Researchers from the University of California at Davis (USA) have discovered a new reason why some people cannot drink red wine, even in small quantities. The study, published in ‘Science Advances’, has identified quercetin, a flavanol found naturally in red wines, as the culprit behind headaches caused by alcohol consumption.
Quercetin is present in all types of fruits and vegetables, including grapes, and is considered a healthy antioxidant that is consumed as a supplement. However, when metabolized with alcohol, it can cause problems. The body converts quercetin into quercetin glucuronide when it reaches the bloodstream. This form of quercetin blocks the metabolism of alcohol and leads to the buildup of acetaldehyde toxin in the body. Acetaldehyde is a well-known irritant and inflammatory substance that causes redness, headache, and nausea.
The study suggests that susceptible people who consume wine with even modest amounts of quercetin may develop headaches, particularly if they have preexisting migraine or other primary headache conditions. The next step for researchers is to test this theory scientifically in people who develop these headaches by conducting clinical trials with red wines containing different levels of quercetin.
It’s important to note that while some people are unable to drink red wine due to its effects on their bodies, others can consume it without any problems at all. Furthermore, the levels of quercetin can vary greatly in different types of red wine depending on factors such as grape variety, region where grapes are grown, winemaking methods used and aging process. Therefore further research is needed to fully understand how this compound affects our bodies and how it varies across different types of red wine.