Most of us enjoy the odd tipple now and again (especially with summer party celebrations round the corner), but when alcoholic beverages are flowing, there’s always the inevitable hangover, pounding headache, and unsettling nausea to follow. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to avoid getting a hangover altogether, and even means to relieve you if you do end up indulging a little too much. Here’s my hangover help!
What is a hangover?
So, what exactly is a hangover? Well, there are many different factors that contribute to the cause of hangover symptoms, but here are just a few:
- Alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate, which in turn promotes headaches
- Alcohol consumption increases urination production, which can lead to dehydration. This contributes to headaches, nausea, and dizziness.
- Alcohol increases the production of stomach acid, which can irritate the lining of your stomach, leading to nausea and vomiting.
- When you drink alcohol, ethanol is converted to a toxic compound called acetaldehyde. This builds up in the body and can contribute to many of the symptoms associated with a hangover.
- Many people also have an immune response to alcohol, causing an inflammatory process to take place leading to headaches, muscle aches, and fatigue.
Avoiding a hangover
Obviously, the best way to avoid a hangover is to refrain from drinking altogether, however, if you do decide to have a few drinks, here are my top tips to avoid that unwanted hangover:
- Make sure you have a meal before going out. Try to avoid refined processed foods that will cause an imbalance of blood sugar levels; instead have a meal that contains a good source of protein, fats and slow releasing carbohydrates.
- Stick to single shots of spirits! It’s so tempting to double up your shots of spirits, especially with so many bars offering great bang for your buck nowadays, but this is a first-class ticket to hangover hell. Remember to take it slow!
- After every alcoholic drink, consume a glass of water. Not only is this an easy thing to do, but it will prevent you from waking up with a debilitating headache.
- In addition to this, make sure you drink a large glass of water when you return home, and keep a glass next to your bed to consume during the night.
- You could also take a milk thistle tablet before going to bed; milk thistle is a herb that contributes to the detoxing potential of the liver.
Coping with a hangover
So, you’ve tried your best to avoid a hangover, but you were having so much fun that the inevitable happened. How do you cope with the nausea, thumping headache, fatigue and other symptoms that come along with a nasty hangover?
- Get hydrated – one of the best ways to deal with a hangover is through hydration. I would suggest drinking coconut water, since it contains naturally occurring electrolytes and will help replace the minerals lost during drinking.
- Avoid caffeine – as much as you might be craving a coffee or tea to give you a much-needed pick-me-up, this will only exacerbate your dehydration and hangover – trust me! If you do need a hot drink to quench your thirst, try to have a herbal tea instead. Ginger tea is an excellent option, especially if you’re feeling nauseous.
- Step away from the bacon sandwich – while you might think a trip to a greasy spoon will rid your body of its nasty hangover, a fry up will not do it any good. The greasiness will no only upset your stomach, but the sugar and salt will mess with your blood sugar levels. As a result, you will crave more junk food and become even more fatigued.
- Replenish your nutrient stocks – try to eat something healthy to refuel and rejuvenate your body. Eggs are an egg-ceptional choice; they are a great source of protein and crammed with the amino acids taurine and cysteine. Cysteine breaks down acetaldehyde – the chemical found in ethanol – while taurine is involved with liver function. You can’t beat poached or scrambled eggs on wholegrain toast when you are faced with a nasty hangover.
- Go bananas for bananas – bananas are a great source of potassium, which is the mineral your body loses when you become dehydrated. You could try eating a banana before going to bed, or slicing one on toast for a nourishing breakfast the morning after.
- Sleep – try to get as much sleep as you can; sleeping off the hangover will make you feel worlds better.
- Hair of the dog? While you may have heard this proverbial saying on regular basis, ‘hair of the dog’ is NOT this answer to your hangover. Although it may make you feel better initially, you’re just avoiding the inevitable and taxing your liver further.
If you’re able to make it out of bed, here is my hangover smoothie recipe, which hopes to make you feel half human again!
Ingredients (serves 1)
250ml coconut water
Handful of berries
1 scoop super greens powder
1 tsp honey
Bunch of spinach or kale
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend 30 seconds or until ingredients have blended together. Enjoy!