We understand. Staying fit, healthy, and happy sometimes means enjoying more than one glass of red wine. Still, don't go reaching for the hair of the dog—there are healthier ways to wake up ready to get back on track. Here are 13 scientifically supported methods to help deal with that hangover, and possibly prevent it from happening in the first place.
1. Refuel at the breakfast table.
Alcohol will lead to a drop in blood sugar, so boost it back up with a glass of apple juice in the morning! Blood glucose level, alcohol heavy drinking, and alcohol craving during treatment for alcohol dependence: results from the Combined Pharmacotherapies and Behavioral Interventions for Alcohol Dependence (COMBINE) Study. Leggio L, Ray LA, Kenna GA. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research, 2009, May.;33(9):1530-0277. Fruit juices are a good way to treat mild low blood sugar, but if the situation feels dire then choose something with a high glycemic index, like darkhorse Rice Chex or a French baguette.
2. Go one for one.
It’s no secret that drinking water can help deflect that pounding a.m. headache (pretty much the opposite of a good morning). Tissues around the brain are mostly made of water, and dehydration will shrink these tissues, creating pressure in the head. Dehydration affects brain structure and function in healthy adolescents. Kempton MJ, Ettinger U, Foster R. Human brain mapping, 2011, Mar.;32(1):1097-0193. Alcohol can lead to dehydration, so make sure to continuously drink water throughout the night. Hydration status and the diuretic action of a small dose of alcohol. Hobson RM, Maughan RJ. Alcohol and alcoholism (Oxford, Oxfordshire), 2010, May.;45(4):1464-3502. Try matching each alcoholic drink with one glass of water to avoid that next-day pain.
3. Chow down.
No, just because beer has calories doesn’t mean it counts as dinner. Drinking on an empty stomach will allow alcohol to absorb faster, so try getting in a good meal with lots of healthy carbs before breaking out the bottle. Some research even shows a stomach full of food may help keep blood alcohol content at a lower level. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11762562
4. Keep it light.
Darker drinks like red wine or rum contain more congeners (substances produced during fermentation), which may contribute to causing hangovers. The alcohol hangover--a puzzling phenomenon. Verster JC. Alcohol and alcoholism (Oxford, Oxfordshire), 2008, Jan.;43(2):1464-3502. Intoxication with bourbon versus vodka: effects on hangover, sleep, and next-day neurocognitive performance in young adults. Rohsenow DJ, Howland J, Arnedt JT. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research, 2009, Dec.;34(3):1530-0277. Skip the whiskey in favor of vodka or a glass of white wine!
5. Stay classy.
The more expensive liquors are usually distilled more times, so contain fewer congeners—as we just learned, a cause for shaking-fist-at-the-sky action. So pass on the well liquor and take it up a notch with some top-shelf booze.
6. Take a multivitamin.
Drinking depletes nutrients in the body, including vitamin B12 and folate. Alcohol increases homocysteine and reduces B vitamin concentration in healthy male volunteers--a randomized, crossover intervention study. Gibson A, Woodside JV, Young IS. QJM : monthly journal of the Association of Physicians, 2008, Sep.;101(11):1460-2393. Try popping in a multivitamin to replenish what’s lost from a night of drinking.
7. Skip the bubbles.
Opt out of champagne or other alcohol that’s mixed with carbonated beverages—research shows that the bubbles may cause alcohol to be absorbed more quickly, hence that New Year’s Day hangover. Alcohol concentration and carbonation of drinks: the effect on blood alcohol levels. Roberts C, Robinson SP. Journal of forensic and legal medicine, 2007, May.;14(7):1752-928X.
8. Practice your downward dog.
Scientists have yet to prove that a few sun-salutations will whisk away a hangover, but breathing and meditation exercises in yoga can get oxygen flowing and blood pumping to help relieve stress, usually abundant when the world feels sideways. Namaste!
9. Grab some potassium.
10. Scramble eggs.
Eggs contain taurine, which has been shown to reverse liver damage caused by a night of heavy boozing. Effect of taurine on alcoholic liver disease in rats. Wu G, Yang J, Sun C. Advances in experimental medicine and biology, 2009, Mar.;643():0065-2598. Effects of dietary taurine on egg production, egg quality and cholesterol levels in Japanese quail. Wang FR, Dong XF, Zhang XM. Journal of the science of food and agriculture, 2011, Apr.;90(15):1097-0010. Scramble them up with lots of veggies for added antioxidant power!
11. Sip ginger tea.
Hangovers sometimes come with a side of upset stomach, so try a warm mug of ginger tea to settle things down. Ginger has been shown to help combat nausea. Effects of ginger on motion sickness and gastric slow-wave dysrhythmias induced by circular vection. Lien HC, Sun WM, Chen YH. American journal of physiology. Gastrointestinal and liver physiology, 2003, Mar.;284(3):0193-1857.
12. Get some fresh air.
Oxygen increases the rate that alcohol toxins are broken down, so bundle up and get outdoors. Overview: how is alcohol metabolized by the body? Zakhari S. Alcohol research & health : the journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2007, Oct.;29(4):1535-7414. A little exercise never hurt anyone—and it may even release some endorphins to boost that post-hangover mood. Differential effects of acute and regular physical exercise on cognition and affect. Hopkins ME, Davis FC, Vantieghem MR. Neuroscience, 2012, Apr.;215():1873-7544.
13. Play D.D.
We’re sorry to say that the only sure-fire way to avoid a hangover is to skip the booze altogether. Interventions for preventing or treating alcohol hangover: systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Pittler MH, Verster JC, Ernst E. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 2006, Jan.;331(7531):1756-1833. So if waking up to a pounding headache doesn’t sound fun, play designated driver for the night (even if not actually driving). At the very least, you'll have some great stories to tell.