For those of us unfortunate enough to know, a hangover is recognised by unmistakable symptoms such as your mouth tasting like sandpaper, sensitivity to sound and light, lethargy, a protesting tummy, nausea, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, impaired motor function and a general feeling of misery.
WHY HANGOVERS HAPPEN
One of the main parties responsible for the dreaded hangover are substances called congeners. These are produced during the processes of fermentation and distillation.
These byproducts include acetone, acetaldehyde, tannins and certain flavourings. Some alcoholic drinks — such as red wine, champagne and bourbon — have more congeners. White wine has fewer and vodka has the lowest level of congeners.
Ethanol in the alcoholic drink contributes to hangovers. It dehydrates the body, leading to symptoms like a dry mouth and headaches. Also, when large amounts of alcohol are consumed, the metabolic disturbances that happen in the brain cause brain hypoglycaemia, or low sugar. This state leads to difficulty concentrating, mood changes and impaired motor function.
Not only does alcohol inflict all this, it also inhibits our bodies from absorbing and using critical vitamins and minerals such as vitamins B1 and B2, folic acid and zinc. Vitamin B1, for example, is essential for the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and the formation of haemoglobin. Zinc is fundamental to the body’s energy metabolic processes. So when the body’s zinc stores are depleted by alcohol, and the lack of vitamin B1 affects its ability to convert food into energy, fatigue results.
PREVENTING A HANGOVER BEFORE THE PARTY
Vitamin B complex
Alcohol guzzles the B vitamins, especially B1, which is also known as thiamine. On the day you’ll be drinking, take vitamin B complex and a separate dose of thiamine. This combo will act as a preventive for some of the mental degradation that comes with drinking, such as difficulty concentrating.
Lay on the fat
The folk remedy of eating a teaspoon of olive oil or butter before a party really works. The layer of fat coating the stomach and intestines slows down alcohol absorption. Eating a pizza or other fatty food works, too.
To head off brain hypoglycaemia the next morning, drink a fruit juice that’s high in fructose (fruit sugar) when you get home after partying. The fructose works to metabolise the alcohol chemicals that create hangover symptoms.
DO THESE THE MORNING AFTER
Complex carb breakfast
The typical low blood sugar that follows a night of hard drinking can be remedied. Instead of reaching for comfort foods such as white bread, doughnuts or sugary cereals, make sure your breakfast includes complex carbohydrates: whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruit.
The fibre in these foods will stabilise your blood sugar levels and feed your brain and body more consistently over a longer period of time. Stay away from all sugars, including corn syrup, fruit juices, and refined carbohydrates such as white bread and white rice noodles: these will cause a spike in your blood sugar levels, which will only set you up for a spectacular crash soon after.
The seeds of this prickly plant, which is related to the daisy, are tiny packs of powerful antioxidants. Milk thistle (sometimes called silymarin or silybum) stimulates the liver cells to regenerate. The liver takes a beating after a bout of drinking, and a dose of milk thistle (which is available in capsules) will help heal some of the damage inflicted on the liver and prevent further damage.
Drinking heaps of water is fundamental to flushing out toxins. Add a pinch of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt into every glass of water you drink to replace lost minerals. The salt, combined with the water, will reduce much of the symptoms.
Hungover? Drink This!
Throw the following ingredients into a juicer for a pick-me-up from a hangover:
- 2 sticks of celery
- 1 beetroot
- 1 green apple
- 1 carrot
- 1 cup kale
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 orange or half a lemon
Here’s why this drink should work:
Green leafy vegetables, green apples and carrots are deeply cleansing for toxins in the digestive system; they also give the brain and circulatory system a boost. Beetroot is a great detoxifier that also cleanses the liver. Celery is a powerhouse of calcium and magnesium, both of which help to relieve headaches and irritability.