Effective expert techniques for dealing with a hangover

There are things you can do before, during, and after drinking to assist reduce symptoms like weariness and headaches, even though a hangover cannot be cured. Picture from Pexels

There are things you can do before, during, and after drinking to assist reduce symptoms like weariness and headaches, even though a hangover cannot be cured. Picture from Pexels

Published Oct 16, 2023


Although they can appear in many different forms, hangovers are physically caused by consuming more alcohol than your liver can metabolise in one sitting.

Additionally, the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA), a national organisation founded in 1956, states that you run the chance of experiencing a hangover any time you consume alcohol to the point of drunkenness.

According to Healthline's research, that rate fluctuates based on several factors, but is commonly believed to be around one standard drink, which is 350 millilitres of beer, 150 millilitres of wine, or one shot of 80-proof liquor, every hour.

Although there aren't any scientifically proven treatments for hangovers, there are strategies to mitigate the damage.

After a night of excessive drinking, the pain that follows could differ from person to person and include headache, thirst, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and agitation.

The way that alcohol is metabolised by your body causes these symptoms. Some alcohol enters the bloodstream immediately via the stomach lining, in contrast to other foods and beverages.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention state that the remainder travels via the small intestine and into the liver, where enzymes degrade it. Acetaldehyde, a toxin that causes inflammation in the liver, pancreas, brain, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs, is one of the by-products of this process.

According to WebMD, drinking alcohol results in the brain and bloodstream to release inflammatory molecules, the effects of which might linger long after the alcohol has left your body.

The same substances that induce flu-like symptoms are also released during an infection.

This could be the reason behind common hangover symptoms like nausea, headaches, agitation, sensitivity to light and sound, and a general want to just stay in bed with the covers pulled up.

Given that alcohol causes inflammation in our bodies, it would make sense to combat the physiological consequences of alcohol by nourishing our bodies with anti-inflammatory foods.

Two such anti-inflammatory medicines that have been studied are zinc and niacin, generally known as vitamin B3.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, these nutrients are known to help with the quick removal of ethanol and acetaldehyde, two byproducts of alcohol metabolism.

Although the study was small - only 23 participants - it did find that individuals with higher dietary intakes of zinc and nicotinic acid (niacin) experienced less severe hangover symptoms than those with lower intakes.

Therefore, consuming a diet high in zinc-rich foods (lentils, beans, pork, shellfish, oyster tower, please!) or nicotinic acid-rich foods (fish, chicken, avocados, peanuts, whole grains, mushrooms) can't be harmful.

It was made popular by a recently hit TikTok video claiming eating asparagus will help you avoid getting a hangover. The assertion most likely resulted from research showing that minerals and amino acids in asparagus extract may shield liver cells from alcohol-related poisons.

However, it's crucial to remember that the study only examined asparagus extract on isolated human liver cells; therefore, a great deal more research is required to determine whether consuming asparagus would have the same benefits.

Experts point out that eating anything before consuming alcohol might slow down the quantity of alcohol that enters the system and possibly even lower it altogether, which can minimise effects.

Since foods that contain a combination of fats, proteins, and fibre are better at delaying the release of alcohol from the stomach, this would be your best bet.

It's a good idea to take a hangover preventative pill, and a 2020 study evaluated one. Again, according to “Everyday Health”, the study was limited, with only 19 males from Finland participating.

It was also sponsored by the firm that made the supplements, which included additional micronutrients, including the amino acid L-cysteine.

One of the byproducts of alcohol that can give you a hangover is acetaldehyde, which L-cysteine has been demonstrated to help inhibit.

The guys consumed alcohol for three hours before taking a placebo, 600 mg or 1,200 mg of L-cysteine. Compared to those who took a placebo, individuals who took the supplements reported feeling less queasy, anxious and hungover the following morning.

Experts are naturally dubious about these findings. More thorough testing, as well as a replication of the study by other researchers in various settings are required.

If you do use alcohol, you can minimise its after-effects by drinking carefully, eating prior to slowing down the absorption of alcohol in your stomach, and switching between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to be well hydrated.

Because alcohol is a diuretic, it promotes urination, which causes you to lose more fluid than usual. SANCA states that mild dehydration can cause hangover symptoms like lethargy, headaches, and thirst.

Your consumption habits with alcohol may also have an impact. There is proof that some individuals are sensitive to substances in various drinks other than alcohol. Sulfites, for example, are found in many wines and have been shown in studies to cause headaches.

A wine without sulfite could be beneficial. Similarly, congeners, which are molecules that raise the chance of hangovers, are more prevalent in dark spirits like bourbon.

According to the SANCA, staying with clear drinks like vodka might be beneficial in some situations.

There are several ways to lessen the intensity of hangovers. These include staying away from beverages that are high in congeners, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy breakfast.

However, the best defence against a hangover is to either drink little or not at all.