Do hangovers really get worse as you age?
As we age, our body does not always produce the same amount of nutrients. This can cause us to take longer to recover. Our body is also slower to remove the toxins from our alcohol consumption so hangovers can be worse.
Why do you feel so dehydrated when you wake up?
Alcohol is dehydrating and usually contains a lot of sugar. So drink enough water!
This may be obvious, but it is still ignored by most drinkers. It can be helpful to have a large glass of water before starting on the alcohol, a glass between each alcoholic drink, and at least one large glass before going to bed.
To improve your hydration, it is ideal to drink water that contains extra electrolyte minerals such as potassium, sodium and magnesium – the minerals that are easily lost in sweat and urine and that are particularly important to have in the right balance in our cells and blood.
Natural coconut water is ideal for this, as it naturally contains a good balance of the electrolyte minerals.
Avoid sports drinks because although they do contain these minerals and are designed for improving hydration, they also contain sugar, which is bad news after alcohol consumption (see below under ‘What to avoid’ for why). Keep drinking water (or electrolyte/coconut water) the next day to re-hydrate.
What should you eat the next day?
Almost as important as knowing what to eat is knowing what to avoid to control symptoms and support your recovery.
First on the list are foods that contain high levels of unhealthy fats. These include fried foods, foods that contain hydrogenated fats (found mainly in margarines and processed foods), and poor quality, cheap cooking oils.
The liver has to work extra hard to process these types of fats, when it is already under strain dealing with the alcohol and its breakdown products. Unhealthy fats can also worsen any inflammation in the body, which can add to the effects of the inflammatory cytokines that (as we saw above) could contribute to hangover symptoms.
Next, sugary foods and refined carbohydrates – i.e. foods products made with white flour such as white bread, pastries and white pasta.
There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, these foods contain very little in the way of nutrients to replenish your stores, and actually use up more of the body’s nutrients to process them.
The second reason is that alcohol is the most refined sugar and plays havoc with the body’s blood sugar (glucose) levels, sending them sky high.
The body reacts by releasing lots of insulin to take the glucose into the cells, which can then cause blood sugar lows (hypoglycaemia) later or the next day, resulting in tiredness and weakness.
Eating sugary foods – or refined, white carbohydrates – simply perpetuates this cycle. Instead, concentrate on whole foods – especially protein-rich foods, vegetables and unrefined carbohydrates (e.g. brown rice, oats) as they are a much better choice to get you back on track and feeling normal again.
Avoid coffee. Coffee is a popular remedy to sober up and give energy after drinking, but it can also contribute to dehydration.
A far better alternative is coconut water or water with electrolyte concentrate added (as above) to aid recovery.
Avoid any other drugs or intoxicating substances, as they can make the effects of alcohol worse.
Even painkillers such as paracetamol or anti-inflammatories are best avoided: paracetamol has a known toxic effect on the liver, and anti-inflammatories can further irritate the stomach lining.
Filling yourself with nutrients from a healthy source such as this will always be helpful. We want to replace the nutrients which have become depleted by alcohol intake.
Are there any supplements that can help a hangover?
A supplement such as Bee Prepared Daily Defence (£9.99 for 20 capsules. Available from Holland & Barrett, Boots) can be useful for replacing nutrients lost from drinking.
Also, if you are feeling tired, try taking a natural; energy supplements such as Bee Energised (£9.99 for 20 capsules. Available from Holland & Barrett, Boots) which contains natural ingredients to help maintain a steady stream of energy, stamina, concentration levels and mental alertness.
It includes high quality organic bee pollen, organic matcha tea (rich in l-theanine), organic spirulina, Siberian ginseng, organic green tea leaf, androse hips along with Vitamin B6 & Vitamin B12.
Does exercise help with a hangover?
This is something that seems to vary from person to person. Some people find it beneficial while others don’t.
Alcohol slows brain activity and slows the release of endorphins which means that you can wake up tired and depressed.
Getting some exercise can help stimulate the release of these endorphins again which will help you recover and improve your mood. Remember that exercise can also dehydrate you more so make sure you drink water.
And hair of the dog? Does a Bloody Mary help?!
No! This just postpones the hangover. It may seem like a good idea at the time but don’t do it! You might be tempted by a Bloody Mary, and tomatoes are a good source of various nutrients such as vitamins C and A and beta-carotene.
They also contain lycopene which is an antioxidant. These nutrients all help the liver detoxify. Another important nutrient in tomatoes is glutathione which is a well-known liver helping nutrient – but pass on the vodka and make it a Virgin Mary!