As we come up to the holiday season, lots of us will be celebrating with our friends and family with a few drinks. A few drinks can turn into many drinks. And we all know too well what this ends in – bad hangovers.
With so many hangover cure myths out there, it’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t. Below we’ve listed some key things to know about hangovers so that you can navigate through the festivities with less hangover-related pain.
1. Dehydration is not the only cause
Most people think that dehydration is the only cause of a hangover. But although it’s certainly a factor, it’s definitely not the only cause. That’s why drinking loads of water helps but doesn’t solve the issue. Otherwise, the quest for the elusive hangover cure would have been over a long time ago.(1)
The reason is, hangovers are caused by several factors including:
- inflammation – toxic waste products such as acetaldehyde react with your cells
- sleep disturbance – alcohol blocks REM sleep
- Hormonal imbalance – disrupts cortisol and insulin levels
- Gastrointestinal side effects – toxic effects of alcohol on stomach lining causing nausea and excess acid production
- Dehydration – Alcohol blocks the release of vasopressin which is responsible for water regulation
So it’s a lot more complicated than “just dehydration”.
2. Caffeine will not help
A lot of people reach for a cup of coffee when hungover in the morning. But this is actually counterintuitive.
The reason is, caffeine is a diuretic just like alcohol. In other words, it exacerbates dehydration because it makes you produce more urine.
Furthermore, caffeine is a stimulant. So although it will make you feel more awake, it’ll also make you feel more anxious and on edge.
3. Mixing drinks isn’t necessarily the problem
Believe it or not, it doesn’t matter so much if you mix your drinks. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually the type of alcohol that matters. Darker drinks are well-known to cause worse hangovers. That’s because they contain high amounts of congeners.
Congeners are biologically active compounds that are produced from the manufacturing process of alcohol such as wine, whiskey, and rum to name a few. They are responsible for the flavor and smell of these drinks. But unfortunately, they also make hangovers more severe.
4. It doesn’t matter what you eat
Every hangover cure guide will tell you to have a greasy big breakfast when hungover. But there’s no real scientific reason for it apart from cravings.
In reality, anything you eat should help restore sugar levels. particularly carbohydrates like pasta and rice. There are some foods that are naturally harder to digest like red meat and salads which you may want to avoid.
If you’re feeling nauseous, don’t force it. Even a sugary drink like your favorite squash is enough to boost sugar levels.
5. Taking preventative steps is key
We all know that prevention is better than cure. The same goes for hangovers. That’s why taking all the right steps before you actually wake up with a hangover is key.
Aside from drinking plenty of water and getting enough rest, adding a hangover pill to your recovery regimen can also support recovery. Hangover supplements are becoming quite popular as an additional recovery aide and are packed with antioxidants. They aren’t magic cures, but they may reduce the severity of your hangovers.
Hangover facts – Final words
Ultimately, hangovers are caused by drinking too much alcohol and the best thing you can do is drink less. It’s obviously harder said than done. Especially as we approach Christmas and New year.
Aside from drinking less, the best things you can do are to drink a glass of water between every drink, eat before going out and avoid dark-colored drinks if you can.