With all the breakthrough studies on the heart-helping impact of moderate drinking, you may wonder what's being uncovered about helping to offset the pain of a hangover.
The research is ever evolving, but scientists have some tips on how to reduce that morning-after misery.
What causes a hangover (besides the obvious—too much alcohol)? According to Dr. Christine lay, a neurologist at The Headache Institute at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, alcohol affects the body in these ways…
- Blood vessels dilate, which may contribute to the throbbing headache.
- The liver's ability to produce glucose is impaired, which leaves you feeling weak and tired, clouds your thinking and makes you moody.
- It "fragments" sleep. Although alcohol is sedating and initially promotes sleep, it is often poor-quality sleep with frequent awakenings due to factors such as decreased rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
- The main byproduct of metabolized alcohol, acetaldehyde, is a toxin that can make your heart race and lead to headache, sweatiness, flushed skin, nausea and vomiting.
- It causes dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Alcohol promotes urination by inhibiting the release of the brain hormone that normally protects against dehydration. When dehydration is accompanied by sweating, vomiting or diarrhea, there is additional fluid and mineral loss leading to electrolyte imbalances. The result? Excessive thirst, lethargy, dizziness and light-headedness.
The first step in preventing problems caused by too much alcohol is to consume plenty of water—ideally, a full glass between each alcoholic drink. Dehydration is perhaps the most common cause of hangover symptoms.
“Those pounding headaches and everything else are related to the shriveling of the cells because they lose so much water," says Khursheed Navder, a registered dietitian and associate professor of nutrition and food science program at Hunter College.
So while you are drinking—and before going to bed—force yourself to drink water. If you forget to drink water before going to bed, then do it first thing in the morning,- she says. '"The sooner you replenish your fluid loss, the quicker you'll bounce back.
Exercise can help with hangover symptoms by boasting blood flow to the brain and inducing sweating, which helps the body purge alcohol, she said. Other tips…
- Eat soups to replace salt and potassium depleted by alcohol, and fruits and vegetables can help replenish lost nutrients.
- Take pain-relief medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium to reduce head-ache and muscle aches (as long as your stomach isn't upset). Antacids can help ease nausea and gastritis.
- All things considered, lighter-colored alcohol may reduce the severity of a hangover. That's because beverages such as vodka, gin and white wine have fewer congeners—a toxic byproduct of fermentation and aging—than darker-colored drinks such as whisky, brandy and red wine.
Price also matters: More expensive alcohol generally contains fewer congeners because it goes through a more rigorous distillation process that filters out more congeners.
Meat Eating Linked to Gout
In a study of more than 41,000 men, those who consumed the most meat (beef, poultry, pork and seafood) increased their risk for gout, a common form of inflammatory arthritis that often occurs in joints of the feet and ankles, by 41%.
Theory: Uric acid, which causes gout, is created in the body as meat is metabolized.
Self-defense: Limit your meat intake to four to five ounces daily.