It’s the morning after the office Christmas party… your head is throbbing, your skin is clammy, your stomach feels sick and you can barely open your eyes, let alone think straight. Scientists use the medical term veisalgia for this baffling phenomenon known as, the hangover.
Most of your hangover symptoms are caused by dehydration, depleted electrolytes and the presence of toxic compounds as your body tries to metabolise all the booze you drank last night. Unfortunately there is no magic cure for a hangover – except not drinking, but here are a few things you can eat to make the day a little easier on yourself, and a few things you should avoid if you want to weather the hangover storm.
Do drink water
When the body and brain is dehydrated, it becomes stressed and can’t function properly. Water is an obvious one, but replacing lost fluids by drinking enough water throughout the day is going to help your body rehydrate and bring itself back to homeostasis.
Do eat a banana
Alcohol is a diuretic. Diuretics make you wee more and this loss of water causes dehydration and depletes you of important electrolytes like potassium and sodium. Low potassium levels can leave you feeling tired and nauseous. Bananas are high in potassium to replenish your body’s stores and alleviate these symptoms.
Do drink coconut water
Coconut water is the best way to replenish loss fluid and electrolytes as they’re essentially nature’s sports drink, containing five of the same electrolytes that are found in human blood.
Do eat watermelon
The headaches associated with hangovers are usually caused by dehydration and decreased blood flow to the brain. Watermelon contains the nutrient L-citrulline that may help to increase blood flow, is high in water to help you rehydrate and an excellent source or potassium and magnesium to replenish lost electrolytes.
Do eat eggs
Eggs are rich in the amino acid cysteine, which helps to break down the headache-causing acetaldehyde that’s produced when the liver breaks down alcohol. Cysteine is also what our body uses to produce its biggest antioxidant, glutathione, that’s needed to neutralise the free radicals and toxic by-products of alcohol metabolism.
Do drink herbal tea
If you’re feeling queasy the morning-after, try sipping on a herbal tea like peppermint or ginger, which studies have shown reduce nausea. Both are powerful antioxidants, which can aid the detoxification process, and digestive aids to relieve tension, bloating or upset stomachs associated with drinking too much (and perhaps eating that greasy kebab on the way home).
Do eat Vegemite toast
Vegemite toast is the ultimate Aussie hangover comfort food, and for good reason. Alcohol lowers your blood sugar levels leaving you feeling tired and irritable. A slow-burning carbohydrate like wholemeal toast can help to rebalance your blood sugar levels. Vegemite contains sodium, a lost electrolyte that needs replenishing, as well as essential B vitamins needed by the liver for detoxification.
Don't indulge in greasy food
While a greasy fry-up the morning after might seem like a good idea at the time, it will do little to ease your pain and may make you feel worse as fried foods irritate your stomach lining and cause heartburn. Tucking in to a decent meal before you start drinking may help to prevent your hangover by lining your stomach and reducing the amount of alcohol absorbed in to your stomach lining and bloodstream.
Don't reach for coffee
Having a coffee goes either way. It may perk you up a little but it won’t sober you up. Caffeine narrows your blood vessels and increases your blood pressure and as a mild-diuretic, it may actually make your hangover symptoms worse. However, if you are a regular coffee drinker, skipping your morning fix when you’re hungover could leave you with a caffeine-withdrawal headache on top of everything else. This one is your call.
Don't pound the paracetamol
Taking paracetamol after a big night out can send your already struggling liver into overdrive. Whilst your liver is busy metabolising alcohol – usually at the rate of 1 standard drink per hour – it can’t process paracetamol properly, and as a result produces toxic compounds that can cause liver inflammation and even permanent damage.