During the festive season some of us wake up to more than brightly wrapped gifts: the effects of overindulgence the night before.
With all the office parties and get-togethers with family and friends we haven’t seen in ages, it’s easy to throw caution to the wind – then end up paying the price with a thick head, dry mouth and general under-the-weather feeling the next day.
The best way to avoid a hangover is of course to watch how much you drink, not mix your drinks and make sure you take in enough water. But many of us go overboard from time to time and even if you don’t you might have a headache after a party.
A headache is the most common indication of a hangover and is simply the result of dehydration because of alcohol’s diuretic effect.
Your body dispatches its liquid reserves to dilute and eliminate the alcohol from your system and the result is your insides become dehydrated and your head hurts.
It’s not enough merely to drink plenty of water, says Ella Allred, a dietician at nutricentre.com. For best results you should take in water with added minerals and electrolytes, which control hydration.
If your symptoms are so bad that you feel depressed and severely nauseous, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor.
But here are a few things you can do, drink and eat to reduce the suffering.
A hangover is primarily a combination of dehydration, the effects of the toxins in the booze and the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. The latter is why many people believe in “hair of the dog” – drinking more to make you feel better. Unfortunately this merely postpones the inevitable.
Alcohol robs your body of liquid so it makes sense to drink a glass of water between drinks plus an extra glass before bedtime.
Dark drinks take a heavier toll, hence the bad reputation of red wine, rum and brandy. Light drinks don’t hit you quite as hard, but that doesn’t mean you can knock them back without being knocked you off your feet.
Pickles help with a hangover as the vinegar aids elimination of toxins from the liver, says Shona Wilkinson, chief nutritionist at nutricentre.com.
Exercise is probably the furthest from your mind at a time like this but working up a sweat definitely does the trick as it helps your body to rid itself of toxins.
Many people believe fatty food helps after a night of overindulgence but that’s not necessarily true. You’ll feel a lot better after downing a good dose of vitamins so fruit and vegetables are a better bet.
Anything rich in antioxidants will help your body to recover, so help yourself to strawberries and grapes.
Nuts, leafy vegetables and sweet potatoes are good too. If your stomach is too sensitive for a large meal, make sure you get at least something into your system – if you feed your body you’ll feel awake and more energetic.
Try a meal packed with carbs and protein – a baked potato with tuna could do the trick. You might prefer something sweet such as a fizzy cooldrink – particularly the “green ambulance” Cream Soda – but the energy spike will pass quickly and you’re likely to feel worse than before.
These foods could help your recovery too
Alcohol rids your body of essential nutrients including vitamin B, which can lead to anxiety and depression. Marmite is rich in vitamin B and should improve your mood. It’s also high in sodium so it will replace some of the salts you’ve lost.
Drinking can lower your blood sugar level, leaving you feeling faint and shaky the next day. Watermelon not only contains lots of fructose but also water, so it will boost your hydration at the same time. It contains other nutrients such as vitamins C and B and magnesium.
If drinking too much has left you feeling nauseous, ginger is the perfect antidote. You might not feel like eating it, so make a tea out of grated ginger and boiling water. Or enjoy ginger with fresh fruit or in fruit juice, or by nibbling on ginger biscuits.
They’re a popular morning-after meal and a good option. Eggs contain lots of protein, which raises your levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin and can reduce nausea. Eggs are also rich in the amino acid cysteine which combats alcohol-related toxins.
They’re packed with potassium and magnesium, two minerals prone to being depleted when you drink too much. A potassium deficiency can lead to nausea, numbness and fatigue. Bananas are also a natural antacid and will boost your energy if you have a busy day ahead.
It’s vital to rehydrate your body if you have a hangover, so turn to soup to meet your liquid and nutritional needs. It’s light on the digestion too – a bonus if you’re feeling nauseous.
This breakfast staple can replenish lots of nutrients lost to a night of partying, including vitamin B, magnesium, calcium and iron. It can also help to balance acidity, detox your liver and stabilise your blood sugar level.
If you can’t face the thought of eating something, a glass of fruit juice is your best option. It brings immediate relief and the fructose it contains will help your body to get rid of the alcohol in your bloodstream faster.
Stack them on toast for a great hangover remedy. They contain lots of minerals to restore your electrolyte balance plus omega-3 fatty acids to protect your liver and improve your mood.
Sources: Cover Media, lifeisazoobsicuit.com, health24.com