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7 Evidence-Based Ways to Prevent Hangovers

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Jeanh, Sep 7, 2015.

  1. Drinking alcohol has its pros and cons.

    One of the worst things about it, is getting a hangover the morning after.

    As you may know, hangovers are the unpleasant after effects of Please or Register to view links intoxication.

    They strike hardest when alcohol has left the body, and are characterized by various dreadful symptoms ( Please or Register to view links).

    This includes headache, fatigue, thirst, dizziness, nausea and a loss of appetite.

    The severity of hangovers varies between individuals, but most people agree that they are highly unpleasant.

    Not surprisingly, all sorts of “hangover cures” exist, some of which are claimed to be highly effective. The evidence behind them is limited, and most haven’t even been studied ( Please or Register to view links).

    Even so, there are a few strategies that have shown some potential.

    Here are 7 evidence-based ways to prevent hangovers, or at least make them significantly less severe.

    1. Drink in Moderation, or Not at All
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    The severity of hangovers increases with the amount of alcohol consumed ( Please or Register to view links).

    For this reason, the best way to prevent hangovers is to drink in moderation (or to abstain completely).

    The amount of alcohol needed to produce a hangover varies between individuals.

    Some people need only 1 or 2 drinks, but most people need much more. About 23% of people simply do not appear to get hangovers, no matter how much they drink ( Please or Register to view links).

    That being said, moderation is not always a feasible option. Some people likedrinking, and are willing to do it despite knowing that they may regret it the morning after.

    Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to mitigate the damage.

    Bottom Line: The severity of hangovers is directly related to the amount of alcohol consumed. Drinking in moderation, or not at all, is the single best way to prevent a hangover.

    2. Avoid Drinks With Congeners, Toxic By-Products of Alcohol Production
    Ethanol is the main active ingredient in alcoholic drinks.

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    When ethanol (simply referred to as alcohol in this article) is produced by sugar-fermenting yeasts, side products called Please or Register to view links are formed as well ( Please or Register to view links).

    Congeners are toxic chemicals, other than ethanol itself, formed in small amounts when alcohol is produced. Well known congeners include methanol, isopentanol and acetone ( Please or Register to view links, Please or Register to view links).

    Alcoholic drinks with high amounts of congeners seem to increase the frequency and intensity of hangovers, compared to drinks that contain low amounts.

    Drinks high in congeners include whiskey, cognac, and tequila. Bourbon whiskey is exceptionally high in congeners.

    On the other hand, colorless drinks like vodka, gin and rum, contain low levels of congeners. In fact, vodka contains almost no congeners at all ( Please or Register to view links).

    Several studies have compared the effects of vodka (low in congeners) and whiskey (high in congeners). Both the frequency and intensity of hangovers were found to be greater after whiskey than vodka ( Please or Register to view links, Please or Register to view links, Please or Register to view links).

    Supporting this, two studies have found methanol, a common congener, to be strongly associated with hangover symptoms ( Please or Register to view links, Please or Register to view links).

    Bottom Line: The severity of hangovers can be significantly reduced by drinking clear beverages (low in congeners), such as vodka, gin or rum.

    3. Having a Drink The Morning After
    Treating a hangover by having another drink seems paradoxical.

    Yet, it is a famous hangover remedy, often referred to by the phrase “hair of the dog (that bit you)” ( Please or Register to view links).

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    Although the habit has not been proven to be effective, there is some interesting science behind it.

    Simply put, drinking more alcohol (ethanol) is believed to affect the metabolism of Please or Register to view links, a well-known congener found in trace amounts in some drinks.

    After drinking, methanol gets converted into Please or Register to view links, a highly toxic substance. This is believed to be partly responsible for many hangover symptoms ( Please or Register to view links, Please or Register to view links, Please or Register to view links).

    However, drinking ethanol (alcohol) the morning after can inhibit this conversion process, preventing formaldehyde from being formed ( Please or Register to view links, Please or Register to view links).

    Instead, the methanol can be discharged harmlessly from the body with breath and urine. This is why ethanol is often used to treat methanol poisoning ( Please or Register to view links).

    All of this being said, having another drink in the morning is strongly discouraged as a hangover remedy.

    It is often associated with problem drinking, and mitigating a few hangovers is not worth the risk of becoming an alcoholic.

    Bottom Line: Drinking more alcohol the next morning is a famous hangover remedy. This risky method has yet to be proven effective, but there is some interesting science behind it.

    4. Drink Plenty of Water
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    Alcohol is a Please or Register to view links, making you pee more than if you were drinking an equal amount of pure water ( Please or Register to view links, Please or Register to view links, Please or Register to view links).

    For this reason, alcohol can contribute to dehydration.

    Although dehydration is not considered to be the main cause of hangovers, it may contribute to symptoms like thirst, headache, fatigue and dry mouth.

    Fortunately, dehydration is very easy to avoid. Just make sure to Please or Register to view links.

    A good rule is to drink a glass of water (or another non-alcoholic beverage) between drinks, and to have at least one big glass of water before going to sleep.

    Bottom Line: Drinking plenty of water can help reduce some of the main symptoms of hangovers, including thirst and headache.

    5. Get Enough Sleep
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    Alcohol can interfere with your Please or Register to view links.

    It can impair both sleep quality and duration, while disrupting your entire sleep schedule if you stay up too late ( Please or Register to view links, Please or Register to view links).

    Although poor sleep doesn’t have much to do with most hangover symptoms, it may contribute to the fatigue and irritability often associated with hangovers.

    Getting plenty of sleep after heavy drinking can help your body recover.

    If you are unable to sleep in and take it easy the next day, then getting drunk may not be such a good idea.

    Bottom Line: Alcohol can impair the quality of your sleep. Make sure you have plenty of time to sleep in after a night of celebration.

    6. Eat a Hearty Breakfast
    Hangovers are sometimes associated with low levels of blood sugar, a condition known as Please or Register to view links ( Please or Register to view links).

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    Hangovers also tend to be more severe in those who have low blood sugar ( Please or Register to view links, Please or Register to view links).

    Although hypoglycemia is not a major cause of hangovers, it may contribute to some of the symptoms, such as weakness and headache ( Please or Register to view links).

    In addition to providing the necessary vitamins and minerals, having a nutritious breakfast or a late night meal might help maintain your blood sugar levels.

    Bottom Line: Eating a good breakfast is a renowned hangover remedy. It can help restore blood sugar levels, which mitigates some of the symptoms.

    7. Supplements That Can Help
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    Please or Register to view links is an important mechanism that helps the body repair tissue damage.

    Many hangover symptoms are thought to be caused by low-grade inflammation ( Please or Register to view links, Please or Register to view links).

    In fact, some anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to be quite effective against hangovers ( Please or Register to view links).

    Many plant-based foods and medicinal herbs may also reduce inflammation and help prevent hangovers.

    Supplements that have been shown to be effective include red ginseng ( Please or Register to view links), ginger ( Please or Register to view links) and prickly pear ( Please or Register to view links).

    Prickly pear is worthy of highlighting. This is the fruit of a cactus called Please or Register to view links, which is believed to be native to Mexico.

    In one study with 55 young and healthy individuals, taking prickly pear extract 5 hours before drinking reduced the risk of a severe hangover by 62% ( Please or Register to view links).

    Prickly pear extract is Please or Register to view links.

    Although it won’t completely prevent a hangover, it might significantly ease your suffering.
     
    Yamato Kurusawa and capslocked like this.
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