Healthy Hangover Helpers

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Most people celebrate the New Year with a few alcoholic drinks. Unfortunately, some people will over-indulge and may experience a hangover the next day. Hangover symptoms include headache, dizziness from dehydration and nausea due to irritation to the stomach lining. Alcohol consumption causes dehydration because it stimulates your body to produce more urine. Other symptoms include loss of memory, inability to concentrate and vomiting. You can find lots of so-called “home remedies” for a hangover, but in reality most home remedies are ineffective and may even make your symptoms worse. It is best to avoid a hangover completely by not drinking alcohol or to drink moderately.

Don’t drink coffee to help your hangover. Coffee can actually make your hangover worse because it contains a large amount of caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulate which increases your heart rate and can initially relieve a headache because it constricts the alcohol swollen blood vessels. However, once the caffeine wears off you will feel fatigued and your headache can return. Caffeine is also a diuretic which can exacerbate dehydration and make your symptoms worse.

Alcohol robs your body of potassium and electrolytes. Good foods to eat the morning after a night of drinking are kiwi and bananas. Both fruits are rich in potassium and electrolytes. A sports drink can also help relieve hangover symptoms. Eggs contain a substance called cysteine. Cysteine helps to cleanse your body of toxins that contribute to hangover symptoms. A breakfast of eggs, whole wheat toast, a banana and some orange juice can help your body recover quicker. Fruit juice or a fruit juice smoothie in the morning can help restore lost minerals, vitamins and electrolytes. Fruit juice also helps to cleanse your body of toxins.

The most important thing you can do to help prevent a hangover or to alleviate hangover symptoms is to drink water. Drinking water helps your liver and kidneys remove toxins produced by drinking. Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar to your glass of water to replace your body’s sodium and glycogen stores. Drinking a glass of water between alcoholic drinks is a good idea to prevent over-indulging and to keep you hydrated. A sports drink with electrolytes also helps.

For more information and treatment tips, see:

Mayo Clinic, Hangovers: Treatment and Drugs, 2011

WebMD, 12 Myths About Your Hangover, reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD, June 10, 2011

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