The answer to the age old question of how to avoid a hangover is as much an art as it is a science. While a lucky 25 to 30 per cent of people are naturally hangover-resistant, the rest of us suffer. Luckily, there are a few effective science backed ways the rest of us can learn to survive the dreaded morning surprise and live to drink another day. Here’s how it breaks down.
A hangover is caused by your body metabolizing alcohol and its impurities. Alcohol is essentially a poison and is metabolized by your body as a toxic sugar. Nausea that may accompany drinking is your body’s way of saying WTF are you doing to me. Alcohol also contributes to dehydration which can result in pounding headaches. When you’re dehydrated, the tissues surrounding your brain shrink since they are composed mostly of water. This in turn exerts actual physical pressure on the brain. This is a hangover in a nutshell.
How to avoid a hangover with chow
Everybody loves to chow down when they’re drunk for a good reason. Eating before or after drinking helps to lessen the effect of alcohol by ensuring the party in your stomach is attended by more than just booze. The extra guests help to keep the alcohol from getting out of hand.
Food plays the biggest role in answering the question of how to avoid a hangover. In fact, eating food before drinking has been shown to be most effective antidote. Also keep in mind that not all food is created equal in the hangover prevention game. Fatty foods are high in protein which binds with alcohol molecules and slows its absorption into the bloodstream. This gives the liver more time to process the good stuff and makes all the difference. It’s a good idea to combine some eggs and bacon with your bender. Breakfast joints fill up fast after last call for good reason. Eggs are also packed full of taurine (the good stuff in energy drinks) which has been proven to reverse liver damage caused by booze. Check out this article for more hangover food ideas.
How to Avoid a Hangover with Water
Like coffee and cranberry juice, alcohol is a diuretic which depletes your body of water. Your body is made of around 60% water and that level has to be maintained for your body to work well. The best advice Jon Taffer ever gave on Bar Rescue (that didn’t involve running a bar) was to drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you throw back. This helps to dilute the effect of the alcohol and in turn helps to prevent a hangover. Give your liver more time to process the alcohol and it will thank you in the morning. Also consider replenishing your body’s stores of vitamins and electrolytes which have likely been washed out by alcohol. Folate and potassium are especially important. Both can be found in bananas and spinach.
How to avoid a hangover with the right potions
If you’re especially susceptible to hangovers, stick to potions light in colour. Darker liquors (and pretty much all liquers) contain congeners and other things your body sees as impurities. Congeners are substances that are produced during the fermentation process. When your body metabolizes them they contribute significantly to your hangover.
Drinking a glass of milk helps to slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. This also means you won’t be the first to get drunk and awaken with a mural painted on your face. Drinking ginger tea will also help to keep your stomach calm. Ginger is known to prevent nausea.
How to avoid a hangover with jedi mind tricks
A number of studies in the recent past have shown that a person’s preconceived expectations of alcohol consumption determine the affect more so than the amount of alcohol that is actually consumed. In other words, if you expect to get drunk it will take less alcohol to get you drunk. Shady bar owners have known this for years. That’s why so many get away with watering down your favorite potions. Drinking less alcohol puts less physiological strain on your body so less suffering will likely accompany the sunrise. The preconceived expectations of the accompanying hangover must be adjusted accordingly and therein lays the trick. The mastery of this method of hangover prevention should not be attempted by the novice.
How to avoid a hangover with abstinence
I couldn’t write an article about how to avoid a hangover without saying that the absolute most effective and universally recognized way to avoid a hangover is not to drink in the first place. Not drinking alcohol will keep you hangover free 100 per cent of the time, every time. Check out the video below to summarize what I’ve covered and don’t forget to join us on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo Credits: Maggie Cooper