Breaking News! Flush that Red Wine
Has this ever happened to you? You’re at a party enjoying a wonderful Merlot, sparkling conversation, listening to great music while wearing a new red dress that brings out the blue in your eyes – when someone points out your face matches your dress. Bummer, right? The culprit most likely causing this reaction is caused by tannins in alcohol that dilate capillaries in some of us, hence the redness.
“This is a largely genetic,” explained one of the scientist. “So along with bad teeth, freckles, and turning beat red when I drink wine, I can thank my parents for all of this.”
During the 14th century, a conspicuous red face was attributed to heavy consumption of alcohol and being labeled the town drunk. Not anymore! Now we understand flushing occurs for other reasons such as embarrassment, shyness and menopause, ranging in reasons from misfired neurotransmitters and dips in estrogen, effecting nearly 14 million Americans. So what’s a drinker to do if tannins are found in everything?
“I’m not just a scientist,” said a researcher. “But a functioning alcoholic, so imagine my surprise when I discovered vodka had high amount of tannins. It was like losing my best friend. But after I realized scotch had the lowest amount, I made a new bff.”
So why exactly does this happen? Turns out, when alcohol is ingested, it is first metabolized by an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase, or ADH. If your body properly processes this, you are golden (or whatever skin color you have). However, if your body makes a faulty version of this enzyme, acetaldehyde builds up in the body, which is a carcinogen, and this triggers the flushing. The body is literally trying to protect itself by sending a red signal to the brain.
“I am so fortune in this regard,” said a participant in the study. “Due to my childhood trauma of being forced to drink Manischewitz every Passover to ‘understand the plight of the Jews’, I have zero desire to drink red wine today.”
Fear not red faced individuals. There’s a pill for that. Now if scientists could just turn it into a tasty grape.
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