It's an evil that we've all suffered more than once, and even when we think we have everything under control the night before, the next day we curse every one of those glasses we raised – or at least that last one ... or two. To help you survive a hangover with any dignity you might have still intact and so that it has the least impact on your body possible, we present these ten tips from nutritionist Hegoi Segurola so that you laugh right in the face of your hangover. Many thanks to Segurola for sharing her expertise in writing this article.
Excess: the mother of all hangovers
Make no mistake: miracle remedies don’t exist and it's quite unlikely that the trusty pharmaceutical companies will come up with something called Hangover Be Gone and that it will actually work. The only way to avoid a monumental hangover, besides not drinking, is by being smart about drinking. Two factors that are directly related to discomfort the next day are the amount of alcohol you drink and how fast you drink it. Drinking too quickly doesn’t give your poor liver enough time to metabolise the alcohol. So consider just slowing it down a bit.
On a full stomach
If you head out to drink alcohol on an empty stomach, you might as well save your pocket money and lie down in front of a steamroller for the same effect. You may you have heard that it's better to line your stomach by eating fatty foods before you tie one on, because it slows down digestion. However, the truth is that the best plan is to eat a healthy, well-balanced lunch or dinner containing fats, proteins and carbohydrates – a plate of pasta, for example. This is especially important for diabetics, since alcohol can cause hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).
Water isn't only for fish
A hangover, dear friends, is not a mythical monster: it has a physical basis. Alcohol is toxic to our bodies, it irritates our stomachs and dehydrates us, leading to side effects such as headache, stomachache, etc. One of the best ways to avoid your mouth being as dry as the Sahara the next day is to alternate between alcoholic drinks and soft drinks and water. And no, we're not talking about combining your rum with Coke or your whiskey with water, but drinking them separately.
Fact: there's no such thing as good alcohol and bad alcohol. Whether it's 'just' beer or wine, pale, sweet, dry, bitter or bubbly, any alcoholic beverage can end up causing a hangover depending on how much you drink. However, lower-quality alcohols – which contain methanol, acetates, and the like – do have higher levels of toxicity. If you think it's better to drink alcohol straight than combined with non-alcoholic drinks, you're wrong: mixed drinks only help a bit with hydration.
Dance! Dance, damn you!
It's also highly recommended that you move around – don't get too comfy on that sofa or perch on a stool for hours, your only exercise lifting your arm to take a drink and wagging your jaw to chat with friends. In addition to helping you drink less and at a slower rate, dancing keeps your blood circulating and you absorb alcohol at a friendlier rate. Everybody onto the dance floor!
They give you wings... and a headache
We won't name any brands, but energy drinks combined with alcohol are not a good idea, especially when consumed in excess. The high content of caffeine and stimulants dehydrate you even more than alcohol on its own. Not to mention, they're not cardio-healthy, as they accelerate your heart rate. Proceed with caution!
Before going to bed
Another good trick to avoid the 7th Cavalry galloping in your head the next morning is to make your last drink a soft drink or water: no alcohol! And if it's a sport drink – the kind athletes drink, not the kind in No 6 above – even better: these drinks contain several minerals and electrolytes that help us recover by increasing our hydration levels. Hurrah!
How about a nice cup of broth?
To get your strength back the next day, you should eat less than you would normally, and liquidy foods like soup, stew, casseroles, soupy rice dishes, etc. They should be mild foods that have a high concentration of salts to help you rehydrate and that are low in fat, to help your stomach with digestion. It's also recommendable to eat plenty of fruit, the juicier the better, like watermelon, melon and the like.
Surely one of the first ideas you can form when you wake up is that you need a big cup of coffee. While it might be true that caffeine will help you shake off the fog a bit, you should also know that it's quite the diuretic, meaning it makes you urinate more and therefore can add to dehydration. So you're better off drinking tea or herbal tea, juice or smoothies. And don’t forget sports drinks – they're great allies in winning the war on that blasted hangover.
Don't get caught in the hangover bunker, staying at home and avoiding all contact with the outside world. The truth is that a little movement will help activate blood flow and eliminate toxins, which will help you feel better. Have a shower to clean out your pores, and if you can't manage too much, at least head outside for a stroll. Don’t forget your sunglasses!