With the countdown to Christmas well under way, there’s no doubt our livers will take as much of a beating as our wallets as we get into the festive spirit.
Whether it be mulled wine at the Christmas markets, champagne at a work party or a few too many pints out at the pub, there’s a good chance most of us will spend the holidays waking up feeling like absolute shit.
Of course, the most effective way to avoid a hangover is to not drink at all, but because many would argue there’s no fun in that, we’ve dusted down our top 10 hangover cures to help you through the festive period.
“Feed the beast.”
Cocktail writer Emily Arden Wells, from Gastronomista, takes a ‘do whatever it takes’ approach when it comes to hangovers.
She told UNILAD:
Do what it takes to fix the problem: drink a lot of water, eat an egg and cheese sandwich, take some Advil, drink some coffee – feed the beast whatever it needs. I have also found that Kombucha helps relieve the affects of a rowdy night out on the town, so I always keep one or two stocked in the refrigerator.
Kombucha, for those who are lost, is an ancient Chinese tea better known as the ‘Immortal Health Elixir’, and it’s got tremendous health benefits. If nothing else, it wouldn’t hurt to try.
Back in 2013, Chinese researchers concluded that this fizzy drink could in fact be the Holy Grail of hangover cures. Out of 57 drinks tested, researchers found that only two drinks increased the speed of liver enzymes that reduce the amount of a toxic chemical produced when our bodies break down alcohol.
Turns out, Sprite reportedly reduces the first part of the alcohol-breakdown process and speeds up the second, more crucial process – giving you a shorter, more tolerable hangover.
Sweat it out.
Emily said: “The best cure, however, is sweating it out at the gym. It’s incredibly difficult to force myself to get to the gym after a long night out, but I always feel 1000 per cent better afterwards.”
While hitting the gym may not actually get rid of your hangover, it can make you feel a hell of a lot better. Because exercise releases a surge of neurochemicals and hormones – like endorphins, norepinepherine, and even adrenaline – they can boost your energy, mood, motivation, and pleasure. Even when you feel like you’re dying.
Forget the ‘Hair of the Dog’.
Unless you were already planning on getting sloshed two consecutive days in a row, you may want to forget this tip – it doesn’t actually work. Sure, it’ll provide a numbing affect and temporarily make you feel human again, but all you’re doing is prolonging the inevitable, and it will likely make your headache worse.
Experts also agree that using this trick increases the risk of alcohol abuse and dependency, so it’s best to leave this tip behind.
But while these post-drinking cures are all well and good, the best way to get rid of a hangover is to prevent it from happening in the first place.
The terrible all-day feeling you get after a night of drinking is caused by a combination of the toxic by-product of alcohol metabolism (acetaldehyde), dehydration, and Vitamin A, B (particularly B6) and C depletion. Knowing what causes it is the first step. After that, it should be pretty easy to try and prevent it.
Here’s what to do.
Choose clear alcohol and water-based mixers
Clear alcohols (like vodka and gin) have less hangover causing congeners – byproducts of fermentation in alcohol that contribute to the symptoms of a hangover – and water based mixers will lessen dehydration.
The greatest amounts of these toxins are found in red wine and dark liquors such as bourbon, brandy, whiskey and tequila. But white wines and clear liquors have fewer congeners and therefore cause less severe hangovers. In one study, 33 per cent of those who drank bourbon reported severe hangovers, compared to 3 per cent of those who drank the same amount of vodka.
Skip out on smoking while drinking
For some people, the two go together. But if you can help it, you may want to ditch the cigarettes while drinking.
When 113 college students documented their alcohol intake, smoking habits, and hangover symptoms every day for eight weeks, researchers found that when students drank heavily, smoking significantly increased the risk and severity of a hangover, according to a study published in the Journal on Studies of Alcohol and Drugs.
Line your stomach before drinking
What you eat after drinking doesn’t matter – it’s what you eat before all those tequila shots that can help lessen how utterly shit you feel the next day.
Food helps slow the absorption of alcohol, and the longer it takes for alcohol to reach your blood stream, the longer it takes until you become intoxicated. So when most people are eating burgers instead of salads before a night out, they’re on the right track.
Fat sticks to the stomach lining longer and absorbs more alcohol, and while that won’t prevent a hangover, the main idea is to put volume in your stomach that will dilute the effects of alcohol, and in turn, the hangover. So be sure to eat something.
Choose drinks that contain Vitamin B6
Bananas contain Vitamin B6 and B12, which are known to help reduce hangovers. They’re also high in Potassium, which is depleted from alcohol consumption. So choosing a drink like a Funky Monkey, Choco-Banana Tini or Strawberry Banana Colada may help lessen your morning-after hangover.
Alternate between alcohol and a glass of water.
Madeline Puckette from Wine Folly says in order to keep the morning-after beast away, she recommends drinking a glass of water with every glass of wine (or any other alcoholic beverage, for that matter). She told UNILAD: “It will actually force you to become conscious of your drinking.”
She also recommends against mixing drinks and spirits.
In the end, you’re a grown adult, you know how to drink responsibly. But just in case you forgot: Limit your drinks to about one every hour. Your body metabolizes each beer (or shot or wine) in about 60 minutes. Drink faster, and you risk a hangover.
If all else fails, the moment where headaches and nausea are most likely to set in is at 9:35am, with the typical British hangover reportedly lasting nine hours and 45 minutes, so you may want to just pull out some Advil, a pair of sunglasses and hope for the best.