FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Cursing last night’s G&TS, margaritas and the inevitable sambuca shots? Dietitian Laura Tilt may be able to help limit the damage
Can you eat away a hangover?
What rhymes with December? Hangover. Well, sort of – give or take a bit of poetic licence. But, when you wake up with a cracker crown tangled in your hair and a hazy recollection of dancing on the bar Coyote Ugly- style, is the classic bacon butty really the best hangover cure on offer? Hangovers are multi-faceted; they’re mainly caused by toxic acetaldehyde, which is a byproduct of alcohol breakdown. It’s down to your liver to turn acetaldehyde into acetate – a less toxic compound – but this takes an hour per unit. Blame the magic combo of acetaldehyde, alcohol chemicals, dehydration and a lack of sleep that leaves you feeling distinctly un-magic. So what can you do? First, tackle the dehydration. It’s no fluke that your toilet trips increase with the number of espresso martinis you drink – alcohol blocks vasopressin, the hormone that helps you retain water. Drinking plenty of fluids the morning after goes without saying, but sip, rather than gulp, to avoid aggravating nausea. Water is fine, but isotonic sports drinks are better, as the electrolytes and sugars will replenish your fluids more effectively. If you do feel nauseous, try a ginger citrus tea. A 2010 study from Toho University, Japan, found that a liquid concoction of citrus peel, ginger and brown sugar relieves alcoholinduced nausea and vomiting – though it’s worth noting that the participants were given the remedy before boozing. That’s the sore head and dodgy stomach dealt with, but drink also lowers blood sugar, which can leave you feeling shaky and lethargic. If you’re up to solids, eggs are a top choice – they contain cysteine, an amino acid that helps your liver metabolise acetaldehyde. Scramble over toast to raise blood glucose levels. You may have noticed no mention of greasy fry-ups. Why not? Because there’s no convincing evidence to suggest fat does anything to help a hangover. According to the Alcohol Hangover Research Group, any positive effect is more likely to be garnered from the carbs in bread and beans, served alongside your rashers and sausages – which help increase blood sugar back to healthy levels. When it comes to fat, try eating it before you drink, as it reduces the rate at which alcohol enters the bloodstream – suddenly, a bacon bap becomes your pre-game preference. Win. Really, though, the only genuine way to treat a hangover is prevention, so aim to alternate every alcoholic drink with water. You’ll be glad you did.