Date: Tuesday, October 02 @ 11:25:29 MDT
Follow the Froggies: Alsace gastronomy.
Wine is not a cure-all and not everyone should drink wine. There are also circumstances when no one should drink any alcohol. When combined with certain prescription drugs, for example, alcohol in any form can produce an adverse reaction. Wine should not be given to people with inflammations of the digestive tract, peptic ulcers, liver disease, pancreatitis, kidney or urinary infections, prostate disorders, epilepsy, or alcoholism. As previously mentioned, pre-menopausal women with a family history of breast cancer should abstain from drinking any alcohol, including wine.
Sulfites exist in nature and are also naturally contained in or even added to preserve a very long list of many common foods, including wine, cheese, yogurt and other processed dairy, bread and baked goods, tortillas, dried fruits, dried spices, shellfish, dried seafood, canned, bottled, or frozen fruits and juices, jams and jellies, tofu and other soy protein products, packaged pasta or rice mixes, etc.. The human body actually produces about 1 gram of sulfites daily through normal metabolism.
About 1% of the general population and about 5% of asthma sufferers may react to sulfites. Symptoms commonly include restricted breathing ability to varying degrees from mild to severe, even life-threatening, especially in asthmatics prescribed to steroids. Skin rashes, hives, itching and nausea are relatively rare symptoms for sulfite allergy. Reactions depend on both the sensitivity of the individual and the level of sulfites ingested. Headaches are not a symptom of sulfite reaction, although this is a common folk tale (see next section).
Foods may legally contain sulfites at levels ranging from 6 to 6,000 parts per million. The legal maximum for wine is 350 ppm, but the average content in premium wine is under 40 ppm. White wines are generally higher in sulfites than red wines. Inexpensive wines generally have higher sulfur content than expensive wines. There are no wines that are entirely sulfite-free, even those labeled "organic".
The best advice is to waste no time thinking about sulfites, unless your personal physician has warned you against them. For a more complete discussion, visit our article on Understanding Wine Labels.
Headaches, affecting some people during or after consuming wine, may result from individual reactions to one or more of wines' natural compounds. Although clinical trials have produced inconsistent results, red wine is suspected by some sufferers to trigger migraine headaches.
Phenolic flavanoids (the same ones that provide anti-oxidant benefits) are a component in grape skins related to tannins and which recent clinical evidence has shown to be the most probable culprits. Red wine has a much higher content than white wine of both tannins and flavanoids.
Chemicals called amines either dilate (histamines) or constrict (tyramines) blood vessels in the brain, either of which may cause headaches in a small segment of the population. Aged and fermented foods such as cheese, sauerkraut, salami, and sourdough bread are high in histamines. Although both red and white wines contain histamines, reds generally have higher content, especially low-acid reds made from grapes grown in warmer areas. Chocolate, vanilla, beans, nuts, bananas, cultured products like cheese and yogurt and fermented products, especially dark beer, soy sauce and red wine are all significant sources of tyramines. Taking antihistamine drugs, either before or after consuming, won't prevent or cure headaches.
The use of either aspirin or acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) either before of after alcohol consumption can seriously damage the lining of the stomach and should be avoided. The combination of acetaminophen and ethanol causes liver damage, so the former should never be used to treat hangover symptoms.
The only way to prevent a hangover is to avoid consuming too much alcohol. One good habit to develop is to match every glass of wine or drink with one full glass of water. Alcohol depletes electrolytes from the body and brain, so "sports" drinks can help also. The worst possible hangover "cure" is "hair of the dog", since hangover is merely the winky-winky, socially-tolerant slang term to describe episodic alcoholism withdrawal.
Overindulgence is potentially the worst health problem of consuming wine or any alcoholic beverage. Drinking too much ethanol at one time will cause headaches, nausea, and other symptoms for anyone, regardless of individual tolerance to other compounds in wine. Drinking too much or too fast leads to loss of control and judgment. A couple of glasses of wine may help relaxation and lower blood pressure, but four or more raises blood pressure to a level of concern.
Alcohol enters the bloodstream while it passes from the stomach to the small intestine and continues to the liver which uses an enzyme called dehydrogenase to break down and eliminate alcohol from the body. Evidence suggests factors of body size, muscle mass, food intake, gender, and experience affect one's capacity to resist drunkenness to some degree. On average, a healthy human can metabolize one-half ounce of alcohol per hour. The best rule is to not consume more than one drink (4 ounces of table wine) per hour, regardless of size, sex, or a full stomach.
Practiced in moderation and consumed with food at mealtime, wine drinking may develop cultural and sociological patterns that actually help to prevent alcoholism. The vast majority of healthy people may enjoy wine regularly and moderately as a pleasure that supports and prolongs a gracious life.