September 19, 2019

Why Do I Get Headaches from Wine?


hi everyone I’m Jacky Blisson. Welcome
to my wine series. People are always asking me why white wine or why red wine
gives them headaches. They almost always have a theory about it and that theory
is often wrong! So I’m here to debunk a few myths and give you a couple facts to
help you avoid the dreaded wine headache! So let’s start with sulphites.
Sulphites are the number one reason given to me by most wine headache sufferers.
Sulphites are a natural byproduct of fermentation. Sulphur is also added to a
lot of wines after fermentation because it’s a very effective preservative
against oxidation and spoilage. It’s also added to many, many, many processed foods – think fruit juices, flavoured yogurts, seasonings, mustard… In fact, dried fruit
can contain five times the amount of sulphur legally allowed in wine. Health
professionals generally now agree that sulphites do not cause headaches. So what is causing your headaches? Well, there are a few culprits; the number one being
alcohol. Many types of headaches are caused by dehydration. Alcohol is a
diuretic, which basically means it makes you pee more. The loss of fluid causes
us to become dehydrated. Ugh…there’s a couple of very simple steps to help you
stop feeling like this the day after drinking wine. Number one: drink
moderately. Number two: choose lower alcohol wines. Number three: avoid sweeter wine styles (apparently the combination of alcohol
and sugar will dehydrate the body even faster). Number four: drink lots of water. I
tend to drink as much water as wine in a sitting. Number five:
never drink on an empty stomach. Eating and drinking will dilute the alcohol in
your system helping you process it better. Another possible cause of wine
headaches are histamines. Histamines are compounds found on grape skins. These
same chemicals are released by the body during an allergic reaction. Red wines
tend to have a higher concentration of histamines because they ferment on their
skins, unlike
white wines. So, if red wines make your head throb, histamines might be the
problem. Why is this? Because some people lack sufficient amounts of the enzyme in
the small intestine that breaks down histamines. Alcohol is also thought to
inhibit the action of this enzyme. Too much histamine in the blood can dilate
blood vessels and cause headaches. If you think that histamine might be your
problem, try taking a histamine blocker before a glass of wine.
Obviously this is not a good long-term solution!
Lastly, tannins. Tannins are also naturally occurring compounds, or plant
chemicals, found on the grapes’ skin, its stem and its seeds. It’s also, like
histamines, more present in red wine. Tannins have been found to release
serotonin into the brain. At low levels serotonin gives us a sense of well-being;
of satisfaction. At higher levels, it can cause headaches in some people. If
you get a sense that your headaches come more with this style of wine try
switching to white wines or lower tannin red wines like Pinot Noir, Gamay, or
Grenache. If you’re trying a new wine start with a small amount, wait 20
minutes or so to see if there’s an effect (if you’re getting a headache) and
if you’re not, continue with moderation. Thanks so much for joining me. If you
like this video, consider subscribing so you catch all of my weekly wine series.
Until next week, santé!

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