Red wine is a popular drink, but some people cannot consume it, even in small quantities, due to headaches. A recent study published in ‘Science Advances’ explains why this happens.
Researchers at the University of California at Davis (USA) found that a flavanol called quercetin, which is naturally present in red wines and fruits and vegetables, can interfere with the proper metabolism of alcohol and cause headaches. When metabolized with alcohol, quercetin glucuronide is formed, which blocks the metabolism of alcohol and leads to the buildup of acetaldehyde toxin. This toxin causes redness, headache, and nausea.
Acetaldehyde is a well-known irritant and inflammatory substance that can be harmful if it builds up in the body. Some people are more susceptible to these symptoms than others because they have an enzyme that doesn’t work very well or they consume other medications that can inhibit the breakdown of acetaldehyde.
The levels of quercetin can vary dramatically in red wine, depending on factors such as skin contact during fermentation, fining processes, and aging. Researchers plan to conduct a clinical trial with red wines containing high levels of quercetin and low levels of this compound to test their theory about red wine headaches in people. While there are still many unknowns about the causes of red wine headaches, this study provides important insights into why some people may experience headaches when consuming this popular drink.