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7 Ways to Prevent Hangover (Backed by Science)

hangover
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I used to get really bad hangovers, until I figured some ways to avoid them. And now, I don’t get hungover. My friends usually say “Weh? That’s impossible.” Well, it isn’t. You CAN prevent hangover (of course aside from not drinking in the first place).



As you may know, hangovers are the unpleasant after effects of alcohol intoxication. They strike hardest when alcohol has left the body, and are characterized by various dreadful symptoms such as headache, fatigue, thirst, dizziness, nausea and a loss of appetite.

The severity of hangovers varies between individuals, but most people agree that they are highly unpleasant.

Here are 7 evidence-based ways to prevent hangovers, or at least make them significantly less severe.

1. Drink Plenty of Water

Alcohol is a diuretic, making you pee more than if you were drinking an equal amount of pure water (Source 1, Source 2, Source 3).

For this reason, alcohol can contribute to dehydration. Although dehydration is not considered to be the main cause of hangovers, it may contribute to symptoms like thirst, headache, fatigue and dry mouth.

Fortunately, dehydration is very easy to avoid. Just make sure to drink enough water. A good rule is to drink a glass of water (or another non-alcoholic beverage) between drinks, and to have at least one big glass of water before going to sleep. So, if I were you, I won’t prefer juice as ‘chaser’. I’d say, just water.

2. Get Enough Sleep

Make sure you have plenty of sleep before and after drinking (alcohol). Noticed that you easily get drunk when you are sleep-deprived? Yes. And alcohol can interfere with your sleep.

It can impair both sleep quality and duration, while disrupting your entire sleep schedule if you stay up too late.

Sleep deprivation may contribute to the fatigue and irritability often associated with hangovers. Getting plenty of sleep after heavy drinking can help your body recover.

If you are unable to sleep in and take it easy the next day, then getting drunk may not be such a good idea.



3. Eat a Hearty Breakfast

You tend to get drunk faster is you are hungry. Or, if you are low in blood sugar. Yes, hangovers are sometimes associated with low levels of blood sugar, a condition known as hypoglycemia.

Hangovers also tend to be more severe in those who have low blood sugar (Source 1, Source 2). Hypoglycemia may contribute to some of the symptoms, such as weakness and headache.

To cut it to the chase, other than providing the necessary vitamins and minerals, having a nutritious breakfast or a late night meal might help maintain your blood sugar levels. So, eat up.

4. Drink in Moderation, or Not at All

I’m not your mom, or your pop but if can, just don’t drink at all. Or, maybe, just a little. The severity of hangovers increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.

So, drink as much as you can, as long as you can tolerate the consequent pain and misery.

Some people need only 1 or 2 drinks, but most people need much more to get drunk. About 23% of people simply do not appear to get hangovers, no matter how much they drink (I’m one of the few I might say).



5. Avoid Drinks With Congeners, Toxic By-Products of Alcohol Production

Ethanol is the main active ingredient in alcoholic drinks. When ethanol (simply referred to as alcohol in this article) is produced by sugar-fermenting yeasts, side products called congeners are formed as well.

Congeners are toxic chemicals, other than ethanol itself, formed in small amounts when alcohol is produced. Congeners include methanol, isopentanol and acetone. They can increase the frequency and intensity of hangovers.

Drinks high in congeners include whiskey, cognac, and tequila. Bourbon whiskey is exceptionally high in congeners. On the other hand, colorless drinks like vodka, gin and rum, contain low levels of congeners. In fact, vodka contains almost no congeners at all.

Two studies have found methanol, a common congener, to be strongly associated with hangover symptoms (Study 1, Study 2).

6. Having a Drink The Morning After

Treating a hangover by having another drink seems counterintuitive and crazy. Yet, it is a famous hangover remedy, often referred to by the phrase “hair of the dog (that bit you)”.

Is this just simply crazy, or is this scientifically accurate? Well, there’s science behind it. Drinking more alcohol (ethanol) is believed to affect the metabolism of methanol, a well-known congener found in trace amounts in some drinks. After drinking, methanol gets converted into formaldehyde, a highly toxic substance. This is believed to be partly responsible for many hangover symptoms (Source 1, Source 2, Source 3).

However, drinking ethanol (alcohol) the morning after can inhibit this conversion process, preventing formaldehyde from being formed. Instead, the methanol can be discharged harmlessly from the body with breath and urine. This is why ethanol is often used to treat methanol poisoning.

BUT BUT BUT having another drink in the morning is strongly discouraged as a hangover remedy. Why? Because drinking the morning after is often associated with problem drinking, and mitigating a few hangovers is not worth the risk of becoming an alcoholic. So, yeah, while it works, don’t do it.



7. Supplements That Can Help

Many hangover symptoms are thought to be caused by low-grade inflammation. And some anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to be quite effective against hangovers.

Many plant-based foods and medicinal herbs may also reduce inflammation and help prevent hangovers. Supplements that have been shown to be effective include red ginseng, ginger and prickly pear

In one study with 55 young and healthy individuals, taking prickly pear extract 5 hours before drinking reduced the risk of a severe hangover by 62%.

A Word to the Wise

If you can take it not to drink alcohol at all, that would be great. But if you really need alcohol, or if it is a necessary evil in your work (e.g. lawyers, sales, and other marketing people say night-outs with their clients and alcohol are inevitable), do take care of yourself. Remember, the amount of pain you’ll suffer the morning after depends on the amount of alcohol you consume. You’re lucky if you belong to the 23% who seems to dodge hangover.

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