Christmas is almost upon us – a time of year when we all have waaaaay too much of all those things we know we shouldn’t. Sugar, refined carbs, things with scary sounding flavour enhancers, and of course, alcohol.
And where there’s alcohol, there’s hangovers. Hangovers have been around as long as people have been fermenting things, which is estimated to be around 9000 years. An ancient 3000-year-old Indian textbook on Verdic medicine, the Susruta Samhita, describes the handover in agonising detail, however disappointingly, it offers no cure. In fact in the entire 9000 year history of alcohol nobody has ever come up with a fix for the hangover. However there are a number of things that modern-day science says we can do to help reduce the severity of a hangover the next day. It’s all about being prepared…
The humble pear
A study conducted by the CSIRO in 2015 found that, when consumed ahead of time, the nutritional makeup of the humble pear can reduce the severity of hangovers. It’s not a hangover cure though – study participants drank pear juice before they drank alcohol, not after, and the next day reported less of the symptoms usually associated with hangovers than those who didn’t have the pear juice. So with a little pre-planning this might be one to try.
Another one that requires forward planning – Vitamin C helps the liver process alcohol more efficiently so taking the vitamin before a tipple might just help reduce the severity of the dreaded hangover. Don’t go overboard though – too much Vitamin C can lead to diarrhea! Almost as bad as the hangover itself!
According to gastroenterologist, Dr Nick Read, eating food with a high saturated fat content before opening that bottle of wine could help ward off a hangover. The doctor told the Daily Mail in 2013 that fatty foods slow down gastric emptying in the small intestine, meaning you won’t get drunk as fast as you would on a green leaf salad. Think butter, cream and pork crackling – shouldn’t be too hard to find this time of year.
A 2009 study published in the journal of food science found that asparagus, and in particular asparagus leaves, contained ‘potent cytoprotective properties’ that helped the liver break down alcohol faster. The quicker your body can expel alcohol, the better you’ll feel.
Plenty of water
No doubt you’re already familiar with this one but it bears repeating. Most people who enjoy a drink also know that alcohol is a diuretic and therefore dehydrating and it’s the dehydration that is one of the main causes of hangovers. So it stands to reason that if you drink plenty of water before, during and after a drinking session you body will handle the after-effects of a drinking session much better.
Stay with me on this one – while dehydration is one of main causes of the hangover, lack of sleep is another key player. Alcohol disrupts sleeping patterns and some of you may be familiar with the feeling of frustratedly starring at the ceiling at 2am wishing you hadn’t indulged in those few drinks the night before. Lack of quality sleep is the part of the hangover that leaves us feeling irritable, lethargic and unable to concentrate.
Several studies have shown that lifting weights or resistance training is extremely effective in helping people fall asleep and stay asleep naturally. So hitting the weights before a night on the turps may help you achieve a better night’s sleep – the theory is the sleep-inducing effect of the weight-lifting will help counteract the sleep-inhibiting effect of the alcohol. Better sleep = less hangover.