Seasonal hayfever is miserable. Scientific research suggests swopping your drink helps. Avoid red wine in favour of white wine. Even better, sip Sparkling. Honest. Its the most welcome heyfever management advice you’ll get this Summer.
HEY! HEY! ITS HAYFEVER TIME.
About 20% of people in the UK suffers from hayfever. That’s 1 in every 5. So in almost every gathering you’re likely to include a hayfever suffered. Hayfever is worse when its warmer in the Summer – which is exactly the time you would like to be outside sipping something delicious. Believe me, its tricky to taste when your nose is streaming, your eyes itch and you have a sneezing fit.
THE BAD NEWS
In Denmark they have discovered that drinking alcohol increases the risk of heyfever. Worse still, it also increases the severity of symptoms. Even 14% of non-hayfever sufferers showed signs of hayfever after drinking alcohol.
The more you drink, the more likely you are to suffer hayfever. If you drink more that 14 drinks a week you are 1.78 times more likely to develop hayfever. This is not great news.
TOO MANY HISTAMINES
Its not because of the alcohol itself. Its because of the histamines already in you, and the histamines in the wine. Your body creates histamines all the time. Your immune system creates them: for example histamines will release stomach acids to digest food. You find histamines in alcohol but also in foods such as cheese, fish and smoked meats. I’m sorry if this is putting a bit of a downer on your planned picnic. Beware spinach too!
If you have a histamine overload, either because you are producing too much yourself, or you eat or drink them, you become ‘histamine intolerant’. Symptoms appear such as headache, hives, nausea, sneezing and .. ahem … digestives issues. So if your body is already producing histamines to fight off an allergic reaction to pollen, you nibbling that bit of cheese, or drinking that glass of wine may just tip you into having an excess of histamines.
THE GOOD NEWS
You can do something about it. Not all drinks are the same though. All wine is relatively low in histamines, and well below the level that would cause a reaction in most allergy sufferers. However, you can stack the odds in your favour by choosing drinks to limit your histamine intake. Drinkwell UK reports that red wine can contain 20% to 200% more histamine than white wine. So if you swap your Pinot Noir for a Pinot Grigio you could stay sniffle-free.
As a rule of thumb, red wine has 60mg-3,800mg of histamine, whereas white wine has 3mg – 3,800mg of histamine. Sparkling wine has a modest 15mg – 670mg of histamine. So sip Sparkling!
It may, in part, be the winemaker’s fault. Histamine levels in wine can be affected by the type of yeasts and bacteria used. Long maceration of the juice in the grape skins and seeds – which gives you that deep red colour and higher tannins – also gives you more histamines.
BUT WHAT ABOUT SULPHITES?
Some people are allergic to sulphites. They are a recognised allergen which has to be stated on the label. There are sulphites in wine, but if you are not allergic to them then try not to worry about them. The sulphites in wine (often 20 parts per million) are tiny compared to the sulphites in dried fruit (especially apricots, raisins and prunes which have between 500 and 2,000 parts per million). So if you think you are sensitive to sulphites you should probably avoid canned, dried or frozen fruits and vegetables, fruit juice, jam, cereal and muesli, before you worry about wine.
Nevertheless, people shun some wines saying that the sulphites give them a headache. That is possible, but it is not necessarily so. If ever you react to a wine – and I remember my red itchy neck after the first sip of a particular wine – don’t necessarily blame the sulphites. It could be those dastardly excess histamines.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling below par and you have drunk too much ….. you have drunk too much! There’s no use blaming the sulphites or the histamines.
Just remember, as we say on our back label, we make Ambriel with care – its best drunk in the same way.