Prevention and responsible drinking is the best hangover advice. Beyond that, I’ve heard just about every trick in the book but when it comes to treating a hangover yet, 1) time, 2) good nutrition and 3) lots of liquids, preferably water is the best antidote combination. It takes approximately 1 hour for your body to metabolize 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine. If you drink at a faster rate than this, your system becomes saturated and the additional alcohol builds up in the blood and body tissues until it can be metabolized. This is why drinking games are problematic as the high blood concentrations can last for hours. Hangovers begin 8 to 12 hours after your last drink and the symptoms may include thirst, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and depression.
- “The Hair of the Dog”. More alcohol will just delay the onset of your hangover and ultimately make it worse. It can also lead to substance abuse if you become reliant on alcohol as the cure to extending the onset of your hangover.
- Grease. A trip through a late night drive through or a morning brunch of sausage biscuits and gravy will not soak up the alcohol that is in your blood stream and remove it from your body. Psychologically a greasy meal may bring you comfort and physiologically it may slow down digestion, but it won’t cure the pounding in your head, reduce the strain on your liver or replace the fluids caused by dehydration.
- Caffeine. In a liquid form, caffeine will hydrate you to a degree and may help increase your focus and alertness that is oftentimes dulled by a hangover. However know your body’s response to caffeine as it may cause a migraine for some people and can be dehydrating if it’s not your morning habit so make sure to alternate with water. Note caffeine plus alcohol is never a good combination as it accelerates your rate of dehydration and just makes you a drunk, alert person.
- Sleep. Sleep unfortunately is not a cure but if you’re feeling crummy, it will just help you pass the time that your body needs to recover in an unconscious state.
- Vitamins. If popping a vitamin makes you feel better about what you did last night go ahead, however chances are your blood levels of water-soluble vitamins and storage sites of fat soluble vitamins weren’t thrown off to the point where a supplement is required to fix them.
- Gatorade. Unless you’ve been throwing up, Gatorade isn’t any better than free, plain tap water. However, if you have spent the night with your head buried in the toilet bowl, an electrolyte-containing beverage will be very helpful.
- Exercise. Sweating out the toxins with a good workout or a spa is a myth. You’ve liver has already metabolized the alcohol so there’s nothing left to sweat out. However you can burn off the calories associated with the alcohol and a good endorphin high may help improve your mood and enhance your energy. Be sure to drink plenty of water though so you don’t become further dehydrated.
How To Avoid A Hangover
- Hydrate. Hydrate yourself before during and after. Have a couple glasses of water before you go out tonight. Alternate your alcohol containing beverages with water. Switch out your night cap for 2 more glasses of water before going to bed tonight. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it can make you dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration mimic those of a bad hangover including headache, cotton-mouth and irritability.
- Eat dinner. Eat dinner before heading out or enjoy healthy snacks with your cocktails. Approximately 20 percent of alcohol is absorbed in the stomach and the remaining 80 percent is absorbed in the small intestine. Blood alcohol content rises much more quickly in someone who begins the party on an empty stomach.
- Choose healthy foods and beverages the next day. Examples include a Greek Yogurt smoothie, a bowl of cereal with low fat milk and topped with fresh cut berries and sliced bananas, homemade chicken noodle soup or turkey chili and hydrating fruits like melon, grapes and oranges. Low blood sugar makes you irritable and tired so it is important that you eat once your stomach is ready. Be careful however, as lack of sleep combined with low blood sugar and dehydration is a disaster in the making for an uncontrolled appetite.
- Hold off on taking your pain reliever until the morning. Give your body a chance to focus on processing the alcohol over night. It also makes no sense to take a pain reliever when you’re sleeping through it. Choose a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen) in the morning over acetaminophen (Tylenol), as it puts less of a strain on the liver.
- Treat an upset stomach, with an over-the-counter antacid such as Tums, Peto Bismol or Maalox to relieve your symptoms.
Remember the best cure is prevention, beyond that time, good nutrition and drinking plenty of fluids is recommended. Please drink responsibly this New Year’s Eve.
Categories: Nutrition & Wellness