Every Sunday morning millions of Americans awake in a pool of their own sick asking the same question. Not, “Why do I do this to myself?” but, “Why is science wasting all that time on cancer when they haven’t cured the hangover yet?”
Well I’ll tell you why, who’s going to volunteer to be a research subject? Would you be lining up to feel like garbage so a guy in a lab coat could poke and prod you? Probably not. So we have to look for alternatives.
The way I see it, we’ve got 3 options:
- Home remedies which all work to some degree
- 7-Eleven rip-offs like Chaser which work almost as well as the home remedies but cost 10 times as much
- The classic “Hair of the dog,” which works great as long as you can drink forever from this morning forward.
So what do we choose? Anything that’s going to manage a hangover has to address the three different things that cause a hangover:
- Dehydration: This is the biggest factor. For every 30 ml of alcohol you drink you lose 200 ml of water. Dehydration can cause headaches and sickness even without alcohol.
- Vitamin Burnout: Alcohol is, at its heart, a poison. Your body does a lot of work to remove that poison (that you just paid $6 to ingest) from your system. That work, mainly done by your liver, uses a lot of vitamins like vitamin B and Potassium that aren’t available to you later. This can cause queasiness, tiredness and muscle cramps.
- Toxins: Additives, preservatives and chemicals, from a night out drinking, build up in your blood and cause sluggishness and vomitosity – never pleasant.
But what we eat and drink before, during and after a night out can have significant impact on how we feel the next day. All we need to do is plan for it when our head is still clear.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of “dear God I think I’m going to die”.
- Before you go out, load up on foods that are rich in the vitamins you’ll lose:
- Wheat Germ
- Whole Grain cereals
- Anything Soy
- A plate of spaghetti or a bowl of ramen before you go out is a good choice; carb-heavy foods will help slow the absorption of alcohol.
- Water, drink lots of water. Why start out dehydrated and then go drink something what will increase the dehydration?
Tonight’s party is still time we need to be thinking about tomorrow’s vomit. A few smart choices now will limit the consequences.
- Pig out at the end of the night. All that booze that’s in your stomach is still going to get into your blood, help slow it down with a big plate of anything.
- Clear alcohol, like vodka and gin, tend to have less toxic gunk in it then drinks like whiskey.
- Beer can be a better choice because it has a higher alcohol to water ratio.
- Again, drink water, lots of water. Try alternating each real drink with a glass of water throughout the night. You may end up going to the bathroom a few more times but it beats a morning of vomiting and a pounding head.
I know that between the headache and the puking and the urge to beat yourself to death against your own porcelain bowl the last thing on your mind is “What do I eat now?”, but eating the right thing at this stage can mean the difference between hell and purgatory.
- Pop (soda to you philistines) can be very useful the next day. The carbonation helps settle your stomach and the caffeine is a nice burst of energy.
- Greasy food is a hangover staple for a reason. It absorbs a lot of the acidity and fills you up.
- Tabasco sauce or anything hot is great during a hangover and no one really knows why. I suspect that a good sweat helps get rid of some of those toxins.
- Did I already mention water?
All in all, anything that slows the alcohol absorption, replaces vitamins the alcohol uses, or purges the toxins alcohol brings, will help reduce your hangover. But most importantly do everything you can to avoid dehydration. Even if it means you have to drink water. Lots of water. OR – and here is a novel idea – Drinking moderately lessens the likelihood of having to go through alcohol detox symptoms later on.