Hangover: advice to avoid and limit it

You enjoy beer, cocktails or bubbles with friends, but before you know it, night turns to day, and you wake up with a terrible hangover. A few tips can help you limit the breakage and the feeling that a herd of bison has just run under your scalp.

About 76% of adults who drink alcohol experience hangover symptoms after a night out, according to a study published in the scientific journal Addiction in 2008.

The most common hangover symptoms include: fatigue, dehydration, headache, muscle aches, dizziness, tremors, faster heartbeat, and upset stomach.

A hangover is caused by an immune system reaction and an inflammatory response orchestrated by the central nervous system when the blood alcohol concentration eventually returns to zero. Returning to no alcohol in the body is when hangover symptoms are at their highest. So much for the science behind the process, but then what can be done to prevent and treat a hangover? Not surprisingly, drinking a large volume of alcohol is a clear indicator of hangover risk. Of course, the best way to deal with a hangover is to not drink, or to drink in moderation and to be aware of the risks of heavy alcohol consumption.

The type of alcohol consumed can, at the margin, have an effect

Some studies suggest that the type of alcohol you drink may influence the severity of your hangover, albeit slightly, according to a small study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research in 2009.

Compounds associated with the fermentation of alcohol, called congeners, substances derived from alcoholic fermentation or added during the manufacturing process are linked to increased hangover symptoms. They are found in greater quantities in brown spirits, such as bourbon and whiskey, than in white spirits, such as vodka or beer. So a dark alcoholic drink could lead to a harder hangover.

Food advice to limit the hangover and its effects

For starters, be mindful of what you eat and drink before or during a night out. You probably also know that experts recommend not drinking on an empty stomach, which aggravates hangover symptoms.

Food helps slow down the rate at which your body absorbs alcohol. Eating can provide you with some extra electrolytes and fluids, which will add to your hydration levels, dilute the alcohol concentration, and lessen the hangover.

Additionally, alcohol depletes key vitamins and minerals in your body and can interfere with your body’s absorption of certain nutrients. Alcohol is linked in some studies to lower levels of vitamin A, B vitamins, zinc, potassium and other key nutrients. But eating the right foods can play a role in replacing them before a drunken night out.

Vitamin A can be found in eggs, meat, fish, and orange and yellow colored vegetables, such as sweet potatoes. Proteins, such as chicken or fish, contain B vitamins. Asparagus is rich in zinc and a B vitamin called folate. Animal protein is a good source of zinc, along with nuts, whole grains, and beans. Avocados or bananas can provide an extra boost of potassium.

It is also important to stay hydrated. If you wake up with a hangover, drink generous amounts of water right away. It is also recommended to drink a glass of water between alcoholic drinks to prevent a hangover. In turn, this can help you drink less alcohol and decrease dehydration.

Quick fixes don’t work

“Having a glass of pastis when you wake up eliminates the hangover” we sometimes hear. True and false, taking alcohol again, the drink will temporarily delay the hangover, but when the alcohol level returns to zero again, the body will react even harsher. Mixtures based on raw eggs, peppers or other “miracle recipes” have never been proven. Importantly, drugs don’t work either, experts even warn against taking acetaminophen-containing drugs, such as Tylenol, which can cause liver damage when combined with alcohol.

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For the record, a healthy person eliminates an average of 0.10 g of alcohol per hour. This means that beyond three drinks for a man and two for a woman, it takes an hour to eliminate each drink consumed. The only real keys to avoiding and limiting the effects of wood warfare are moderation, hydration and diet.




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