Everyone knows prevention is better than cure and if you’re on this page, you are probably all too familiar with the hangover headache, nausea, fear, and general feeling of exhaustion.
I think you’ll agree, the days when a sit-down shower, a liter of water, and a cheeky fry up is no longer enough to help our abysmal hangovers.
In this article, we will cover 9 practical hangover prevention tips to help you dampen the blow.
1) Speed up alcohol breakdown by 80%!
First the bad news: say goodbye to the end of the night kebab stop.
Fatty foods and protein are difficult for your stomach to digest. After all, your stomach is in a delicate state after a night of drinking. The food will digest slowly and leave you feeling bloated for hours
Now the good news: Replace the cheesy chips with dried fruit.
Bear with me, this is not just a random health fad.
Research has shown that fructose can increase alcohol break down by up to 80%!(1)
First of all, what is fructose?
It’s the sugar that gives fruit its sweet taste and has been shown to help your liver process alcohol from your body at a much faster rate. It allows your liver enzymes to “recycle” and work more efficiently.
Dried fruit is particularly high in fructose levels. So replacing your end of night chip stop with a bowl of fruit can help get rid of the alcohol that’s in your system when the night is over.
What’s the point of being drunk while asleep anyway?
2) The lighter the colour, the better
Here’s something we can both agree on:
Red wine hangovers are worse than white wine hangovers:
And there’s a good reason for it!
Darker drinks contain more congeners. These are by-products which are produced from the process of alcohol fermentation. As a general rule, the darker the drink, the more congeners.
These bad boys are responsible for worse hangovers. This is partly why drinking even a few glasses of red wine or whisky can lead you feeling absolutely awful the next day.
Stick to lighter coloured drinks and spirits to reduce the overall burden of your hangovers.
3) How to stop feeling sick after drinking
Feeling sick when hungover is possibly the worst symptom of all.
First of all its important to understand why some of us feel sick after drinking to really tackle the problem.
1 – Stomach irritation: Alcohol is a toxin and directly damages the stomach lining causing it to become inflamed. As a result, your stomach is in a fragile state the day after a heavy night of drinking. Therefore even small amounts of fluid or food sitting in your stomach may cause you to feel nauseous and even vomit.
There are a few prescribed medicines which can help such as Cyclizine however these are only prescribed in hospital and GP’s won’t prescribe it for hangovers.
The only research-backed natural anti-sickness remedy is GINGER. Ginger has been used for centuries to settle upset stomachs and It is still prescribed by doctors as first-line treatment for pregnant women with morning sickness.(2)
2 – Electrolyte imbalance: Vomiting can be disruptive to the delicate salt balance in your body and can result in low levels of potassium, sodium, magnesium and phosphate. This balance is quickly restored once the vomiting resolves so there’s no need to replace these.
3 – Low blood sugar: Try sipping on sugary drinks to increase your blood sugar levels without irritating your stomach further.
4) The only REAL way to prevent a hangover without dispute
The symptoms of a hangover start when the concentration of alcohol starts to fall significantly and is at its peak when the blood alcohol concentration reaches 0.
Therefore having an alcoholic drink will replenish the dropping alcohol levels and DELAY the hangover symptoms from starting.
Also known as “the hair of the dog“, this method will only delay the inevitable hangover and is not recommended!
5) Why drinking coffee when hungover does more damage than good
Many people turn to coffee when hungover as a way of energising themselves after a big night out. However, this is most definitely not a good idea.
Let me explain:
Caffeine works by blocking the adenosine receptor in our brains. Adenosine is a molecule that our brain nerves use to slow the brain down and induce a sense calm. Caffeine blocks this and therefore makes your brain more alert.
In the short term, this may seem like the right thing to do as you as it’ll give you a short-lived boost.
However, alcohol causes your heart rate to increase. Try measuring your pulse the morning after a heavy night of drinking. It will be racing MUCH faster than your normal resting heart rate on a night where you’ve had a good nights sleep with no alcohol.
Drinking coffee will only speed up your heart rate which will make you feel worse and add to any shakes you may have.
Caffeine is also a diuretic meaning that it causes you to pee more fluid than you consume. This brings us nicely onto the next point…
6) How to hydrate yourself properly
Everyone knows that drinking water is key. Alcohol is a diuretic meaning that it makes you pee more than the fluid you’re consuming.
In fact, every gram of alcohol makes you pee an extra 10 millilitres. To put this into perspective, a pint of beer at 5% contains 26 grams of alcohol. So for every pint, you are losing around 280 millilitres extra of fluid.
This leads to dehydration and is one of the major reasons for your hangover symptoms.
To combat this, try having a small glass of water after every drink you have. It’s not easy to remember, but it will help a lot.
7) Why slowing down how fast alcohol is absorbed is SO important
Everyone knows not to eat on an empty stomach…but why?
Alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream from the stomach and small intestines. It doesn’t need to be broken down or processed by the liver which is very different from carbohydrates, protein and fat.
Therefore drinking on an empty stomach means that alcohol starts to build up in your bloodstream within 90 seconds of hitting your stomach. Add this to an empty stomach and you have a clear path to a quick and massive rise in alcohol concentration. Big rises in blood alcohol concentration are a major contributing factor to overall hangover severity.
The aim is to get the alcohol into your system slow and steady. This is achieved best by having a full stomach which will slow the rate at which alcohol is absorbed.
And it doesn’t matter what food is in your stomach by the way. There are loads of food myths out there such as “lining your stomach with milk”. However, milk is just a fluid that will leave your stomach quickly and leave your stomach empty again before you know it.
8) Stop the worst hangovers by adding this one trick:
Bold statement? Definitely
But stay with me.
What’s the big secret I’m talking about?
Antioxidants and Vitamins.
The breakdown of alcohol produces by-products known as “reactive oxygen species”
These are HIGHLY reactive molecules which damage the cells they come into contact.
our bodies have a sophisticated system in place which clear up these harmful by-products known as antioxidants. Drinking alcohol produces a big surge in reactive oxygen species and overwhelms our antioxidant systems. This explains why after a heavy night of drinking you feel so tired, lethargic and generally unwell.
Taking a multivitamin which includes Vitamin B, C and E can help support your body’s antioxidant systems. Make sure to take them BEFORE bed so they can work overnight.
It’s important to mention that it’s no magic fix, but it’s an additional step alongside all the other hangover prevention tips mentioned here.
9) Pace yourself
Having 5 pints in 10 hours or 5 pints in 4 hours is VERY different. How fast the concentration of alcohol rises in your bloodstream has a huge effect on hangover severity.
This is because your liver only has the capability of breaking down a certain amount of alcohol per hour. When you exceed this level (which happens after 1 drink) your alcohol levels start to rise and seep into your brain, which is why you feel drunk.
If you drink loads in a short period of time, this “backlog” of alcohol in your blood swoops around your body and damages the cells it comes into contact with.
So… if you’re planning to have a big session, spread the drinks out over a longer time period. You could even try using your phone timer to alert you every 45 minutes so you can keep track of the units.