Why Does Wine Make Me Hot
“Wine is a wonderful thing. It’s something we all enjoy on occasion — even those who don’t like drinking. But for others, alcohol may be more than just an occasional indulgence. For many people (myself included), there are few things better than sipping a glass of wine after dinner or on a lazy Sunday afternoon. And I’m not talking about your “”for medicinal purposes only”” kind of wine here! The real stuff, from grapes grown in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and beyond.
And while most of us can agree that wine is great, why does it make you hot?
It turns out that wine has both beneficial and harmful effects when consumed. Alcohol dilates blood vessels throughout the body and increases blood flow through the extremities and to the skin. This combined with the warming properties of tannic acid and histamines in red wine makes it particularly powerful, so much so that some people find it unpleasant, especially during warmer weather. On the other hand, ethanol is also a natural diuretic, meaning that it promotes fluid loss by increasing urine production. So if you consume too much at once, or drink heavily over time, dehydration could result. In fact, excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages can lead to malnutrition, liver disease, kidney damage, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
So what exactly causes this reaction in some people? Is it in their genes, or simply because they’re allergic to certain types of wine? Or is it due to the amount of alcohol they consumed? While no one knows for sure why some people get hot-flushed when drinking, scientists have identified several different mechanisms behind it.
The first mechanism involves our bodies’ normal response to heat stress. When we become overheated, our core temperature rises as well. Our bodies then release a hormone called epinephrine into the bloodstream which triggers sweating and constricts blood vessels near the surface of the skin. These reactions help cool off the body by allowing sweat glands to produce more perspiration and restricting blood flow to the surface of the skin.
But what happens when someone consumes alcohol before going outside in warm temperatures? Well, it appears that alcohol interferes with these processes. Since alcohol dilates blood vessels, it reduces blood flow to the skin, decreasing its ability to dissipate excess heat. As a result, the body becomes less efficient at cooling itself down.
Another theory suggests that alcohol dehydrates the body. When someone drinks, his or her metabolism slows down, resulting in lower levels of water intake. Drinking more can increase your internal temperature dramatically. Also, since alcohol is a depressant, it can slow breathing and inhibit reflexes such as coughing and sneezing. With little oxygen available, the brain is unable to function efficiently and cannot cool itself down.
Finally, alcohol inhibits the hypothalamus region of the brain, which controls the body’s thermostat. The hypothalamus regulates how sensitive your peripheral nerves are to environmental temperature. If alcohol suppresses the functioning of the hypothalamus, it will cause your nerve cells to respond abnormally to changes in temperature.
These explanations would seem to indicate that drinking wine in warm climates could actually increase rather than decrease body temperature. However, researchers found that moderate drinkers who regularly drank red wine had lower resting heart rates than non-drinkers. They concluded that the effect was probably caused by resveratrol, a compound that naturally occurs in grapes and whose health benefits include lowering cholesterol and preventing cardiovascular diseases [Source: Science Daily]. Another study showed that men who drank beer instead of wine had higher concentrations of testosterone, which raises questions about whether alcohol itself might play a part in regulating male sex hormones.
While research continues into why some people get flushed when drinking, there are ways to avoid discomfort. First, if you experience flushing anytime you consume alcohol, try cutting back gradually until it stops occurring altogether. Next, choose wines carefully based on color. Red wines contain large amounts of polyphenols, compounds that give them their rich colors. Polyphenols appear to interfere with the vasodilation process and can trigger mild flushing reactions in some people. Finally, avoid high alcohol content wines. Although it seems counterintuitive, drinking low-alcohol wines can sometimes result in flushing.
To learn more about wine and related topics, take a look at the links below.
According to WebMD, up to 90 percent of Americans say that they’ve been exposed to secondhand smoke at least once. One way to protect yourself is to avoid restaurants where smoking is allowed.”