HANGOVER – a strange word that seems to connote wanting to hang yourself to relieve the oppressive misery that seems to center itself just above and hanging over your eyeballs. The weight of enthusiastic excess is no stranger though to millions around the world – you are most definitely not alone. But that is of little consolation when all you want to do is to eradicate that overwhelming feeling of being totally and convincingly SICK.
So what is one to do? Well, search HANGOVER on Google and you are rewarded with an encouraging 741,000 sites (located in 0.17 seconds, no less). Sparing you the dreary wade through these sites, and wishing you some practical ways to beat the hangover, here is a Handle On Hangovers presented in an easy-to-keep and read on the way to the bar format…
What is a hangover, and what causes it?
This is one of those DUH? Questions, right? But actually international researchers on this subject (can you imagine what a job that would be ??) do not agree on the cause for this malady (no, not ma lady…). One thing seems to certain though: imbibing too much alcohol or the wrong type of alcohol is the best way to plant the hangover seeds. And you can further nurture the blossoming HO plant by not getting enough sleep, not drinking enough water, increasing your physical activity while you are drinking, and doing it all on an empty stomach. Whatever your poison or proclivity, one thing is sure: HO happens.
What does alcohol do?
No matter what form your alcohol (from the ancient Arabic Al Kool – which has nothing to do with Kool Aid, and which isn’t very Kool at all when the HO bug invades), the trip into your physical bod is common:
Trips to the loo? Well, that is because the alcohol acts to reduce the reabsorption of water by the kidneys and brings more to your hard-working bladder. And it all has to come out some time, several times sometimes…
Finally, alcohol may have a depressive effect, but when you stop drinking, your body reacts by producing something called glutamine. This stimulates the brain and leaves you with dream-filled or thought-filled sleep, preventing you from entering the deepest and most restful sleep soundness. Hence, one of the reasons for feeling less than your best on the morning after.
I hurt … what do I do to treat this hung over feeling?
There are many myths and magic potions promoted for this, but the general scientific consensus (from hung-over scientists, no doubt) supports the following things on that bleary, weary, teary day after the night before:
- Clear the remaining alcohol from your stomach – a trip to the pharmacy for some lovely totally black Charcoal tablets. These super absorbent (no wings) tabs are as perfect for the alcohol as they are for gastric upsets and food poisoning. Pop 2 as soon as you can.
- Patch up those hyper-levels of acid in the stomach that give you that sickly and burning sensation. Pharmacy time again, and 2 antacids well chewed are what is called for.
- How about an egg or two? One of the components of those good-old fashioned nutrition ovaloids is cysteine, and this helps the liver to breakdown one of the alcohol stay-behinds. Something called acetaldehyde and which is responsible for that familiar sweetish smell on the breath of someone who has really bonded with their booze recently.
- Not enough? How about the cyclist’s soul food: the banana? This helps to replenish some electrolytes (such as potassium). And you might just as well then have a nice cool sports drink that helps to re-hydrate you and put some of those electrolytes back – especially if you have been re-issuing your stomach contents up the wrong way…
And can I prevent a HO?
Sure – don’t drink. But moving very swiftly past this suggestion, here are some other thoughtful tips:
- Don’t drink … wait for it … in excess. And try to avoid the not-so-clear drinks (they all get a little unclear after a while…). This includes bourbon, rum, brandy, red wine, tequila. So good news for the makers of gin, vodka and white wine…
- Don’t mix your drinks. Seriously. Mixing increases the chance that some drinks you imbibe will contain toxins, or serve to propel the alcohol more quickly into your system (remember the delayed rush after gobbling down some of that gorgeously cold bubbly ??)
- Put something into your stomach before you start to drink. Simple question of stomach economics: compete with the alcohol for absorption and slow down the amount and rate which it enters your system. Towards this end, fatty foods (sorry) are better…
- Drink, drink, drink … water, that is… This helps to reduce the dehydrating effect of the alcohol on the body and the brain. So water before, during and after your drinking. Just like any good triathlete would do. There. Don’t you feel more athletic about this already?
With all that in mind, here’s wishing you a happy and healthy festive season. And may your days be as merry as your night !!