The reason why red wine causes headaches for some people

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 7 months ago

A recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that red wine may be the culprit behind those brutal headaches some people experience after drinking. The study reveals that red wine contains quercetin, a flavanol found naturally in grapes, which may impair the body's ability to metabolize alcohol and lead to the accumulation of a toxin called acetaldehyde. This build-up of acetaldehyde can trigger symptoms such as nausea, flushing, and headaches.

The study also highlights the variability in the amount of quercetin found in different types of red wines, and it remains unclear why only certain individuals are affected by these headaches. Quercetin is a healthy antioxidant, but when consumed with alcohol, it can cause issues. When quercetin is converted into a liver metabolite called quercetin glucuronide, it may increase levels of acetaldehyde in the body, which is irritating and inflammatory.

Previous research has suggested that other compounds in wine, such as sulphites, phenolic flavonoids, or tannins, may be responsible for wine headaches. However, this study suggests that quercetin may be the primary cause, especially in red wines.

The study also raises the question of who is most prone to red wine headaches and how to avoid them. It is unclear why some individuals are more susceptible, but factors such as sensitivity to acetaldehyde or differences in quercetin metabolism may play a role. The levels of flavanol in red wines vary significantly depending on factors such as grape cultivation methods and aging processes.

While future studies are needed to identify those at risk and develop solutions, some suggestions include experimenting with different types of red wines, opting for lower-alcohol varieties, and even trying white wines that contain smaller amounts of quercetin.

In conclusion, red wine headaches remain a mystery to some extent, but this study sheds light on the potential role of quercetin. Understanding the factors behind these headaches and finding ways to prevent them may improve the wine-drinking experience for many individuals.


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