5 Tricks to Help You Avoid a HangoverWritten by David MasifonPosted on 02 08, 2017
As with everything else, drinking alcohol has pros and cons. Many of us take alcohol because of its effects soon after or while consuming. We feel good, we’re calmer, more sociable and at the very least, it helps us temporarily forget our problems. But we all know one of the worst things about alcohol is getting a hangover the morning after.
A hangover is the unpleasant after-effect of alcohol intoxication which usually strikes hardest when alcohol has left the body. The symptoms of a hangover including thirst, headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and loss of appetite aren’t fun, so to enjoy our alcohol as much as possible, we need to know how to deal with it.
It isn’t surprising that all sorts of “hangover cures” exist and some of these cures are said to be highly effective with little or no evidence to support the claims. The evidence behind many cures is limited and most haven’t even been studied. However, a few strategies for avoiding or curing hangovers have shown some potential. Below are five evidence-based ways to prevent or cure hangovers.
- Drinking in Moderation: The severity of your hangover increases depending on the amount of alcohol you consume. For this reason, the best way to avoid a hangover when you must have alcohol is to drink moderately. The quantity of alcohol required to cause a hangover varies between individuals, so it is important to know your limit and work around it strictly.
- Avoid Congeners: Alcohol is sometimes produced by sugar-fermenting yeasts and in the process, side-products known as congeners result. Congeners are toxic chemicals such as methanol, isopentanol, and acetone. The higher the amount of congeners in your alcohol, the higher the frequency and intensity of your hangovers. Alcoholic beverages with high congener content include tequila, cognac, and whiskey. Bourbon Whiskey is most notably high in congeners. Clear drinks like rum, gin and vodka are low in congeners with vodka containing almost no congeners. A good number of studies have been conducted comparing the effects of vodka and whiskey where hangovers have been found to be more frequent and intense after whiskey than vodka so with colourless drinks hangovers can be significantly reduced.
- Having Another Drink in the Morning: This may seem counterproductive, but it’s a famous hangover remedy with interesting science behind it. Drinking more alcohol affects the metabolism of the congener methanol. After you drink, methanol is converted into formaldehyde, a highly toxic substance which is responsible for many hangover symptoms. If you drink alcohol the morning after, the conversion process is inhibited so that formaldehyde isn’t formed and you discharge the methanol via breath and urine. This is why alcohol is used to treat methanol poisoning. That said, because consuming alcohol in the morning is often associated with a drinking problem, this remedy isn’t encouraged. Avoiding a few hangovers is not worth the risk of developing an addiction.
- Drinking a lot of water: As a diuretic, alcohol causes dehydration. Dehydration may not be considered the main cause of hangovers, but it contributes to symptoms like thirst, headache, fatigue and dry mouth. A great way to deal with this is to have a glass of water between drinks and one glass before bed.
- Taking Supplements: Inflammation is a mechanism that helps our bodies repair tissue damage and many hangover symptoms are said to be caused by low-grade inflammation. The good news is, many anti-inflammatory drugs, plant-based foods and medicinal herbs have proved quite effective against hangovers. Supplements including ginger, prickly pear and red ginseng have also proved effective in helping prevent hangovers. In a recent study involving 55 young and healthy people, taking prickly pear extract five hours before drinking reduced the risk of a severe hangover by 62% proving that prickly pear may not prevent our hangovers, but it might reduce our suffering significantly.