Going out tomorrow night? Ringing in the New Year with family, friends, and festivities? Much of those festivities will more than likely involve champagne and alcohol of some sort. New Year’s Eve is in fact the most popular drinking day of the year, followed by Christmas and not far behind is Thanksgiving. That’s a whole lot of alcohol in two short months. Cheers!
But, as we celebrate saying good-bye to 2016 and hello to 2017, we may also have one , or two or three or four, drinks too many and will regret doing so come Sunday when we wake up with a doozy of a hangover. Growing up, I had a friend who had a Bassett Hound named Hangover, which today is so funny to me, but real hangovers are anything but funny and in a word, blow. So, how best can you avoid one this go round?
Water’s Your Friend
Naturally the best way to avoid waking up with an aching head and queasy tummy is to drink less alcohol. But, it’s New Year’s Eve you say, so maybe the question should be, what’s the best realistic way to avoid a hangover? Well, I’m here to help my friends.
First of all, eat before going out and eat something hearty. Having food in your stomach will slow the rate alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream according to Dr. Keri Peterson who was interviewed by “Good Housekeeping” magazine. Peterson also recommends drinking a glass of water between every alcoholic beverage you down, which will help prevent an electrolyte imbalance that is responsible for a hangover’s worst symptoms.
Other than that, it’s all about portion control and self-control. Unless they’re your favorites, avoid dark liquors like whiskey, as they are thought to contain more “hangover causing” toxins than lighter drinks and, as hard as it might be, especially on New Year’s Eve, you might also consider skipping the bubbly. The bubbles in champagne help your body absorb alcohol faster, causing higher alcohol levels and possibly leading to increased chances of a hangover.
Hair of the Dog?
So, you eat before, you drink water, and you avoid shots of whiskey but you still wake up with a hangover. What gives and what next? Sadly, there are no magic cures and most wives tales are just that: tall tales.
First of all, continue to hydrate. Your body aches and it needs hydration, which all that alcohol (and possible vomiting) decreased. After that, the best cure? Sleep! Yep, if you can, sleep as much as possible. But, what if you don’t have the luxury of sleeping in?
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. And hydrate more. Most experts believe that dehydration caused by heavy drinking is what leads to a hangover so it only makes sense to add hydration back into your bruised and battered body. Water, juice, and sports drinks like Gatorade that contain water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes are your best bets.
After hydrating, nutrition is probably most important. But, unlike many a popular myths, a greasy meal is not what you should go for. Instead, start with some easy-to-digest food like toast or cereal. There are also countless claims that honey sandwiches work wonders, but whatever you do, concentrate on getting calories back into your system and not on counting calories or carbs.
If you’re a regular coffee drinker, grab a cup of java but not for reasons you might think. The caffeine in coffee actually narrows your blood vessels and increases blood pressure, both of which make hangovers worse but if you normally have coffee in the morning, avoiding it will only add a caffeine headache to your already pounding head. Start the Keurig and possibly start the healing.
Once you have something in your stomach, anti-inflammatory pain relievers may help some of your symptoms. Think ibuprofen or naproxen. A small amount of GENTLE exercise may provide some relief too, but avoid anything that requires a lot of nutrition or that will decrease your already dehydrated state. Many also reach for Alka Seltzer. The famous plop-plop-fizz-fizz is full of bicarbonate or baking soda, which may soothe your aching belly, but the aspirin and citric acid in it may do just the opposite.
Something that won’t help is the old “hair of the dog.” Yes, that early morning Bloody Mary may trick you into thinking it’s cured your hangover but it’s really only a temporary fix and may actually make things worse in the hours ahead. Your body may in fact be suffering from alcohol withdrawal so adding more to it is not the answer.
Personally I would think about going into one of my favorite places, a sauna, in hopes of sweating out all those toxins but don’t do it! In fact, the last thing you need is to cause dangerous blood vessel and blood flow changes in your weakened system, which the extreme heat of a sauna could do.
There are pills that purport to help you avoid getting a hangover and others that claim to cure a hangover, but most do so with questionable results. There are also multivitamins for drinkers that contain ingredients thought to replenish nutrients alcohol diminishes but they probably won’t cure a wicked hangover. Then there’s milk thistle, the herbal supplement many swear by and which studies show helps support liver function. I guess it couldn’t hurt.
Lastly, a current trend is something a little more extreme: IV drips. Voluntary intravenous drips. Insanity! Not happening! But, think back. Think back to the misery you felt suffering from a hangover. Wouldn’t you do anything to relieve your aches and pains? Okay, tell me more.
The normal, everyday drips are filled with somewhat obvious things like ibuprofen and anti-nausea supplements in addition to B12 and B complex, vitamin C, and something called glutathione. Okay, tell me what all that means.
B vitamins are depleted by alcohol and at the same time, they protect your nervous system. (One reason heavy drinkers often exhibit mood swings and suffer anxiety and depression.) Getting a boost of them in an IV may speed-up your hangover recovery and help you feel energized and revitalized. Vitamin C supports your body’s immune functions while glutathione is thought to detoxify the liver and is an effective antioxidant. So, more glutathione in your body the more you can drink? That explains it!
Year by year, you don’t seem to be able to drink as much as you used to, right? In college you may have been the life of the party but by your 40s you’re more often the party pooper. This is in part because your body produces less glutathione as you age. Bingo!
These on-demand infusions may also contain electrolytes and other vitamins to ease hangover symptoms but they aren’t cheap. Averaging $200 a pop…or poke…iv hangover drips are gaining popularity and are often administered by doctors or nurses themselves. In fact, one group of ER physicians now have permanent residency at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. Shocker.
So party on tomorrow night but party smart. Drink that water, don’t drink and drive, and wake up in 2017 with a smile, not a hangover!