- A post on Kourtney Kardashian’s new lifestyle website Poosh suggests that organic wines could help prevent hangovers.
- The post suggests that this is because organic wines contain less sulfites, a type of preservative, than non-organic wines.
- But there is no research that supports the idea that organic wine prevents hangovers or that sulfites cause them.
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Kourtney Kardashian officially launched her lifestyle website Poosh yesterday.
So far, the content focuses on a mixture of shopping, health, parenting, beauty, and fitness.
But one post makes a dubious claim: It suggests that organic wines could give you less severe hangovers than non-organic wines.
“The main cause of a wine-induced hangover comes from sulphur dioxide – which is a preservative found in wine used to curb bacteria,” the article reads. “So, it could be argued that drinking organic wine leads to less of a hangover.”
The post also offers a list of organic wines to try. The problem is that no scientific research backs up its claim.
Sulfites are found in all wines, even organic ones
Sulphur dioxide, commonly referred to as sulfites, naturally occur in wine during the fermentation process, but some winemakers add more sulfites to help preserve a wine’s flavour and shelf life, according to Gavin Sacks, an associate professor of enology and viticulture at Cornell University. If a bottle of wine has more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of natural sulfites or any added sulfites, it can’t be considered an organic wine, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
So Poosh’s logic is that by drinking organic wine, you consume less sulfites. That’s true. But sulfites aren’t what cause a hangover headache.
“It’s unclear which compounds [in wine] would cause headaches besides ethanol,” Sacks told INSIDER.
Ethanol is the alcohol compound found in beer, wine, and liquor. It’s produced when yeast, sugars, and starches ferment. Ethanol can lead to headaches and other hangover symptoms because it’s a natural diuretic (meaning it promotes the production of urine.) That process causes the body to release salt, vitamins, and minerals through the kidneys, and can potentially lead to dehydration and chemical imbalances.
The cause of wine headaches specifically is still a bit of a mystery, but one study suggests the head pain you might experience after too many glasses comes from the histamines and tannins (two other wine components), not the sulfites. That study also suggested – unsurprisingly – that the alcohol content of the wine itself plays a role in creating headaches.
In the article, Poosh does own up to the fact that drinking only organic wine doesn’t mean you’ll never get a hangover – they call their recommendation “half true.” (But really it’s just not true at all, according to the research.)
Some people can have bad reactions to sulfites
Sacks acknowledged, however, that there are some good reasons to avoid sulfites.
“There are people [who are] sensitive to sulfites, but the sensitivity isn’t in the form of headaches,” he said. “[It’s] something similar to an allergic reaction, but not an allergic reaction, with symptoms like trouble breathing and anaphylactic shock.”
One study found that sulfites can cause an asthma-related reaction in some people, but the instances of this are rare.
Consumers may also choose organic wines for other health reasons. Grapes are on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of produce items that contain higher levels of pesticides than others. Organic wines and those made with organic grapes cannot be treated with synthetic pesticides. So choosing wines made from organic grapes reduces the risk of consuming pesticides.
How to find out if you have a sulfite sensitivity
Sulfites are used as preservatives in a number of other food products, including dried apricots, since the compound prevents them from turning brown.
“If you can eat dried apricots and not get a headache, then you can you drink wine and not get a headache because of sulfites,” Ryan Elias, a food chemist at Penn State University, told Time magazine. “You’re getting a headache from something else.”
In fact, Sacks said one way to determine if you have a sulfite sensitivity is to eat three dried apricots. If your body has an adverse reaction, it could mean you shouldn’t drink wine with high concentrations of sulfites.
But if everything is normal, it means you don’t have a sensitivity.
Although Poosh may have over-hyped the benefits of organic wines, there are some reasons to buy them – just don’t expect your hangovers to magically disappear.
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