Alcohol is the obvious cause of a hangover. A single alcoholic drink is enough to trigger a hangover for some people while some others may drink heavily and don’t experience a hangover.
The effects of alcohol are the obvious causes of a hangover
Some of these effects include;
Alcohol irritates the stomach and causes an increase in acid production in your digestive system. This in turn can slow down or speed up the passage of food matter through your gastrointestinal tract emptying the stomach. These effects are associated with abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you urinate more than usual which in turn leads to dehydration. Dehydration is one of the major causes of dizziness, headache, thirst and light headedness.
Alcohol affects your body’s electrolyte levels. Electrolyte imbalances may contribute to headaches, weakness and irritability.
Immune system effects:
Alcohol triggers an inflammatory response from your immune system. This response produces physical symptoms such as decreased appetite, nausea, memory problems, inability to concentrate and loss of interest in usual activities.
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar):
Alcohol reduces the production of sugar (glucose) in the body. If your blood sugar gets too low, you may experience weakness, fatigue, dizziness, irritability, shakiness, mood disturbances and even seizures.
Vasodilatation (Dilated blood vessels):
Alcohol causes your blood vessels to expand. This effect is associated with headaches.
Deprives you of quality sleep:
Drinking too much alcohol can leave you feeling sleepy, it deprives you of having quality sleep and often causes awakening in the middle of the night, thus leaving you feeling drowsy and unusual.
What is Congeners in Alcohol:
Congeners are contents found in alcoholic beverages. They are by-products of the fermentation process that gives alcoholic drinks their distinctive flavor. Some common congeners include;
They are found in higher concentrations in dark liquors such as brandy and bourbon and in lower concentrations in clear liquor such as vodka and gin.
Congeners are likely to cause a hangover or increase its severity.
Research in 2010 compared participants’ self-reported hangover severity after drinking vodka or bourbon.
The research showed that participants who drank bourbon felt worse because of the high concentration of congener present in it.
22 BEST HANGOVER FOOD
While time is generally the best cure for a hangover, several food and drinks may alleviate the symptoms while you wait it out. Here is the list of best foods for hangover:
Since alcohol causes frequent urination thereby bringing about dehydration and the loss of electrolytes like potassium and sodium, bananas are perfect for replenishing the electrolytes lost. Bananas are very rich in potassium and can help replenish your body’s stores. One medium banana contains 12% of the daily value (DV) for this nutrient.
Watermelons are perfect for dehydration because of its high water content. It also contains L-Citrulline, a nutrient that may increase blood flow.
Eggs are rich in cysteine, an amino acid that your body uses to produce the antioxidant glutathione.
The body’s level of glutathione is decreased after drinking alcohol. A low level of glutathione in the body gives the body a hard time in breaking down the toxic byproducts of alcohol metabolism. Eating eggs rich in cysteine is a great way to increase glutathione in your body which could lower hangover symptoms.
Honey may improve hangover symptoms because of its high fructose content. Honey contains about 34.8% and 39.8% fructose depending on the kind. A study carried out showed that 50adults reported an increase in the rate of alcohol elimination in their body by up to 32.4% by just taking in honey.
During a hangover, the electrolyte sodium is also depleted. Pickles are high in sodium content and when taken in can replace the depleted sodium levels and overcome hangover.
Crackers contain fast-acting carbs that can increase your blood sugar during a hangover and improve related symptoms. Lower blood sugar results when excessive alcohol is being consumed because as the liver is processing alcohol, it no longer focuses on regulating blood sugar. Eating food with high carbs content like crackers can increase blood sugar.
Nuts are high in magnesium and therefore may be a solution to hangovers. Excessive alcohol depletes magnesium content in your cells. Taking in meals with high magnesium content may help refill magnesium levels in your cells and treat symptoms associated with hangovers.
After a night of heavy drinking, avocados are perfect to increase potassium levels from alcohol consumption and dehydration.
Research also shows that avocados contain compounds that protect against liver injury. Since drinking in excess alcohol takes a toll on your liver, avocados may be beneficial for hangovers.
Folate is also another nutrient that can be diminished due to heavy drinking. Spinach is rich in folate and can help replenish folate deficiency in the body. Eating spinach can help you maintain adequate folate levels after drinking alcohol.
Oatmeal contains complex carbohydrates that provide a low and steady release of sugar into the bloodstream and may help with hangover symptoms. Taking oatmeal after a night of heavy drinking may help with hangover related anxiety, fatigue, or low blood sugar.
Highly proteinous foods like meat may help your body better handle a hangover. Research proves that alcohol prevents your body from absorbing certain amino acids. In fact, chronic alcohol consumption can lead to amino acid deficiencies. Your body breaks down proteins into amino acids making it a good choice during a hangover.
Chicken noodle soup:
Chicken noodle soup is popularly known as a remedy for flu and the common cold. However, it is also a remedy for hangovers. It can help you rehydrate due to its high sodium content.
Blueberries are rich in nutrients that fight inflammation in your body which comes in handy if you have a hangover. Having blueberries after drinking so much alcohol can help fight related inflammatory compounds.
Oranges are rich in vitamins which may prevent your body from losing glutathione. Glutathione which is an antioxidant that helps in getting rid of alcohol from the body is often decreased during alcohol consumption. Eating oranges may provide the vitamin you need to keep your glutathione level stable.
Salmon is rich in omega 3 fatty acids that are excellent inflammation reducers in your body. Eating salmon or other fatty fish can reduce the number of compounds that cause inflammation in your body and may also be a good way to ease hangover symptoms.
Extracts from asparagus are capable of doubling the effectiveness of certain enzymes in the body that help break down alcohol and prevent the liver cells from being damaged. Asparagus contains certain compounds that may provide hangover relief.
Nausea is one of the symptoms of a hangover and extensive research has been able to prove the effectiveness of ginger as a remedy for nausea.
Ginger is also considered as a possible treatment for stomach upset associated with hangovers because of its anti-nausea properties.
Sweet potatoes contain vitamin A, Potassium and magnesium. The vitamin A content in sweet potatoes may help fight the inflammation associated with hangovers, while magnesium and potassium will replace the electrolytes lost during alcohol consumption.
Water is one of the most important liquid to take during hangover. Alcohol is diuretic and can therefore cause dehydration. Water can rehydrate you.
Research showed that compounds in green tea significantly decreased blood alcohol concentration in rats.
A similar finding was made and a similar effect was discovered in mice fed with green tea extracts.
While this research has only been proven in animals, the effectiveness of green tea in improving hangover symptoms may translate to humans.
Tomato juice is another good beverage drink to consider when trying to relieve a hangover.
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage and research has been able to prove that tomatoes contain compounds that protect against liver damage. So tomatoes may counter the effects of drinking excess alcohol.
Coffee consumption has been linked to decreased inflammation in some studies. Therefore, drinking a cup of coffee after a night of heavy alcohol may fight inflammation from a hangover, though more research is needed to confirm these findings.
Drinking coconut water may facilitate getting over the dehydration you may experience during a hangover. Coconut water also contains lots of electrolytes and therefore will be an effective drink to relieve hangover symptoms.
Some people more likely to develop a hangover?
For some people, as little as one drink can trigger a hangover.
Other people seem to be able to get away with several drinks, or even a night of heavy drinking, without experiencing much in the way of next-day effects.
So, why are certain people more prone to hangovers?
A variety of factors may increase your risk. These include:
Sex. Some research suggests that women are more likely to experience hangovers than men.
Personality. Certain personality traits may influence your hangover symptoms. For example, a recent study suggests that people who are shy are more likely to experience anxiety when hungover.
Health status. According to a recent study, hangovers were associated with poorer self-reported health status.
Age. The results from this 2013 study and this 2015 study source suggest that younger people are more likely to experience more severe hangovers.
Genetic factors. Among people who have a particular genetic variation, as little as one drink can cause flushing, sweating, or even vomiting. Having a family history of alcohol use disorder also affects how your body processes alcohol.
Other behaviors associated with drinking. Smoking cigarettes, using drugs, or staying up later than usual may exacerbate a hangover.
How to prevent future hangovers
Prevention is the best treatment for a hangover. The next time you plan to drink, try the following:
Avoid carbonated drinks. Carbonated or fizzy drinks speed up the rate at which alcohol is absorbed in your bloodstream, which could contribute to hangover symptoms the next morning.
Avoid cigarettes. Smoking affects your hydration, immune system, and sleep quality, leaving you with a more intense hangover.
Eat a carb-rich meal. Having a meal rich in carbs, such as brown rice or pasta, can help you slow down the rate that alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream. This may prevent hangover symptoms the next day.
Drink enough water. Drink water steadily throughout the night. Try having a glass between each drink, and another glass before you go to bed.
Know your limit. If you know that five or six drinks will result in a hangover, find ways to limit the amount you drink.
For example, try alternating between alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks or taking a half-hour break between each drink. Use other activities, such as dancing or socializing, to break up the rounds.
Opt for light-colored drinks. Choose drinks that are clear-colored, which tend to be lower in congeners. Lighter drinks are less likely to lead to severe hangovers.