Almost all of us have read or heard about how wine can have numerous health benefits when it is consumed moderately. The main one is that it can help give us a “healthy heart”. For example, studies have shown that red wine can increase the high-density lipoprotein (HDL, also known as “good cholesterol”) levels and provide us with significant cardio-protection. Furthermore, red wine consumption has been reported to stimulate our glucose metabolism due to some of its unique components. Other reported benefits of wine include anti-aging properties; improvement of bone health; improvement of brain health; and prevention of cataracts.
But for some people, wine has a big disadvantage. It causes headaches. It is probably safe to say that we’ve all experienced a wine headache at some point in our lives. You may have noticed that as you have aged, the negative reactions to drinking wine have begun to worsen. It’s no secret why that happens. The culprit behind your wine headaches is none other than the histamines in wine that are naturally formed during the fermentation process.
Histamine is one of 12 biogenic amines that are necessary for the proper function of your immune system, proper digestion, and central nervous system. It serves as an alarm that notifies your body when it’s under attack by different pathogens. It communicates important messages from your body to your brain, and it helps break down food in your stomach, as it is one of the components of stomach acid.
While histamine plays an important role in maintaining our health, if it begins to build up throughout your body, it can cause the development of histamine intolerance, or HIT for short. HIT has many unpleasant symptoms, from headaches to stuffy nose to arrhythmia, which can influence our daily lives. For this reason, it is important to keep histamine levels in the body under control.
Histamine intolerance doesn’t mean that someone is hypersensitive to histamine. We get that this can be confusing. Histamine intolerance is simply an indication that there is a higher concentration of histamine circulating through your body than it can routinely handle. In other words, your “histamine bucket” has been filled up and the result is the onset of allergy-like side effects from the high histamine concentrations.
A histamine bucket is, obviously, a metaphorical bucket that can help us better understand how histamine can accumulate in our bodies and affect our overall wellbeing. So, let’s say you have a bucket that fills little by little with every bit of histamine that enters your body. For a person who has a relatively large histamine bucket, it takes a greater amount of histamine consumption before the bucket will become full. While other people who have a relatively small histamine bucket will fill more rapidly. This is because the size of our histamine bucket is determined by a lot of factors, including age, gender, ethnicity, overall health, and genetics.
We all have a so-called histamine bucket, and during the day, we come across various foods and environmental factors that can fill our buckets. One of the main sources of histamine, especially during the spring and summertime, is the pollen that can be found all around us. If you suffer from hay fever, you know how annoying it is when your bucket is full. Other factors include certain medications, stress levels, the weather, caffeine, lengthy exposure to UV rays, smoke, certain foods like aged meats and dried fruits, and, unfortunately, red wine as well. Depending on these factors, your buckets can fill faster or slower from day-to-day.
Once our buckets are filled, they start to overflow, and this is when we start feeling the unpleasant reactions of histamine intolerance, such as headaches, fatigue, nasal congestion, and nausea. In more extreme cases, some might even experience abdominal cramping and an irregular heart rate. This doesn’t sound pleasant, does it?
For many people, these symptoms can be triggered by drinking red wine. Some people have noticed that after drinking a couple of glasses of a full-bodied red wine, they start feeling stuffy, flushed, and get headaches. You might be surprised to know how common this is. According to a study conducted in 2015, 72% of wine drinkers have reactions to histamines and sulfite preservatives found in wines. Of this percentage, 69% of the drinkers mentioned having headaches; 43% of them mentioned getting hangovers or feeling bad the morning after drinking; 29% noticed having flushed skin; 22% said that they had a stuffy nose; and 3% of the wine drinkers even mentioned having breathing problems.
Age is one of the main factors that influence our histamine buckets. As we get older, they tend to get smaller. Sometimes, this is caused by medications, such as antibiotics, antidepressants, antiarrhythmics, and antihypertensives, which can reduce one’s histamine tolerance. Since our buckets are smaller, it doesn’t take as much histamine to cause a reaction. Therefore, the habits we used to have when we were younger might now cause symptoms of histamine intolerance. You may have noticed that the glass of red wine that you used to have with dinner now triggers headaches, stuffy nose, and skin flushing.
You will be pleased to know that you don’t have to say goodbye to your favorite wine in order to avoid all these unpleasant consequences. PureWine has developed a family of wine purifiers that remove the histamines and sulfites out of wine before consumption (The Wand, The Wave, and The Phoenix). These products also enhance the natural flavors of the wine by aerating it as you pour a glass. So it’s a double win. You get a tasty, purified glass of wine, and you don’t even have to think about decanting. While PureWIne’s products can’t remove the other environmental and dietary sources of histamine that fill your buckets, they can ensure that you can now enjoy your wine again without worrying about the annoying symptoms of wine intolerance.