We all know the horror of a hangover far too well. Sadly, the morning after the night before we always pay the price.
Whether it comes in the form of nausea, intense hunger, dizziness or abdominal pain – all you want is a quick fix to make it stop. Everyone seems to have a different idea of what those ‘quick fixes’ are – from a full breakfast to green tea – but the science behind what causes a hangover does give us some clues as to which foods and drinks may genuinely help ease our self-induced suffering.
We spoke to Elizabeth Wall, nutritionist at Holland & Barrett, to get her advice and some tips on rescue foods and drinks for every type of hangover.
1. If you have nausea
Alcohol can cause nausea for two main reasons. The first is that alcohol is a stomach irritant, and the second is that the liver can become overwhelmed when attempting to process more alcohol than it can handle at once. This results in the alcohol being metabolised insufficiently; the by-products of which result in nausea.
As nausea often causes a lack of appetite, the temptation is to avoid food. However, this will only make you feel worse. Sipping a light smoothie containing a small amount of protein is an ideal way to raise sustainable blood sugars, which will help you feel better.
The main point though is to stay hydrated. Herbal drinks will hydrate you and also calm your stomach, and if you do vomit they will help to replace any lost fluids. Chamomile tea is great for re-balancing your digestive secretions and for soothing the stomach.
We recommend: Clipper Chamomile Tea
2. If the room is spinning
Ginger’s anti-nausea effects make it useful for reducing dizziness – but don’t reach for the ginger beer. Most brands only have a tiny amount of natural ginger in them and offer no therapeutic benefits. Instead opt for cup of ginger tea or, if you are travelling, snack on crystallized ginger to counter act any stomach upsets.
We recommend: Yogi Tea Lemon Ginger Tea
3. If you’re worried about your liver
Overdone it? If it’s a one off, it’s unlikely that you will have significantly damaged your liver, but you can help alleviate liver damage from excess alcohol by taking Milk Thistle. This herb helps to limit the number of toxins that your liver process at any given time as it fortifies the liver and neutralises the alcohol in your system. Milk Thistle isn’t very soluble in water, so whilst you can get teas that contain the herb, its best to take a Milk Thistle capsule.
4. If you’re feeling hangry
The sugars in alcohol can cause the body to produce too much insulin. If you binge drink this can cause blood sugar levels to drop and leave you nursing both a pounding head and feelings of hunger.
Whilst you might feel like rolling out of bed and into the nearest fast food chain after a night out, the reality is that greasy, heavy food is the last thing your body needs when trying to re-cooperate.
Contrary to popular belief, food doesn’t help soak up excess alcohol, it just increases your metabolism. Many credit the bacon sandwich as the perfect hangover meal because bacon contains proteins that can be broken down into amino acids needed by the body. However, bacon can be very fatty, so a healthier option would be to get cracking and opt for eggs. In addition to being full of protein they contain cysteine, a chemical that helps to clean up toxins in the body. Another food high in protein and cysteine is sunflower seeds. Try snacking on these for an easy no-prep health boost.
We recommend: Sunflower Seeds
5. If your throat is dry
Ironically, after a night out drinking you’re likely to wake up feeling parched. Alcohol is a diuretic which means that it removes fluids from the body.
Drinking water, juice and non-caffeinated drinks can help replace lost fluids and clear your head, but drinking an orange juice is the best way to re-hydrate. This is because, in addition to giving blood sugar levels a much needed boost, oranges are a key source of vitamins A, B and C which support your immune system. Coconut water is naturally rich in vitamins, minerals and electrolytes and so is an ideal way to rehydrate, replace lost electrolytes and replenish the body with useful vitamins and minerals which may have been depleted by alcohol.
We recommend: Coconut Merchant Aqua Coco Active
There’s also a great range of supplements that condense all of your nutritional needs into one easy little capsule. These are great if you’re busy and on the move – such as at a festival or on holiday.
We recommend HangDr
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