If you're planning on a big night out for New Year's Eve, here are five hangover helpers that can really help you avoid getting a hangover or may help you recover from one faster.
Google "Hangover Helper," and you'll get some 814,000 results, most of which will provide little -- if any -- help. A scientific review of the most popular Internet hangover "cures" published in BMJ reported that pills, powders and weird foods (e.g., Vegemite, pickled herring) lack scientific evidence that they work.
About three-quarters of drinkers will experience at least one hangover. A sobering fact is that abstinence is the only way to guarantee that you won't get the dreaded morning-after headache, nausea, dry mouth, dizziness and fatigue. And, aside from dialysis, there's not much you can do to make it quickly go away.
If you're planning a big night out this New Year's Eve, here are five ways to help avoid a hangover... and what to do if you should have one too many and feel a bit woozy the morning after.
• Stay hydrated... then rehydrate
Alcohol acts as a diuretic, so to help prevent a hangover, staying hydrated is key. Drink water, water and more water whenever you're drinking alcohol.
If your mouth feels like the Sahara when you wake up, rehydrate with liquids that provide electrolytes to get blood volume levels elevated more quickly than water alone. Try sports drinks, broth-based soups, fruit or vegetable juices, fruit smoothies, Pedialyte or coconut water.• Choose your drinks wisely
While all types of alcohol can lead to a hangover, darker drinks like red wine, whiskey, bourbon and brandy contain congeners that make hangovers more severe. Choose white wine and clear spirits instead. It has also been found that mixing hard liquor with fruit or vegetable juices may provide some protection possibly by providing fructose and glucose. Fructose, which is the main sugar in fruits, vegetables, honey and agave, has been linked with speedier metabolism of alcohol, which can reduce hangover risk. In addition, alcohol lowers blood sugar levels, so eating simple carbs helps return blood sugar levels to normal.
• Take an aspirin or ibuprofen
An aspirin or ibuprofen (don't take Tylenol, as it's harder on your stomach) can help with your headache and other hard night-related aches and pains.
• Try eggs and toast
There's no surprise that fried egg sandwiches and omelets are among the most-recommended morning-after meals. Eggs are rich in cysteine, which may help the liver breakdown acetaldehyde, the by-product of alcohol metabolism that makes us feel ill. Having your eggs with toast will help stabilize blood sugar levels, if they have dropped from excessive alcohol.
• Go back to bed
There's a reason why we feel so fatigued and have a hard time thinking clearly when we're hungover: Alcohol disrupts sleep and robs you of precious R.E.M. sleep time, so you don't feel rested when you wake up. The best way to feel better if you have a hangover, is to follow the advice above and grab more Zzzs.
Iber JL. The effect of fructose on alcohol metabolism. Arch Intern Med. 1977;137(9):1121 http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=586971
Pittler MH, Verster JC and Ernst E. Interventions for preventing or treating alcohol hangover: systematic review of randomized controlled trials. BMJ 2005;331:1515