How to get rid of a hangover the healthy way
You’ve woken up with a pounding headache, dry mouth and a churning tummy. A hazy memory of cocktails, wine and one cheeky tequila slammer for the road floats before your tired eyes. Oh yes, it’s the telltale symptoms of a hangover and you know exactly what to do: Drink all the coffee and eat all the bacon until you feel better, right? Actually, wrong. You can’t trust your food cravings right now, but you can trust our experts. Here’s what to actually eat the next time a hangover (accidentally, of course) happens to you…
Go for poachies or a scramble if you’re hitting up your local café the morning after a big night. Why? If you can stomach it, your sunny side up order will help your system get back to work sooner. “Eggs are rich in protein and contain a number of amino acids, including cysteine. Cysteine breaks down acetaldehyde, helping to reduce hangover symptoms,” explains WF dietitian Caitlin Reid. “Acetaldehyde is a toxic by-product of alcohol breakdown, which if left to build up in the liver causes symptoms such as headaches and vomiting.”
A good source of healthy fats and fibre, avocado is a great option for your troubled tum and irritated liver. It’s also a quality source of potassium, which is one of the minerals that drinking can deplete.
Alcohol messes with your liver’s ability to metabolise sugar properly, which is why you’ll often feel weak and moody the day after a boozy session. Carbs will help, if you choose the right kind. Multigrain toast is a solid option. “Since these carbohydrates are slow-releasing, the glucose will stay in your blood stream for longer,” says dietitian Robbie Clark (thehealthclinic.com.au).
Your brain might be saying ‘coffee!’ but your bod is definitely calling out for old mate green juice. “Fruit and veg juice will provide fluid for hydration as well as vitamin C and B vitamins, which are important for helping the liver detoxify alcohol,” tips Reid. “Fruit also contains the sugar fructose that may help to clear the alcohol from the body faster.” Order up this sweet, cleansing combo: cucumber, apple, celery, kale and ginger.
Your bod wants the nourishment of wholegrains right now and a good-quality muesli will hit the spot. “It’ll help to boost your blood sugar levels while also stabilising them, thanks to being low-GI,” says Reid. Wholegrains also contain B vitamins, which support the liver, give you energy and are likely lacking after a heavy drinking sesh.
Your first mission in Operation Hangover Cure is to rehydrate – and in severe cases, plain H20 might not cut it. What you need is electrolytes, and coconut water has plenty. “When alcohol enters the bloodstream it causes the pituitary gland to block the production of vasopressin. This results in the kidneys sending water to the bladder instead of it being absorbed back into the body, and this leads to dehydration,” explains Reid. “Fluid and electrolytes will help with rehydrating the body.”
Your fave post-workout treat is pretty good post-party, too. Bananas are easy to digest, so they’ll give your churning tummy a time-out, and they’ll deliver a shot of muscle-loving nutrients such as potassium and magnesium (ideal if you’re feeling weak and shaky).
Like eggs, yoghurt contains cysteine, to help your body clear out the booze. It’s also a source of blood sugar-balancing protein, calcium, healthy fats and friendly bacteria, which may all need topping up after a few too many bevvies.
If your hangover has left you with the-room-is-still-spinning nausea, try sipping on ginger tea – it’s a champ at settling an upset stomach. Sweeten your tea with honey and the hit of fructose will help you process the alcohol.
WHAT NOT TO EAT
Big, greasy brekkies: Yes, we know that heading to a café for a dirty big fry-up or a stack of pancakes with maple syrup is high on your agenda right now. But, when you’ve overdone it on booze, your liver struggles to process junk, leaving you weak and moody. “Sugary and fatty foods can cause unwanted weight gain and won’t provide a miracle cure,” says Reid. “They’ll only add to your already unbalanced blood sugar levels.”
Copious caffeine: Coffee isn’t a winner either, despite what your tired brain is telling you. When your body is already dehydrated (one of the major causes of those blergh hangover feels), adding another diuretic – we’re looking at you, double-shot latte – will only make the sitch worse. “Too much coffee will lead to more dehydration and make your hangover worse,” says Reid. “One morning coffee is fine, just don’t go overboard.”
More alcohol: The reason the old hair of the dog strategy has plenty of followers is because it works. Kinda. But you shouldn’t do it. Confused? “It will provide a numbing effect, initially,” explains Clark. “But all you’re doing is prolonging the inevitable, and it will likely make your hangover symptoms worse.”
BEFORE THE CHEERS
Fact: Prevention is better than cure. So, before you start poppin’ bottles, eat a protein-rich meal (it’ll line your stomach, slowing down the absorption of alcohol) and alternate every drink with water to rehydrate.
This story appeared in the December 2016 issue of Women’s Fitness.