Happy 2015! Aren’t you excited about a new year?
What’s that? Not feeling so good? Awesome party last night?
I know. It’s awful.
Back when I was a big drinker I had hangover rituals. None of them really worked well, with the exception of sleeping it off. But now there is an actual field of science dedicated to finding out what causes hangovers and how to prevent and treat them. Who knew?
What causes a hangover?
In a 2000 study “The Role of Acetaldehyde in Actions of Alcohol,” which was published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research study, researchers determined elevated acetaldehyde levels caused increased skin temperature, facial flushing, increased heart rate, lower blood pressure, dry mouth, nausea and headache. It’s strongly suspected that acetaldehyde is a main culprit of hangovers.
The levels of acetaldehyde rise after drinking alcohol, which is 10 to 30 times more toxic as compared to plain ethanol. A liver enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase, is responsible for this reaction.
But not everyone gets hangovers. It could be due to the variation in the activity of alcohol dehydrogenase. Conversely, in people who are more prone to get sick after drinking alcohol, alcohol dehydrogenase is usually hyperactive, which in turn depends on certain mutation in genes.
We all had that friend that was going to get sick before the night was over, right?
Nobody cares about what causes hangovers – get on with the hangover remedies!
First, consider a bit of prevention. It may be too late now, but next time, you’ll be ready. First, eat a good meal prior to drinking. Food helps slow the absorption of alcohol, and the longer it takes the alcohol to reach your blood stream, the longer it is until you become intoxicated. Also, hydrate prior to drinking, and consider a 1:1 ratio of water to alcoholic drink during your drinking session. The more water you drink beforehand, the better you will feel tomorrow.
First things first: get yourself hydrated.
Water is boring. Try sports drinks, coconut water, or decaf tea with honey. I’ve been told that Pedialyte is amazing, and even more amazing is the freezer pops. Something about the cold, I’m guessing. Suck on one of those while you put an ice pack on your head (seriously! something about it makes you feel better).
Eat light and stay hydrated, agrees John Brick, PhD, an alcohol research scientist and author of The Doctor’s Hangover Handbook. “No specific foods are recommended, although honey sandwiches are helpful to some people,” Brick says.
What’s with the honey?
Honey has potassium, an important mineral for replenishing the cells with water. It also has fructose, and “there is some evidence that fructose will help your body burn the alcohol faster,” according to the National Institute of Health. Hangover symptoms such as fatigue, mood disturbances, and physical weakness can all be attributed to lowered blood sugar, an effect of alcohol. Honey and other foods containing fructose can get that blood sugar back up.
Dehydration causes the headaches associated with hangovers
The pain from a headache comes from a mix of dehydration and your body’s adjustment to the rapidly dropping blood-alcohol level. Asprins before bed and upon waking says alcohol metabolism researcher James Schaefer, PhD, will help with the headache pain.
There is some evidence that soft drinks such as Sprite and 7-Up help metabolize acetaldehyde quickly. Drinks or foods with added taurine might help too. But stay away from caffeinated drinks, because they work against you with their dehydrating effects. Especially energy drinks. Those will NOT help your cause.
Don’t forget greasy foods
It’s actually not greasy foods that you should eat. One element of the traditional “greasy food” morning is eggs. This is because cysteine in eggs breaks down acetaldehyde in the body. Eating eggs the morning after could help remove the hangover-causing alcohol metobolite toxin from the body.
Also try soup, especially chicken, miso, or bouillon. The body expels essential salts that are needed for cell function after drinking and replenishing them makes you feel better.
Take a bath
Drinking water is not the only way to hydrate. Run a hot bath and add epsom salts and chill out for a half an hour. The water and salt will enter your body through your skin and ease dehydration symptoms. It’s also a great detox. Plus, it feels wonderful.
The last word
“There are a lot of myths about hangover cures,” says Ruth C. Engs, RN, EdD, a professor at Indiana University who has done extensive research on the effects of drinking. “Essentially there is no cure other than consuming water and liquids like juice (i.e., not spiked) in the morning.”
How do I look like I don’t have a hangover at all?
- Banish dull, dehydrated skin with Anti-Fatigue Absolute Radiance Cream by Orlane. It sweeps away surface fatigue with their Energesium complex with ginseng and ginkgo biloba. It re-energizes cells, stimulates micro-circulation, and encourages detoxification.
- Prime with NARS Pro-Prime Light Optimizing Primer Broad Spectrum SPF 15 to eradicate signs of dullness and fatigue. The light reflecting complex will help skin look hydrated and radiant.
- Use a powerful concealer. Cle de Peau Beaute’s Concealer is the best there is. Covers dark circles under the eyes like magic and lasts all day.
- Use a highlighter liberally, around the eyes, down the center of the nose, in the cupid’s bow, the divot in the chin, the brow bone under your brows, and the area between your brows. L’Oreal’s Magic Lumi Highlighter is a cost-effective pen that works just as well as pricier versions.
- Make your eyes look brighter and whiter by using a navy eyeliner. Neutrogena’s Nourishing Eye Liner in Twilight Blue works great with all skin tones.
- Use a bronzer lightly to put some color back in your skin. Day after skin is not only dull and lifeless, but it’s also pale or grayish, especially if there was smoke in the air. tarte has a great bronzer/highlighter product called park ave princess bronze & glow. This tube has a beautiful matte bronzer inside as well as a solid pinkish highlighter that works great as a blush. Use with a light hand.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."