Is Sulfite The Wine Headache Maker?

Are Sulfite Side Effects Causing That Wine Headaches?

Sulfites are a necessary evil in wine, as they’re required as a preservative but also cause sulfite side effects in some people. Some people have claimed that they receive headaches from drinking even one glass of wine and they might be quick to label themselves as drinking lightweights. In actuality, those people could be suffering from sulfite allergies and some alterations to their drinking tendencies should be taken.

Sulfites Are A Salt That Contains

Sulfites are a salt that contains sulfuric acid and they’ve been included in wine and food since the 17th century. Sulfites are especially added to wine to encourage faster grape fermentation and preventing the growth of bacteria. When some people drink wine, they get flushed cheeks and headaches and have somewhere heard that this is a symptom of a sulfite side effect. The truth is that these flushed feelings could be caused by something called ‘red wine syndrome’ which is typically associated with the tannins and histamines used to make the red wine.

The reason that skeptics are critical to label a wine headache as a sulfite side effect is that there are a number of other foods that contain the additive. If dried fruits and potatoes also cause headaches, then it’s likely that a person does have a sulfite allergy, instead of just a reaction to certain grapes used in wine.

Sulfites side effects have no reaction in most people, but roughly 1 in 100 are in fact sensitive to the mineral. People with asthma are more likely prone to have sulfite allergies and will experience discomfort. Some common signs of sulfite side effects include headaches, skin rashes, itching, swelling, and muscle cramps. In extreme cases, life threatening attacks inhibit people with wheezing, blocked airways, and extreme difficulty breathing.

If a person finds themselves inhibited by sulfite side effects, they should limit their intake of the additive, especially in extreme situations. If a wine drinkers thirst for the vino is simply insatiable, there are a number of sulfur-free or lower sulfur wines on the market today. Since sulfur is critical to preserving wine over months and years, wines with lower shelf life are less likely to cause sulfur side effects. Also, more organic winemakers are entering the market with their tasty beverages that contain minimal amounts of sulfite.

Every person should have the opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine without worrying about sulfur side-effects, and soon that could be a reality.

What Is Sulfite?

What is Sulfite?

Let’s start with the dictionary definitions of what a sulfite is. According to the dictionary there are two definitions for sulfite. These definitions are as follows:

  1. a salt or ester of sulfurous acid.
  2. any sulfite-containing compound, especially one that is used in foods or drug products as a preservative and that can cause severe allergic reactions in susceptible individuals: use in fresh fruits and vegetables banned by the FDA in 1986.

Sulfites Aren’t Really Good/Bad?

Sulfites aren’t necessarily good for your health, nor are they necessarily bad for your health, but having a general understanding of what they are, and what they are used for might help you determine what you drink or eat tomorrow.

What Exactly Are Sulfites?
What exactly is sulfite, and what exactly is sulfite used for? Sulfites have been added to foods and drinks since 1964, which in theory, would mean it simply okay to use, and shouldn’t bother us at all, but you’d be surprised some of the side effects of Sulfite. They are inorganic salts which help to maintain and control microbial growth, they aid in the prevention of oxidation or keeping your food from turning brown, they bleach foods, and they help in preventing food from spoiling, they’re also really popular in the making of wines and alcoholic beverages that are similar to wine, it of course helps the shelf life maintain quite a bit longer time frame. In other words, they help in preserving food. Sulfites are in a group of additives which are controlled or regulated by the FDA, or otherwise known as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Additives are things, which are purposely put into food, but you wouldn’t eat them or drink them on their own.

The FDA Has Found…
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found or decided that sulfites are pretty much safe for consumption. They have performed extensive tests and evaluations on each sulfite prior to putting it on their safe list which is called GRAS. Once a sulfite is GRAS that doesn’t mean it stays on the list forever. If new compelling scientific research is done and the sulfite is deemed unsafe it is quickly taken off the list.

Even Though They’re Safe
Although sulfites have been deemed to be safe, the FDA has found that approximately one in every hundred people have a sensitivity or allergy to them. The substance particularly affects those people who have asthma, with approximately 5 percent of asthmatics developing an allergic reaction of varying degrees. Sulfites release a gas called sulfur dioxide when ingested. This gas can irritate the lungs, which is why it affects asthmatics the most. The reactions can be mild or in some cases they can be life threatening or even fatal. People with asthma are safest if they just avoid eating foods or drinking liquids which have the sulfites added to them.

Sulfites Must Be Labeled
Sulfites must be listed on the labels of the foods and drinks they are added to. If you feel that they are something that you don’t want to put into your body, make sure to read your labels and watch out for the following, Sulfur dioxide, potassium bisulfite, potassium metabisulfite, sodium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite and sodium sulfite.