The 12 best things to do for a hangover Before, during, and the morning after that heavy one
While the only surefire way to prevent a hangover is to drink in moderation, we can all probably admit to skipping the whole “moderation” thing from time to time. So here’s what to do before, during and after a big night out to minimise that hangover:
1. First, eat
It’s not just an old wives’ tale: eating before you start drinking (we mean a proper meal rather than a handful of crisps) reduces the amount of acetaldehyde in your system. Acetaldehyde is the toxic chemical that alcohol is converted to in the body (which is actually more toxic than the alcohol itself!) and a prime cause of hangovers.
2. Drink like a fish
WATER, that is. Your liver needs water to process alcohol, and when you drink too much, your liver has to divert water from other organs like your brain (hello banging headache tomorrow morning!). Alternating tipples with water will also help control the amount of alcohol you drink, and the speed at which you drink it. That’s because, as the night wears on, you’ll start to become more dehydrated and thirstier, thus drinking at an even quicker rate than at the start. Also have a pint of water with TRIORAL Oral Rehydration Salt before you go to bed. This will help replace some of the minerals the alcohol has been busy depleting all night.
3. Pop a pill
Not an aspirin though (your liver has enough to process without throwing some OTC meds in the mix). Milk thistle is a herbal remedy that’s thought to boost liver function. The theory is you take it before you go out as well as the day after, and it helps your liver to process alcohol faster. It’s not a miracle cure and its effects on hangover aren’t totally proven, but anecdotally, many swear but it, and it may make symptoms more bearable. You can buy milk thistle in liquid and tablet form.
4. Keep it light
Toxic chemicals called congeners, which are produced when alcohol ferments, contribute to hangovers and are more prevalent in dark drinks like red wine and whiskey. The Royal Society of Chemistry advises sticking to gin or vodka because they’re purified by distillation. But remember light-coloured drinks can still cause hangovers. Quantity is key: if you drink a bottle of white wine (three or four large glasses), you’re not going to feel great the next day.
5. Go light on the bubbles
The bubbles in champagne can make you light-headed faster than the same amount of still wine. A British study compared the effects of flat and fizzy champagne on the same group of people, and when they had the fizzy stuff, their blood alcohol level rose more quickly. It’s thought that perhaps the carbon dioxide in the bubbles speeds the delivery of alcohol to your system.
6. Avoid caffeine
Avoid coffee and tea after a heavy night. Contrary to popular belief they don’t sober you up, and while caffeine may give you a quick lift the next day, it also dehydrates and irritates your bowel. This can lead to loose stools and add to feelings of nausea and a woolly head – all of which will make your hangover feel worse. Alcohol already reduces your quality of sleep, so you don’t need any pesky caffeine making things worse.
7. Be picky about painkillers
Paracetamol is the better choice for tender tummies, and soluble paracetamol is a good choice because it gets into your bloodstream faster (plus the water you glug it down with helps hydration). Just try not to take your paracetamol with tea or coffee: the combination of painkiller, caffeine and alcohol left in your system has the potential to damage your liver. Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen because they can worsen stomach irritation caused by alcohol.
8. Choose your sugars wisely
Can’t seem to shake the, well, shakes? They’re down to a lack of sugar in your blood. A white bread and bacon sarnie might be calling your name, but a breakfast of toast with honey is better for combatting your symptoms, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry (and they’re the experts). They say this meal provides the body with sodium, potassium and fructose – all of which are lost after a night of boozing. Add a banana or coconut water and you’ll further boost potassium and fructose levels. A glass of pure fruit juice or smoothie will also lift your blood sugar, plus fruit is packed with vitamin C, which helps your liver to process alcohol. Avoid pastries and other high GI goods, as all they’ll do is offer a quick sugar fix followed by an energy crash later.
9. Look after your stomach
Alcohol irritates your digestive system and increases acidity levels, which is what’s making you feel nauseous. Eating something bland like dry toast or biscuits should help but avoid cereal with milk as the fatty content of milk can add to queasiness. Popular remedies like Alka-Seltzerand Rennie can ease acidity – as long as you can keep them down.
10. Beware the fry-up
As your body processes alcohol it causes your blood sugar to drop, which makes you feel ravenous the next day. But a heavy fry-up is not a good idea because digesting fat will put extra strain on your already stressed digestive system. If you want something more substantial to start your day, try scrambled eggs on sourdough toast with baked beans. The beans and bread will steady blood sugar levels, while eggs contain cysteine, an amino acid that is thought to mop up the toxins that build in your liver.
11. Replace lost salts
Rehydration Packets, usually used for treating diarrhoea, can speed recovery from a hangover. This is because they contain small amounts of body salts (electrolytes) that replace lost fluids quicker than water alone. Mix one packet with water and drink before you go to bed (if it’s not too late) and do the same the morning after. TRIORAL Oral Rehydration Salts. www.trioralors.com
12. Get some fresh air
If you’ve ever gone out for a long walk the day after a night on the tiles, you’ll know it can make you feel better – but why? It’s because oxygen increases the rate at which toxins from alcohol are broken down in the body. Result.