EXPERT ADVICE: TRUTHS & MYTHS ABOUT HANGOVER CURES
Hangover cures promise so much but deliver so little. So until science finally pops out the ‘hangover pill’, here are some simple strategies to ease the pain.
Surviving the silly season
The silly season is here — and if you’ve ever experienced a bad hangover, you’ll know just how its cocktail of tiredness, headache, nausea and reduced concentration can hit you for six. It’s no real surprise that excessive alcohol will make you feel unwell afterwards — it’s a toxin, after all. So, here’s what you can do.
HANGOVERS UP CLOSE
Alcohol is a diuretic, which helps explain the dehydration and much of the regret you feel the day after drinking too much. Frequent trips to the toilet during the night mean poor sleep, which makes you even more tired the next day.
But the symptoms of a hangover can’t all be blamed on dehydration. Alcohol irritates the stomach, which leads to inflammation and also causes the digestive system to produce more gastric acid. This contributes to the nausea and queasy stomach you experience when you’ve drunk too much and wake up with a hangover.
But, sorry folks, it gets worse! When your body metabolises alcohol, it creates a toxic by-product called acetaldehyde, and acetaldehyde build-up can lead to nausea, vomiting and headaches.
You may have been told that dark-coloured spirits, such as whisky and rum, as well as red wine, can make your hangover worse. Well, you heard correctly. These types of drinks are high in distillation and fermentation products known as congeners, which intensify the effects of alcohol on a hangover. So, there may just be something to be said for choosing white wine over red, or a vodka instead of a bourbon.
remedies: myth vs fact A greasy breakfast?
Who hasn’t tried a good ol’ bacon and egg roll to help put the ‘lining’ back on your stomach? in fact, the benefit the next day is probably more akin to a placebo effect — but if it makes you feel better, that isn’t such a bad thing. you gain the most benefit from food, however, by eating before you go out drinking, because it helps slow down the absorption of alcohol from your stomach.
A strong coffee?
Caffeine will help make you more alert — but it will do little to help sober you up. a study that looked at the effects of caffeinated versus non-caffeinated alcoholic drinks on a simulated driving task found that caffeine did not diminish the effects of alcohol on driving ability or reaction time.
A refreshing sports drink?
One thing that will certainly help your hangover is rehydrating yourself. this is where those popular sports drinks may just help, as they speed up water absorption and replace electrolytes lost through increased urination. Having one before bed may be a good preventative measure too.
‘Hair of the dog’?
One age-old approach is to try to drink yourself out of a hangover. Bloody Mary for breakfast, anyone? Not surprisingly, all this does is delay the hangover as your body switches to metabolising the new alcohol you’ve ingested. leave the hair on the dog!
Dr Tim Crowe is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and nutrition research scientist. Connect with him at thinkingnutrition.com.au
Did you know? Alcohol intake triples over the Christmas break