Just because you’re on a journey to be healthy, doesn’t mean that you can never drink again. Drinking responsibly means you can still partake in a little fun with family and friends and keep to your goal of being healthy.
The funny thing is though, sometimes it seems like the cleaner your body is, the easier it is for you to get a hangover! Yeah, we hear ya! We’ve got you covered. Here are our tips on how to avoid a hangover.
Why we get hangovers
We don’t know 100% why hangovers happen, although the cause and mechanism of a hangover seem to involve several factors. Some suggest that a hangover is an early stage of alcohol withdrawal. Acetaldehyde, a breakdown product of alcohol metabolism, plays a role in producing hangover symptoms.
Here’s a quick breakdown by our expert Amanda Teh
Chemicals formed during alcohol processing and maturation known as congeners increase the frequency and severity of hangover. Liquors such as brandy, wine, tequila, whiskey and other dark liquors containing congeners tend to produce severe hangovers, whereas clear liquors (such as white rum, vodka, and gin) cause hangovers less frequently. As a rule of thumb, the darker a liquor's color, the more congeners it contains.
People experiencing hangovers show changes in the blood levels of several hormones, which are often responsible for some of the hangover symptoms. For example, alcohol inhibits antidiuretic hormone, which leads to excessive urination and dehydration. The most common symptoms are headache, fatigue and dehydration, and the least common is trembling. The severity and number of symptoms varies from person to person; however, it is generally true that the more alcohol a drinker consumes, the worse the hangover will be.
With that in mind, there are a few other factors that can make a hangover worse:
- Drinking on an empty stomach
- Lack of sleep
- Increased physical activity while drinking (dancing, for example)
- Dehydration before drinking
- Poor health
Right, so now we know the mechanics behind a hangover, here are some natural ways to avoid a hangover:
The only fool-proof way to avoid a hangover, of course, is not to drink alcohol.
But if that were the case, then we wouldn’t have to write this article (LOL).
In all seriousness though, from a scientific perspective, researchers have found the following minimizes the symptoms of a hangover.
Before you drink
- Eat a full meal - A full stomach slows down the absorption of alcohol, giving the body more time to process the toxins. Fatty foods and carbohydrates increase this effect. Having food in the stomach also decreases stomach irritation, in turn reducing the likelihood that a drinker will vomit.
- Drink a glass of water - This ensures the body is hydrated before the diuretic effect takes hold.
- Take multivitamins - This better prepares the body for the depletion of vitamins caused by frequent urination.
- Drink in moderation - Ideally, drinkers should limit themselves to one drink per hour because the body takes about an hour to process a single drink.
- Drink a glass of water after every alcoholic beverage - In addition to helping keep a drinker hydrated, this will give the body more time to process the alcohol, dilute the toxins and reduce irritation of the stomach. A sports drink like Gatorade or Propel will also replenish electrolytes, salts and sugars lost in the urine.
- Watch your drink choice - Beer has the lowest percentage of alcohol (4 to 6 percent), but it's also carbonated, which speeds up the absorption and can lead to toxin buildup. Wine has a higher percentage of alcohol (7 to 15 percent) than beer, but it's usually not carbonated. White wine is safer than red or rose because it has fewer congeners. In general, the cheaper the wine, the higher the congener content and the worse the hangover. Liquor has the highest alcohol content (40 to 95 percent) and therefore increases the likelihood of a hangover. Clear liquors like vodka, rum and gin are better bets than dark or sweet liquors like bourbon, scotch or tequila because they have fewer congeners. Generally, cheaper liquor will result in a worse hangover than more expensive liquor.
Hopefully these tips are all that you’ll need to avoid a hangover, but if you forget the above tips and do end up with a hangover, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Check out our tips on how to cure a hangover. Meanwhile, let us know what you do to avoid a hangover in the comments below! Have fun!