Some individuals are unable to consume red wine, even in small quantities, due to the onset of headaches. A recent study published in ‘Science Advances’ has shed light on why this may be the case.
A team of researchers from the University of California at Davis (USA) have identified a flavanol found in red wine, quercetin, as the culprit behind these headaches. Quercetin is a compound that naturally occurs in all types of fruits and vegetables, including grapes. It is considered a healthy antioxidant and is often consumed as a supplement. However, when metabolized with alcohol, it can cause issues.
When quercetin reaches the bloodstream after being consumed with alcohol, it is converted into quercetin glucuronide by the body. This conversion blocks the metabolism of alcohol, causing acetaldehyde to build up in the system. Acetaldehyde is a known irritant and inflammatory substance that can cause symptoms such as facial redness, headache, and nausea.
It is important to note that not all people are equally susceptible to these symptoms. The enzymes responsible for breaking down acetaldehyde vary between individuals and populations. In some cases, genetic factors can lead to reduced activity of these enzymes, allowing acetaldehyde to build up more easily and causing symptoms such as those seen with red wine consumption. Additionally, certain environmental factors such as smoking or exposure to pollutants can also affect enzyme function and exacerbate these symptoms.
The researchers plan to conduct further clinical trials with red wines containing varying levels of quercetin to test their theory about red wine headaches in people who experience them regularly. They hope that this research will provide valuable insights into why some individuals are more susceptible than others and help identify potential treatments for those affected by these symptoms.
Overall, this study highlights an interesting connection between a compound found in red wine and its potential impact on human health. It serves as a reminder that individual differences in genetics and environmental factors can play a significant role in how our bodies respond to certain substances like alcohol or flavanols found in food products like red wine.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that this study only focused on one type of flavanol found in red wines called quercetin but other compounds present in red wines such as resveratrol could also have similar effects on human health.