Wine has always been cast as a good type of alcohol for our health. It’s welcomed in the highly-successful Mediterranean Diet. It’s considered beneficial for your heart health because of its antioxidants. It’s so ingrained in our culture even Jesus drank it.
And yet, drinking alcohol of any kind—including wine—can create some negative effects on one’s health due to how the body reacts to its chemical and addictive properties.
Alcoholic beverages contain ethanol, an organic chemical compound made from plant materials that is produced by the fermentation of sugars. It is considered a psychoactive drug (causing an altered perception of mood, consciousness, cognition, and behavior), and ethanol is also popularly used as a means for fuel for cars and even some rockets.
According to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, wine is considered a significant trigger for asthma. The study concluded that 33% of participants experienced alcohol-induced asthma, and wine was the most frequent trigger, with symptoms ranging from mild to moderate severity. While more research needs to be done, experts speculate that wine-induced asthma could be triggered due to the sulfites in wine commonly used as a preservative. The study also notes that salicylates, a grape and wine chemical marker, could also play a role in allergy-related issues from vino.
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Yes, “wine headaches” are actually a thing—and it’s not due to the sulfites, although that tends to be the popular belief around this particular condition.
Harvard Health explains that some consumers have a shortage of an enzyme that breaks down histamine in the small intestine. Histamine is a compound found in grape skins and is more prominent in red wine versus white. Alcohol consumption can actually inhibit the enzyme, which can cause a boost of histamine levels in the blood, dilating blood vessels and causing headaches.
Maybe you’ve referred to it as “the spins” before, but it’s enough of a warning sign to think twice before taking another sip. There is a lot of research already that shows alcohol use (not just specific to wine) can cause dizziness in some capacity, especially if you’ve had too much to drink.
The American Addiction Centers say dizziness can come in two forms while drinking—lightheadedness and vertigo. If alcohol is making you feel nauseous and like you’re going to pass out (lightheaded) or if you’re losing your balance and feel like your surroundings are moving around you without any actual motion (vertigo) it’s likely you are experiencing the spins in some capacity.
It’s known as an alcohol flush reaction, and it primarily happens on the face. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) says that flush, also known as red face, happens due to an alcohol intolerance, causing people to metabolize alcohol less efficiently. Red face can also be accompanied by hives, nausea, low blood pressure, worsening asthma, and migraine episodes. It’s even linked to a higher risk of cancer.
If you find yourself constantly in need of a glass of wine, it may be time to talk to a doctor or another medical professional about dependency.
The CDC states that alcohol dependence doesn’t always mean you drink in excess, but could include a current or previous history of excessive drinking. Alcohol dependence is considered a chronic medical condition that includes “a strong craving for alcohol, continued use despite repeated problems with drinking, and an inability to control alcohol consumption.”
The NIAAA states that any woman consuming more than three drinks a day or seven per week, or a man with four drinks a day or 14 a week, is at a high risk of developing an Alcohol Use Disorder. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines heavy alcohol use as binge drinking five or more days during a month.
According to researchers, alcohol is considered the most harmful substance even compared to narcotics. If this is something you are struggling with, you can reach out to a medical professional or seek treatment through SAMSHA.