Waking up with a hangover is everyone’s worst nightmare, but with New Year’s Eve merely days away it’s about to become reality for a lot of overzealous party animals. When these people do wake up with a pounding headache and nausea that just won’t quit, they’ll undoubtedly be searching for the Gatorade they thought they purchased last night before drinking water straight from the faucet.
Kanye recommends sunglasses and Advil, but what if you could turn back the clock and take steps to prevent the current state of misery you find yourself in?
While some partiers turn to unorthodox hangover treatment methods on New Year’s Day, such as Pedialite, over-the-counter pills, and even an actual IV drip, let’s try and take some preventative steps to stop this New Year’s hangover before it starts. After all, it is easier to prevent a hangover than it is to battle it on a Sunday morning when you’re not even trying to roll out of bed to charge your iPhone.
What Is A Hangover?
The term hangover refers to a variety of signs and symptoms that are a direct result of drinking too much alcohol and combine to make up some of the worst mornings of your life. It's caused by alcohol’s diuretic effect on the body and, of course, by diuretic effect, we mean it increases the body’s production of urine. This is why hangover prevention and treatment revolves around water and hydration.
Hydration Is Key
If you notice yourself urinating more after you start drinking, it's because of the alcohol consumption that's causing you to become dehydrated. Your body is telling you that you’re dehydrated through an unquenchable thirst, dizziness, and lightheadedness. Other sources of hydration, like Gatorade and coconut water, are all well and good when you’re in the full swing of a hangover, but stick with water before and during drinking time to cut down on sugar.
“I will avoid sugar and desserts as much as possible because sugar taxes the adrenal glands and the immune system,” Dr. Carolyn Dean, Medical Advisory Board Member - Nutritional Magnesium Association, told Medical Daily in an email. “When adrenal function is impaired or weak, a person may suffer from low blood sugar, low blood pressure, low body temperature, and a fatigue/exhaustion.”
Hydration may be key, but dehydration is not the only cause of a hangover. Factors such as inflammation and oxidative stress also play a role. As your immune system comes into contact with the alcohol coursing through your body, it correctly identifies it as a toxin and triggers an inflammatory response. Alcohol-induced oxidative stress is not only linked to the ethanol in alcohol being metabolized, but it also caused the depletion of antioxidants and glutathione (GSH) levels — something tied to more than 90 diseases, conditions, or complications.
Eat A Big Meal
Preventing a hangover is one of the only times it is recommended that you avoid healthy food and go right for fried and fatty foods. Clearly, this is not ideal for people looking to stay trim and fit for whatever ostentatious outfit they picked out for the night. However, if you’re more concerned about the crippling hangover that awaits anyone who drinks alcohol on an empty stomach, then go right ahead and fill up on a satisfying meal packed with macros (carbs, protein, and fat). This will smooth the transition as your body metabolizes all of those shots. Nothing absorbs alcohol quicker than an empty stomach.
Remember To Take Your Vitamins
As I’ve mentioned, hydration is key and vitamins are a great way to make sure your body is retaining all that water you’re drinking. Supplements containing magnesium, Milk Thistle, and vitamins B and C ensure that you retain some of the essential vitamins and minerals that you lose due to alcohol’s diuretic effect. They also help metabolize the carbs, protein, and fats you just got from the big meal you ate before drinking.
“Alcohol depletes a broad range of vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids, enzymes, proteins and minerals from your body. The kingpin to this depletion is magnesium, which is the anti-stress mineral that most people are deficient in. This mineral regulates 600-700 enzyme actions in the body,” Dean added. “Nutritional magnesium prevents platelet aggregation, which helps to avoid the thickened blood and tiny clots that can cause blood vessel spasms and the pain of a tension headache or hangover and can lessen the damage to the brain.”
Choose Your Drinks Wisely
The type of alcohol you choose this New Year’s Eve will affect how you’ll be feeling on New Year’s Day. So now that we’ve finally made it to the bar with a belly full of water, food, and vitamins, it’s time to choose your drink for the night, and I do mean one type of drink. Mixing different types of alcohol is a one-way ticket to being face down in the toilet bowl next morning. Consider making a few alterations to your drinking habits, including a juice mixer over soda, clear liquor over dark, and high-end over the cheap stuff. Oh, and I’m sorry, but the bubbles in that glass of champagne will only accelerate the absorption of alcohol.
Choosing the right type of alcohol comes down to congeners — byproducts of fermentation. The amount of congeners in an alcoholic beverage impact both the flavor of the alcohol and how big your hangover will be. Unsurprisingly, dark liquors, like whiskey, contain a larger concentration of congeners compared to clear liquors, like vodka. This, in addition to its high sugar content, is also why red wine nights often end in especially brutal hangovers.
More Water In Between Drinks And Before Bed
The best way to avoid a hangover is by not drinking at all. But let’s be honest, it’s New Year’s Eve and it’s been a long year, so it’s time to blow off a little steam. You’ve had a few glasses of water during the day leading up to the night’s festivities, but now’s not the time to stop. Sneaking a glass of water in between drinks will keep your body hydrated longer and it will help you consume less alcohol throughout the night.
Combine that with limiting yourself to one drink every hour and you should have a good time without going over the top, if you know what I mean. Lastly, drink one more glass of water before bed and keep another one by your bedside for either the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. Now go do something you haven’t been able to do the past couple of years: Walk outside on New Year’s Day.