L

ast week we talked about how sulfites probably aren’t causing your headache – so what causes them?

The #1 reason people get headaches is due to dehydration; most people are chronically dehydrated, to begin with, and alcohol speeds up the process. The general rule of thumb is one adult beverage – one glass of water and always drink responsibly.

Some people, however, get headaches from wine after only a sip or two – what causes that?

These headaches are not caused by a hangover but intolerance to something in the wine. Recent research suggests that the culprits tend to be tannins, sugars, sorbates, prostaglandins, histamines, tyramine, and congeners.

If you naturally avoid tea, cinnamon, chocolate, coffee – you might be sensitive to tannins which are more prevalent in red wines than white.

Inexpensive wine typically has a LOT of sugar which binds to water leading to faster dehydration. To prevent refermentation Potassium Sorbates is added which can cause allergic reactions.

Prostaglandins are found in every cell of your body and in wine and cause hormone type reactions.

If you have allergies or hay fever – you are probably sensitive to histamines which are found in wine (primarily red wine) and cause stuffy noses and itchy eyes.

Tyramine is an amino acid that helps regulate blood pressure. A sensitivity to tyramine can cause migraine attacks, blurred vision, and nausea.

Congeners are a byproduct of fermentation and when combined with impurities can cause hangover type symptoms in about 3% of the population.

Recent research has demonstrated that most wine intolerances are caused by a deficit of enzymes in your body. If you don’t have enough of the enzyme diamine oxidase or histamine N-methyltransferase you will be sensitive to histamines. And if you don’t have enough of the enzyme phenol-sulfotransferase you will be sensitive to phenolic (color, taste, mouthfeel) compounds. The good news is that there are supplements that help correct these enzyme deficits.

TAKEAWAY: Drink responsibly, take a Claritin, and drink your water.

Cheers,