Hangovers. Well we’ve all had them. We can all relate to that awful feeling of waking up dehydrated, nauseous, lethargic, and with mouths as dry as the Sahara.
There are no miracle cures for a hangover, apart from not drinking alcohol but here are some things you can do to minimise the pain if you do drink. The first thing to point out is that it’s much easier to prevent a hangover than cure one. So if you are going out to party, check our practical tips for:
BEFORE DRINKING ALCOHOL
Drink plenty of water
It will help against the dehydrating effects of ethanol, the cause of headaches, lethargy and raging thirst. Being hydrated before you go out will also help fill you up so reduce the speed you will drink alcohol.
Eat a meal
A full stomach slows down the absorption of alcohol which means you’re less likely to wake up with those dreaded hangover symptoms.
Know your limits
Your body takes at least an hour to process one unit of alcohol. Figure out in advance when you need to stop drinking in order to have all the alcohol out of your system by the morning.
WHILE DRINKING ALCOHOL
Choose your drinks wisely
Different types of alcohol produce different types of hangovers due to the amount of congeners (chemicals produced during the fermentation process) in them. As a general rule, dark coloured drinks such as red wine, port, whiskey are more likely to give you a severe hangover. Pale or clear coloured drinks such as white wine, beer, gin and vodka contain less congeners so are less of a hangover risk. Alternate non –alcoholic drinks and alcohol Follow every alcoholic drink with a soft one but avoid fizzy drinks – soft or otherwise – because the bubbles help speed up the alcohol’s progress in your bloodstream.
Avoid mixing different types of alcohol
You probably already know this from bitter experience but it is never a good idea to mix different types of alcohol. Because of the different levels of congeners and other chemicals in them, they will have different effects on you, so choose your tipple and stick to it!
A bottle of 12% wine is 9 units so half a bottle of wine and you’re already over your recommended daily limit. Government advice is: 2-3 units of alcohol a day for women & 3-4 units of alcohol a day for men.
AFTER DRINKING ALCOHOL
Boost your blood sugar
The classic symptoms of a hangover: zero energy, low moods, apathy are the result of your blood sugar having plummeted. The best hangover food is slow releasing carbs, eaten with some protein to slowly raise and maintain your blood sugar levels. Wholegrain toast with peanut butter or eggs would be perfect.
Avoid chocolate and coffee
Although they will boost your blood sugar quickly, they get it crashing down just as fast. Stick to clear water or a freshly made smoothie.
‘Hair of the dog” is not the answer!
Drinking more alcohol as a remedy for hangover won’t work and it will add to the burden on your liver.
Best hangover food
If you’re hung over, fatty foods may add to your feeling of queasiness. Alcohol does disrupt the gut so, although some people swear by a bacon sandwich or a fry- up, if you’re looking for hangover cures, the best foods are:
- Boiled, poached or scrambled eggs
- Wholegrain toast with Marmite or nut butter
- A yogurt based smoothie with banana
- Vitamin C-rich fruit such as oranges, kiwis, berries, papayas