Sulfites are a chemical compound used to improve the appearance, taste, and shelf life of wine and other products. If you have a sulfite allergy, you cannot eat canned foods, dried foods, many processed foods and most fast foods. One study in 80 people with a history of wine-induced headaches found that consuming wine with a higher concentration of sulfites was linked to a greater risk of headaches (8). While most people can tolerate sulfites without issue, … These molecules are used in food products, including beer, wine and juices; processed meats; canned goods; and dried fruits. Sulfites are crucial for white wine to have a good shelf life, Meadows emphasized, "We need it; we need [sulfites]." According to the FDA, symptoms in asthmatic patients tend to be more severe. Check ingredient labels carefully, and avoid other products with high concentrations of these compounds to help limit your intake. This wine ingredient is made up of the exoskeletons of crab, shellfish, shrimp and other … A sulfite is a chemical food additive that’s commonly used as a preservative. Let’s take a look at them, along with what a sulfite allergy means. Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Sulfites are added to wine and beer to prolong their shelf life. This article explains the health benefits…. The sulfites also cause other reactions in individuals which can include an upset stomach and diarrhea. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. All rights reserved. In addition to this, sulfites also act as: Not only do sulfites in foods serve many purposes, but they are also inexpensive and convenient. So adding it to wine? These compounds may also cause headaches in those who are sensitive. In particular, they can help prevent the wine from browning, a process that can alter the wine’s color and flavor (4, 5). Our website services, content, and products are for informational purposes only. Hives, flushing, and rashes are a pretty non-specific reaction to irritants. Alcohol can dilate blood vessels and also cause aller ... Alcohol can … A small percentage of the population is sensitive to sulfites and may experience side effects like headaches, hives, swelling, stomach pain, and diarrhea. Learn more about the differences between sulfa allergies and sulfite allergies and how to treat…. Other potential side effects of sulfites have been reported as well, including hives, swelling, stomach pain, diarrhea, and, in rare cases, anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially fatal allergic reaction (1). Glycoproteins Allergy. You can also opt for red wine, which has significantly lower concentrations than other varieties, such as white wine or dessert wine (9). If you think that you may have a sensitivity to sulfites, limiting your consumption is key to preventing adverse health effects. While some people can tolerate sulfites, others may experience serious side effects, such as hives, swelling, and stomach pain. Sulfites allergy is possible, especially among people who already suffer from asthma. The causes of these allergic reactions range from sulfites to sturgeon swim bladders. Sulfites, also commonly called sulfur dioxide, are chemical compounds that contain the sulfite ion. They are also used as regulated food additives. Sulfites are used in foods and beverages to limit bacterial contamination. Allergic reactions in those who lack the enzyme to break down sulfite are commonly a rash or tingling and swelling. Research published in PLoS One in 2017 points out that, “Due to insufficient statistical data regarding individual sensitivities and consumer intake levels, it has been difficult to identify the exact level at which these preservatives become harmful.”. Reading food labels can help you determine which foods you should limit in your diet. Sulfites occur during the winemaking process naturally, for example, but winemakers and food companies also add them to their products to ensure preservation. Research suggests that these compounds may affect some people more than others. Check the label for ingredients like sodium sulfite, sodium bisulfite, sulfur dioxide, potassium bisulfite, and potassium metabisulfite, all of which can indicate that a food product contains added sulfites. Many people have some type of physiological reaction to sulfite (sulphate) containing products. This article…. Wine contains proteins from grapes, bacteria, and yeast, as well as sulfites and other organic compounds. Here are 7 ways to prevent hangovers that have shown potential in scientific studies. So are sulfites bad for you, and should you avoid them? Sulfites are food additives that can trigger allergy symptoms in some people, especially those with asthma. You've probably heard of red wine headaches and the suspected culprit, sulfites. Here are some facts about sulfite allergy: It’s not entirely clear why some people are more sensitive to sulfites than others. … These have ten to one hundred times the sulfite levels of wines. Anyone who has a sulfite sensitivity may experience adverse reactions to a food that include these ingredients. Although all wine naturally contains small amounts, many manufacturers have started producing wines without added sulfites. A vast majority of sulfite allergy reports describe the additive triggering the constriction of airways in asthmatic people. You won’t find sulfites in fresh, raw fruits and vegetables or any whole, unprocessed foods. Most people can safely consume the sulfites found in wine with minimal risk of adverse side effects. They are also often added to wine to prevent oxidation and maximize freshness. A sulfite is a chemical food additive that’s commonly used as a preservative to prevent bacterial growth. Studies show that 1 in 100 people is sensitive to sulfites so this is a fairly rare condition. Try some foods that are high in sulfites … This is especially true for people eating a typical Western diet of processed foods, canned foods and alcoholic beverages. Because sulfites are recognised as allergens, the European Union regulations stipulate that all manufacturers of food products should mention them on the label if their concentration exceeds 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/litre in terms of the total SO2. Sulfite can be a natural byproduct that occurs during the fermentation process and fights yeast and bacteria. Sulfite can be a natural byproduct that occurs during the fermentation process and fights yeast and bacteria. It gets more complicated when it comes to alcoholic beverages that are made with gluten grains but distilled. Studies are indicating that they can have a substantial impact on gut bacteria. Our team includes licensed nutritionists and dietitians, certified health education specialists, as well as certified strength and conditioning specialists, personal trainers and corrective exercise specialists. Healthline Media does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. After a glass of red wine or handful of dried fruit, do you notice flushing, abdominal pain or airway constriction? Grape juices, including sparkling varieties, Intravenous medications, including local anesthetics, corticosteroids, dopamine, adrenaline and phenylephrine. Dark knuckles can be caused by different skin conditions, medical conditions, genetics, and more. Sulfites have been linked to free radical damage in the body, which is why they make the list of potential cancer-causing foods. This Dr. Axe content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure factually accurate information. This impacts the good bacteria in your gut, too, and alters your microbiome. It is possible- but unlikely-that her reactions are caused by the sulfites that are added to wine. Almost all wines naturally contain small amounts of sulfites, but some winemakers also add sulfites to preserve the wine while it’s in the bottle. Food additives including sulfites, nitrates, food dyes and MSG have been linked to free radical damage within the body. These can either be acquired... Epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen). What Causes Dark Knuckles and How Can You Treat Them. For those with asthma who are sensitive to these compounds, consuming them can irritate the respiratory tract (1). It can cause respiratory, skin and digestive issues. In fact, these compounds are commonly added to soft drinks, juices, jams, jellies, sausages, and dried or pickled fruits and vegetables to slow spoilage and prevent discoloration (1). Symptoms of a sulfite allergy include: Hives and itchiness Upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting Trouble swallowing Flushing Dizziness Drop in blood pressure Trouble breathing While their reputation as the migraine harbingers isn't exactly deserved, they can cause other serious problems. Sulfites can cause allergy like reactions (intolerances), with symptoms such as wheezing in people with asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), and urticaria (hives). When it comes to sulfites in wine, there’s actually a method to remove the preservatives, at least in theory. © 2005-2020 Healthline Media a Red Ventures Company. What does the research say about sulfite side effects? Sulfites are also found outside of wine, in beer and dried fruit--- to name a few examples. You … Let’s take a look at them, along with what a sulfite allergy means. These compounds are required to be labeled in foods and beverages that contain more than 10 parts per million (ppm) sulfur dioxide (10). It examines both the pros and cons, helping you make an informed decision. Some people lack the enzyme that breaks down sulfites in the body. Sulfites are preservatives used in many foods, drinks (especially wine), and medications. Moderate amounts are very healthy, but too much can have devastating effects. Sulfites are incorrectly blamed for being the main cause of intolerance when drinking wine. It’s … This additive is also used to prevent browning, food spoilage and more. 12 Common Food Additives — Should You Avoid Them? Sulfites aren’t used on most fresh foods, but they’re still in some cooked and processed ones. Sulfites are preservatives used in some drinks, foods and medications. Sulfites are a food preservative widely used in winemaking, thanks to their ability to maintain the flavor and freshness of wine. 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