The summer season is almost upon us! Whether you fit into the category of jetting off to warmer climes for a well earned holiday, or settling into that comfy spot on the sofa for EURO football season, no doubt both scenarios will involve alcohol. In a culture where celebrations are often fuelled by alcohol, the summer months will leave many of us searching for a hangover cure to erase the negative effects of the previous night.
Here, at 121 Dietitian, we firmly believe prevention is better than the cure so our advice is to dilute your alcohol or intersperse it with soft drinks. By doing so, this will help avoid the effects of dehydration and drop in blood sugar levels which trigger the symptoms of a hangover.
We also recommend avoiding red wine as its congeners, the coloured chemicals, can result in an aching head. It’s also best advised to pace yourself and try to have fluids such as water, tea or orange juice before bed and when you waken up in the morning. Furthermore, if you can face food, eat!
With so many so-called hangover cures circulating the web, we’ve looked at the studies on each one in order to determine which one is actually the best. Here are our findings…
Caffeine is thought to raise energy levels while paracetamol relieves aches and pains. However, researchers at Temple University in Philadelphia have revealed that black coffee can worsen a hangover, while scientists at the University of Washington believe that taking paracetmaol as well can be deadly, as caffeine triples the amount of a toxic by-product created when paracetamol is broken down. This toxicity is the same substance responsible for liver damage when alcohol and paracetamol react together.
Available as a tablet or in liquid form, this is an abstract from the milk thistle plant and it is believed its properties aid the body in metabolising alcohol more quickly. Some studies have shown that silybin and silymarin, found in the plant, protect the liver from toxins as well as boasting the benefits of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, most of the studies surrounding this were carried out on alcoholics so there is really no proof of its effect in preventing or curing a hangover.
One our favouites by far, and one of the most widely recognised hangover prevent/cure techniques, drinking water with alcohol and before bed is believed to reduce the effects of a hangover by diluting some of the nasty by-products of alcohol.
The hangover choice for many, tradition dictates that bread soaks up alcohol from the night before, alleviating the effects of a hangover, and in fact, a study at Newcastle University’s Centre for Life has indeed confirmed that a bacon sandwich can offer relief. Rather than bread ‘soaking up’ the alcohol, it’s the carbohydrate laden effects which boost blood sugar levels, speeding up the body’s metabolism and the process at which the body gets rid of alcohol. Furthermore, rich in protein and amino acids, bacon reverses the effects of alcohol in depleting brain neurotransmitters. But be careful, as the saltiness may get you later.
The theory here is that the products contain tiny, easily digestible particles of carbohydrates which help the body to rehydrate faster than by drinking water. Leeds Metropolitan University have revealed that sports drinks are one of the best remedies for restoring blood sugar levels, and their calories can rehydrate the body up to 40% more effectively than water. But remember to monitor both your alcohol and isotonic sports drink intake as anything in excess is damaging.
Probably the last thing a lot of people would turn to in a hungover laden state, sweating off a hangover is thought to be a myth. Findings from a government survey revealed that exercise will simply compound your body’s fluid debt.
Many believe that having a drink the next day will ease the recovery process by diminishing the effects of alcohol withdrawal. However, rather than alleviating symptoms, another drink is just elongating the recovery process, lengthening the point at which you feel better.
While often eaten as part of a hangover fry, eggs are also consumed raw as they contain a substance called cysteine, which is believed the fight free radical damage to the body. However, if feeling queasy, eggs can be hard to stomach and watch for any bacterial contamination,
Taken before a night out in either tablet or pill form, prickly pear cactus is believed the reduce the likelihood of a hangover and in fact, research at Tulane University, New Orleans supports this. The test on 64 healthy medical students indicated that the extracts reduced three out of nine hangover symptoms – nausea, dry mouth and loss of appetite — and halved the risk of a severe hangover.
One of our least favourites, containing a concoction of aspirin, paracetamol and caffeine it is believed that Alka-Seltzer before heading to bed will leave you feeling revived and hangover-free in the morning. However, research at Leeds Metropolitan University revealed that while they can help a headache and neutralise excess stomach acid, the main benefits are probably from the effect of drinking the water that they are dissolved in, and aren’t recommended for sensitive stomachs.
Believed to help the liver process alcohol, there is conflicting findings on the effect of Artichoke extract. The journal Phytomedicine showed that a supplement of 400mg extract of artichoke leaf extract helped stomach problems, and there is anecdotal evidence that it reduces indigestion, an upset stomach and nausea. However, the Canadian Medical Association Journal believes it has no effect on a hangover.
A cure which we love, in theory, sleeping should be the best cure for a hangover, but many people find it hard to nod off, or keep waking up. This is a result of a chemical called acetaldehyde, produced as your body metabolises alcohol. The effects of this can leave you feeling hot and sweaty, increasing your heart rate and making you feel nauseous. This metabolism interferers with rapid eye-movement sleep which is why sleep quality is poor.
Information checked & correct on 16th May 2018.