Red wine headaches are a common problem for some individuals, even in small quantities. A new study published in ‘Science Advances’ has finally shed light on why this occurs.
A team from the University of California at Davis (USA) found that a flavanol, a compound naturally present in red wines, is responsible for interfering with the proper metabolism of alcohol and causing headaches. Specifically, this flavanol is called quercetin and can be found in all types of fruits and vegetables, including grapes.
When quercetin is metabolized with alcohol, it can cause the buildup of acetaldehyde toxin, which leads to redness, headache, and nausea. This is because acetaldehyde is a toxin and an irritant that causes inflammation in the body. High levels of acetaldehyde have been linked to various health problems such as facial redness, headache and nausea.
Researchers believe that when susceptible individuals consume wine with even modest amounts of quercetin, they develop headaches. This is particularly true for those who have a preexisting migraine or other primary headache condition. The study suggests that quercetin may be inhibiting the enzymes responsible for breaking down alcohol in these individuals’ bodies, leading to the buildup of acetaldehyde toxin.
It’s important to note that levels of quercetin can vary dramatically in red wine depending on factors such as skin contact during fermentation, fining processes, and aging. Therefore, further research will be needed to determine how different levels of quercetin affect the risk of developing red wine headaches. The next step is to test this theory scientifically by conducting clinical trials with red wines that contain high levels and low levels of quercetin respectively.