What’s the best way to cure a hangover? Eating a big meal before going out, avoiding the hair of the dog, and splurging on top-shelf liquors all help, but the best way to prevent that morning-after feeling (besides not drinking in the first place) is to stay hydrated all night long.
Typical hangover symptoms — including nausea, sensitivity to light, headache, achy muscles, diarrhea, and poor motor skills — are a direct result of dehydration. Simply stated, alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes you go pee more often than you usually would. According to Kate Geagan, RD, alcohol suppresses the release of ADH (antidiuretic hormone), the hormone that regulates how much urine we produce. All those trips to the bathroom strip H20 and electrolytes from the body, leaving you a sad, headachey pile of humanity the morning after a big night out. Plus, Geagan says, vomiting from overconsumption (an unpleasant side effect of one too many shots at the bar) can also contribute to dehydration.
Avoid spending the weekend in bed with a plate of eggs and a bottle of sports drink by staying hydrated while you’re out on the town — it’s as simple as drinking a glass of water between each gin and tonic or subbing out one ingredient for another in your favorite mixed drink. Take a look and start hydrating.
Water Works — Your Action Planfalse
1. Go one for one.
Since alcohol strips water from the body, an easy way to prevent dehydration is to keep the H20 flowing all night long Dehydration: a new alcohol theory. Klemm, W.R. Department of Veterinary Anatomy, Texas A&M University, Texas. Alcohol, 1990 Jan-Feb;7(1):49-59. Geagan advises alternating between an alcoholic beverage and a hydrating glass of water. As an added bonus, drinking plenty of agua at the bar will likely reduce the chance of waking up with a hangover. Our brain tissues are mostly made of water, so dehydration has the effect of shrinking the tissue, creating painful pressure (aka headaches).
2. Pregame with H20.
Make sure you’re hydrated before leaving home. Even drinking water between each boozy beverage will have little benefit if you’re starting out with an empty (water) tank.
3. Rethink your liquor choices.
Choose a beverage that includes at least some water. Water down a shot by asking for it on the rocks instead of straight. Whiskey drinkers: Consider ordering your beverage mixed with a bit of water — some whiskey experts believe adding water brings out the alcohol’s deeper flavors.
4. Snack like a champ.
Nope, we’re not talking about nachos and Buffalo wings. Instead of chowing down on sodium-filled, high-fat bar snacks, refresh yourself with hydrating fruits and veggies. "About 20 percent of our total hydration comes from foods we eat [rather than drinking water]," says Geagan. Watermelon, grapes, berries, cucumbers, celery, melon, and grapefruit all contain tons of water that can hydrate you nearly as much as a glass of water Contribution of fruit and vegetable intake to hydration status in schoolchildren. Montenegro-Bethancourt G, Johner SA, Remer T. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2013 Oct; 98(4):1103-12.! (That veggie plate is looking better and better…)
5. Just add water.
Many liquor-lovers like adding water to whiskey, but why stop there? Some sommeliers believe that adding a splash or two of water can improve the flavor of high-alcohol wines. Or act like a French child and add a few splashes of wine to a glass of regular tap water. It’s not quite the same as downing a glass of Bordeaux, but it’ll help keep those pearly whites clean and prevent dehydration.
6. Borrow from brunch.
With tomato juice, a celery stick as garnish, and plenty of ice, the Bloody Mary (a brunch staple) can actually help hydration more than it hinders it. The key is sticking with low-sodium tomato juice, since some brands (and especially commercial Bloody Mary mixes) are packed with salt, which will only make dehydration worse. Our suggestion? Make your own low-sodium Bloody Mary at home, where you can control the amount of salt.
7. Choose the right beer.
Is there such a thing as a beer that actually hydrates instead of dehydrates? Hold onto your hats — researchers at Griffith University’s Health Institute conducted a study by modifying ingredients in brewskies and testing how well they helped or hindered hydration Beer as a sports drink? Manipulating beer’s ingredients to replace lost fluid. Desbrow B, Murray D, Leveritt M. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2013 May 20.. The hydrating beer featured a lower alcohol content and added electrolytes. However, the beer (which they found to be about one-third more effective at hydrating drinkers than regular brews) isn’t commercially available yet (unfortunately). Until that great day arrives, improve hydration at the bar by choosing a lower-alcohol beer (just don’t compensate by drinking more of them).
8. Ask for a “water back”.
The pickleback (aka a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle brine) may be taking the bar scene by storm, but it won’t help prevent a dehydration-induced headache come morning. Taking shots of alcohol is rather polarizing — some people think they’re God’s gift to bar-goers, while others are convinced they’re dangerous (since alcohol doesn’t hit you until way after the booze has gone down the hatch, which can lead to alcohol poisoning) Differential alcohol expectancies based on type of alcoholic beverage consumed. Pedersen ER, Neighbors C, Larimer ME. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 2010 Nov; 71(6):925-9.. Regardless, many people choose to “chase” the unpleasant taste of shots away with a glass of juice, soda, or beer. Instead, follow each shot with a shot (or, even better, a glass) of water. Note that drinking water between shots won’t make you any less drunk, so drink responsibly.
9. Don’t forget the blender.
Do you like piña coladas? Good news — the tropical vacation mainstays can actually help out with hydration, depending on the recipe. If you’re working with coconut water, fresh fruit and herbs, and just a single shot of alcohol, all that ice can actually make blended beverages fairly hydrating. On the other hand, sugar-loaded drinks made from mixes with lots of artificial flavors and sweeteners will dry you out even more. So choose your drink carefully (and don’t forget the umbrella and fresh pineapple garnish!).
10. Bring tea-time to the bar.
As it turns out, decaffeinated tea is a tasty and hydrating base for all kinds of cocktails. Look for decaf green tea or herbal varieties like lemon zinger, ginger, or even peppermint to craft a one-of-a-kind beverage. Both iced and hot teas work well with a variety of liquors — ask what your bartender would recommend, or experiment with different combinations at home!
11. Opt for sparkling water (rather than tonic).
Get fancy by blending booze with carbonated water. Although club soda, seltzer, and mineral water are all slightly different, research suggests they can all hydrate just as well as still water Consumption of carbonated and noncarbonated sports drinks during prolonged treadmill exercise in the heat. Ryan AJ, Navarre AE, Gisolfi CV. International Journal of Sports Nutrition, 1991 Sep; 1(3):225-39. Drinking behavior and exercise-thermal stress: role of drink carbonation. Hickey MS, Costill DL, Trappe SW. International Journal of Sports Nutrition, 1994 Mar; 4(1);8-21.. "There have been several studies published in the Journal of Sports Nutrition that found sparkling water as effective as still for hydration — the caveat is that in some cases, the bubbles may cause you to drink less than you [normally] would," says Geagan. When choosing club soda, make sure to ask for a no-sodium variety. (All seltzer is naturally free of sodium, but club soda can contain a bit of the salty stuff.) Geagan recommends watching out for sneaky additives like sodium, sugar, and caffeine in club sodas.
12. Add some tropical flavor.
We don’t mean adding a shot or two of Malibu Coconut Rum. Choosing a cocktail made with coconut water can help on the hydration front, since the fruity beverage contains essential vitamins and minerals like potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and phosophorus Rehydration after exercise with fresh young coconut water, carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage and plain water. Saat, M., Singh, R., Sirisinghe, RG., et al. Department of Physiology, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia. Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Sciences, 2002, Mar 21, (2):93-104.. Geagan recommends the trendy beverage since it has less sugar and sodium, fewer calories, and more potassium than a sports drink or many mixers. It also boasts no artificial flavors or flavors. Coconut water has been proven to rehydrate as well as sports drinks, while also being lower in sugar and calories Rehydration with sodium-enriched coconut water after exercise-induced dehydration. Ismail, I., Singh, R., Sirisinghe, R.G., Sports Science Unit, School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kubang Kerian, Kelantan. Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health, 2007 Jul;38(4):769-85..
13. Get spritzy.
As previously explained, sodium-free club soda or is a great mixer for cocktails. Combine it with wine to make a refreshing spritzer, and add some ice to keep things cool.
14. Guzzle water.
Drink up before bed to prevent a hangover and rehydrate the bod after a night of debauchery. Downing a glass or two of plain old H20 before hitting the sack provides the body with fluids, which means that it won’t be grabbing water from the brain, causing a major morning-after headache.
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