Does drinking wine give you migraines, digestive issues, or flushed skin? If so, you may be experiencing symptoms of sulfite allergy or sensitivity. According to the Food and Drug Administration, 1 in 100 people suffer from a sulfite sensitivity or allergy. Many people live with a sulfite sensitivity without even knowing it, especially people with asthma. They accept that drinking a glass of wine will come with some nasty gastrointestinal, skin, and respiratory side effects or even worse just stop drinking wine all together!
What are symptoms of sulfite allergy or sensitivity?
Many individuals are sensitive or allergic to sulfite additives and experience a wide range of symptoms, including skin, gastrointestinal and respiratory issues. Only your doctor or allergist can successfully diagnose a sulfite sensitivity or allergy, but here’s a list of symptoms whose root cause could point to sulfite sensitivity or allergy. Symptoms can be mild to moderate and very rarely severe:
- Worsened morning after headaches, migraines
- Digestive issues – diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and nausea
- Skin issues – itchy skin, rashes, facial redness and flushing
- Respiratory issues – wheezing, difficulty breathing, cough, chest tightness
- Anxiety, paleness, and weakness
- Anaphylactic shock – very rare
In addition to triggering episodic and acute symptoms, sulfite additives also play a role in the chronic symptoms experienced by some individuals. Sulfites are also known to cause free radicals in your wine which damage cells and increase the risk of many other diseases.
What are sulfites, anyway?
Sulfites are a family of food chemical additives that are used as a preservative to prevent browning and discoloration in foods and beverages during preparation, storage, and distribution – most famously in wines, but in many food products and medications as well. The Food and Drug Administration requires any food or drink containing sulfites include this information on the label, either in the ingredient list or in a special allergen disclosure statement “contains sulfites” following the ingredient list.
How do I know if my wine or food contains sulfites?
All wines contain some level of sulfites, which occur naturally during the fermentation process – even organic wines! Some winemakers add additional sulfites prior to bottling. If so, the FDA requires the label to say “contains sulfites.” You can also look on food labels for the following sulfite-containing ingredients:
- Sulfur dioxide
- Potassium bisulfite
- Potassium metabisulfite
- Sodium bisulfite
- Sodium metabisulfite
- Sodium sulfite
What are some strategies to eliminate sulfites from my diet?
While only a doctor can diagnose a sulfite allergy or sensitivity, there are actions you can take today to start eliminating harmful sulfites preservatives from your diet. If you suspect your skin, digestive, or respiratory issues may be related to a sulfite sensitivity, or if you want to eliminate chemical preservatives as a part of a healthier lifestyle, here are some tips on eliminating sulfites from your diet:
- Use StiQit to remove sulfites from your glass of wine. All wine has some naturally occurring sulfites, even organic wines. WIth a few stirs, StiQit completely removes sulfites from any glass of wine.
- Avoid sulfite containing foods. Read the labels of all your packaged foods to see whether they contain sulfite-containing ingredients or if the label includes “contains sulfites.” Be especially vigilant for condiments, preserved fruits like maraschino cherries, and frozen foods.
- Be especially vigilent when ordering from large chain restaurants as they are more likely to use frozen or preserved ingredients, rather than fresh ingredients.
- Check your medication label to see if it contains sulfite-containing ingredients. If so, request a different brand that does not contain sulfites.
Whether you are sulfite sensitive or just trying to live a preservative-free lifestyle, eliminating sulfites is a critical part of holistic wellness and being the best version of you.