paving the road for a future where probiotics go beyond gut health, potentially transforming the approach to everyday wellness.

In this episode, Zack and I delve into the science of probiotics like never before. We’ll uncover the secrets behind genetically engineering these tiny allies to tackle acetaldehyde, explore the potential future applications of Zack’s technology, and maybe even touch on how a classical art & archaeology background pairs with modern genetic innovation. Prepare to look at your morning-after in a whole new light.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Zack Abbott…05:35

  • Ben enjoys an organic glass of wine every now and then
  • Endorses responsible consumption of alcohol
    • Even in small amounts, alcohol may cause some issues
  • Zack Abbott worked at a research lab; worked at engineering probiotic strains to help digest alcohol better
  • ZBiotics (use code BEN15 to save 15%)
  • Coming up with the name ZBiotics
  • Zack’s favorite cocktail is boulevardier or whiskey-soda

-Is alcohol going to kill you no matter what?…10:31

  • People swearing off alcohol completely
  • Alcohol replacement drinks that technically aren’t alcohol
  • For some people, an all-or-nothing solution is not sustainable
  • It’s important to drink responsibly
  • Is alcohol a hormetic stressor?
    • In some cultures known for longevity, alcohol, used in moderation, is an important part of the diet
  • Alcohol consumption is a behavior that goes along with a lot of healthy social interaction
  • Microdosing psilocybin instead of alcohol in social interaction

-What happens when you drink alcohol?…17:11

  • When you drink, you ingest the ethanol, and it goes into your stomach and your intestines
    • It is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream
    • It goes to the liver for detoxification
    • Ethanol gets converted into acetaldehyde, and then acetate
    • Acetaldehyde is then broken down into acetate
    • Acetate is essentially vinegar
  • It is acetaldehyde that is highly toxic, more toxic than ethanol, but it doesn’t get into the bloodstream from the liver
  • Some of the alcohol that goes into the gut is broken down by the microbiome
    • Not a significant amount of alcohol, but very important in terms of human health
    • That alcohol is converted into acetaldehyde, but then not into acetate like it is in the liver
  • The gut ends up being a major source of acetaldehyde in the body
    • Colonic acetaldehyde levels are 5 to 10 times higher than blood acetaldehyde levels
    • It gets absorbed out of the gut into the bloodstream, and then to the liver
  • Effects of ethanol:
    • Brain – intoxication effects and sleep problems
    • Hormone imbalances
    • Glucose insulin response
  • The more alcohol you drink, the more acid is forming in your gut and going to your bloodstream and liver
  • Other risk-creating elements in alcohol
    • High sugar
    • High-fructose corn syrup
  • People drinking caffeine and alcohol together
    • People are more likely to engage in risky behaviors with that combination
  • Red Bull vodka phenomenon in Europe

-The idea behind ZBiotics…24:43

  • Adjustments to the microbiome to better deal with acetaldehyde
  • The gut is a major source of acetaldehyde
  • The idea that we could deal with acetaldehyde in the gut is logical
  • Zach has a PhD in microbiology – studied bacterial gene regulation
  • Bacteria perform 3,000 biological functions, only some are useful for humans
  • Applying genetic engineering to ensure one additional function to the bacteria
    • They took some safe, edible probiotic bacteria
    • Engineered it to express an enzyme very similar to the one the liver uses to convert the acetaldehyde to acetate
  • The idea is to consume this probiotic before you drink alcohol

-The safety issues of genetic engineering…30:20

  • A lot of people are scared of GMOs mainly because of the way they have been used
  • There’s a big debate on the use of GMOs
  • Genetic engineering has no effect on safety 
    • It’s just a technology, a tool to make better products
    • A tool that can be used to make both safe or unsafe products
  • Misconceptions about what genetic engineering is
  • Life already alters its own DNA
  • The process of genetic engineering of the bacteria
  • Genetic engineering is just facilitating a natural activity
  • The process does not make the bacteria unsafe in any way
  • ZBiotics provide the bacteria that creates enough of a very common enzyme at the right time and in the right place

-The lack of liver enzyme and the use of antihistamines…35:27

  • The enzyme that the liver uses to convert the acetaldehyde into acetate is mutated in certain people
    • Mostly people with East Asian descent
  • Acetaldehyde Dehydrogenase – enzyme that the liver uses to convert acetaldehyde into acetate
  • Strategene – dirty genes testing
  • Histamine sensitivity:
    • Fermented foods like kombucha
    • Canned fish
    • Alcohol
  • Ben takes ZBiotics (use code BEN15 to save 15%) prior to taking alcohol, glutathione after
  • Ben is not a fan of activated charcoal use after alcohol consumption
  • The volume of activated charcoal pills is too small to have any effect

-DNA in ZBiotics’ probiotic strain…42:20

  • Getting the DNA – the art meets the science
  • Designing DNA suitable for bacteria to integrate into its biome
  • Reading and writing DNA
    • You can just order that strip of DNA to be made
  • Many companies are very good at synthesizing DNA
    • It’s like writing or composing
    • Sticking nucleic acids together in the appropriate sequence
  • How to know it’s safe?
    • The string of letters of DNA is the instructional code for the bacterial cell
    • The code itself does not have any effect on humans
  • Everything you eat has DNA
  • The question is what functions are affected?
  • Many tests for safety are performed
    • Looking at toxicity, allergenicity, pathogenicity
  • It can’t mutate you

– Do you need to load the gut with​ ZBiotic ​over time?…48:10

  • Akkermansia by Pendulum (code GREENFIELD saves 20% off your first month’s subscription)
  • Podcast with Colleen Cutcliffe:
  • Lactate digesting enzyme
  • Probiotics have to take up residence in our gut
    • That’s difficult because everybody’s microbiome is different
  • No FDA-approved drug that’s probiotic-based at the moment
  • Consistency is incredibly hard to gain
  • Most adults do not have lactobacillus in their gut, or at least not in significant numbers
    • The reason why it’s a probiotic is because it’s a leftover of the dairy industry
    • Not because it’s good for human health
  • The bacteria in ZBiotics is Bacillus subtilis (use code BEN15 to save 15%)
    • Is everywhere, and everyone has it
    • Passes fast through the gut
    • Doesn’t disrupt microbiome
    • Produces the enzyme and leaves the body
    • Doesn’t have to load up the gut with it
  • Antibiotics can’t disrupt it because it is not a resident of the gut
  • Zack’s PhD: How bacteria turns on and off different genes in different conditions
  • Engineered this strain of bacteria that was making a lot of acetaldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme
  • Many of the bacteria in your gut are also making it
    • Just not at the right time and in the right amount

-How to take ZBiotics?…54:15

  • It’s a liquid shot, and you take it just before you drink
    • Most beneficial when taken before drinking
  • Stacking a lot of responsible habits and behaviors together
  • When you drink, a lot of things happen in the body
  • The biggest problem is sleep
    • It’s ideal to go to bed sober
  • Alcohol induces a surge of GABA that wears off
  • High-carb meal before bed – you’ll go hyperglycemic
    • As blood sugar drops, you wake up in the middle of the night

-Are some types of alcohol cleaner than others?…58:34

  • Fermentation and distillation processes have many byproducts
  • Fermentation affects the flavor in ways that we enjoy a lot of the time, and sometimes don’t
  • Red wine has a lot of acetaldehyde
  • People have different reactions to them
  • The cleanliness of the alcohol in general
    • Clear or light-colored alcohols have fewer congeners than darker-colored alcohol
  • A lot of times, it’s a personal choice

-Electrolytes and hydrogenated water…1:01:15

  • When drinking alcohol, Ben does the following:
    1. Electrolytes / Minerals / Hydration
      • Because of the increased urination
    2. Hydrogen tablets
      • The anti-inflammatory effect that makes alcohol feel a little bit better
  • Oxidative stress is the body’s response to alcohol
  • Hydrogen gas, in large part produced by the microbiome, is one of the major ways that the body deals with oxidative stress
  • Increased urination is just due to the fact that you are increasing fluid intake
    • Biochemical markers of dehydration are not present
    • Things that make you dehydrated don’t feel like how alcohol makes you feel
  • But keeping your blood volume high with fluids is always valuable
  • A study in the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research
    • Compared beer consumption post-exercise with Gatorade consumption
    • Found that beer essentially hydrated you to the same extent as Gatorade with a similar post-exercise recovery boost
  • A lot of studies on rugby players in the 70s who were drinking alcohol after the game
  • The hypothesis that alcohol causes dehydration

-Plans for new products…1:06:24

  • Engineer bacteria to overlay a function that we know is valuable
  • Creating a probiotic that is very specific and tailored to people’s needs
  • When ZBiotics launched its first product in 2019, it was the world’s first-ever genetically engineered probiotic of any kind
  • Planning to build all kinds of products to do all sorts of things
  • The goal is to make products that basically help people deal with modern life
  • ZBiotics (use code BEN15 to save 15%)

-And much more…

  • Some Podcasts and Articles on alcohol and ketone cocktails:

Upcoming Events:

  • Elements of Vitality: December 8th, 2023

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Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

Zack Abbott:

– Podcasts And Articles:

– Other Resources:

Episode Sponsors:

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Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Zack Abbott or me? Leave your comments below, and one of us will reply!

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