• Happy Hangover!

    The cure for what ails you! As we say farewell to this year and ring in the New Year we do so sometimes with more than just the toast at midnight. One of the many traditions of the New Year is often drinking to excess.

    Happy HangoverNot everyone starts the night anticipating the hangover; it just happens after you realize a bit too late that you have had too much to drink. You can take steps to prevent the hangover or the steps to cure it.

    First, a brief explanation of what is happening in the body: beverage alcohol is a powerful diuretic. It makes our body release water. Lots of it. You see that when you start peeing – it is pretty much clear. That is water leaving the body – obviously. But it is a lot of water along with electrolytes like sodium and potassium. It is NOT alcohol! The liver is still dealing with that and that takes time.

    So the main reason for a headache and muscle aches is dehydration. So, the primary thing is to make sure you are well hydrated. All the time.

    Prevent It

    The only sure way to prevent a hangover is to abstain. Drinking no alcohol obviously prevents all hints of a hangover. But you probably aren’t reading this if you are an abstainer.

    Other than abstention, what is proven to prevent hangovers just does not exist, but that does not mean people don’t have their favorite “sure way” to share.

    Here are some ideas that people have shared and swear by:

    • Drink non-alcoholic fluids: throughout the night or day, and especially before going to bed, drink plenty of fluids. Some swear water is fine, while others will say to drink tomato juice, fruit juice or a sports beverage such as Gatorade. This makes sense since alcohol is very dehydrating. If you have been there, you know how you feel when you wake up through the night. And the electrolytes of sodium and potassium in the juice and sports drink help replace the electrolytes your muscles need and reduce muscle soreness.
    • Honey: a tablespoon or two of honey before you go out, or start drinking may reduce the chance of a hangover. I don’t remember where I heard this one, or the mechanism, but supposedly it works. 1 tablespoon of honey = 65 calories.
    • Eat protein and fat: the suggestion is to eat a meal of mostly protein and fat, instead of mostly carbs, and this will slow the absorption of alcohol because it takes us longer to digest fat and protein than carbs. Also, have food in your stomach before you start drinking, otherwise it doesn’t work as well.

    Cure It

    If you hadn’t planned on or didn’t realize that you drank too much yesterday/last night, then you didn’t know to do any of the preventive steps. So, what can you do to “cure” your hangover? The only cure for a hangover is time. Wait and wait and wait. How long you have to wait depends on how much you drank, body size, and gender.

    • Drink non-alcoholic fluids: again water, juice or sports beverage works. Coffee and more alcohol (hair of the dog) does NOT help. Coffee isn’t working against you as much as it is just not helpful.
    • Aspirin or other pain-killers: try to stick with aspirin, which can alleviate the pain, but it is best to avoid acetaminophen if you are a chronic drinker because of potential liver issues.
    • Eat: as much as you may not feel like eating, it is good to have some eggs and fruit. The eggs are supposed to help with absorbing the extra toxins from the alcohol, and won’t hurt you if they don’t. The fruit with provide the vitamins and minerals as well as fluid – try a banana for a soothing, low acid fruit that is high in potassium.
    • Exercise: if you can handle it, go for it, but it really doesn’t cure the hangover. I just want to get people to exercise more…
    • Rest: like time, this is one of the better remedies. Eat your breakfast, or lunch, grab your water or sports beverage and find your favorite movie or bowl game and rest it out.

    That’s what I have for you.

    Most of this is not based on research, but many anecdotal preventions and cures I’ve heard and learned over the years. As mentioned, the best prevention is to abstain or consume alcohol in moderation, and the best cure is time.

    What is your favorite hangover prevention and or cure?