So, you’ve been out drinking and suddenly realize that you’ve had too much — way too much! What now? Tomorrow is only a few hours away — you have a big presentation/test/interview … what will you do? Reach for the new hangover cure: “Shakes-be-Gone.” Will it work? Let’s talk…
Hangovers are awful. A physiologic meltdown begins … you start peeing a lot, contributing to dehydration (alcohol displaces water in your body), which causes dizziness, fatigue and headaches. Your body quickly tries to detox you from the “poison” you drank. Sadly, in so doing, the build up of a metabolite called acetaldehyde is left. Acetaldehyde is even harder on the body than alcohol! Your liver goes into hyperdrive, your stomach lining is irritated by the alcohol, blood vessels dilate, blood sugar levels dip … ugh! I feel sick…
Yada, yada, don’t drink…
OK, so, you did. Unfortunately, there is no good research on the usefulness of so-called hangover cures. Most alcohol research is based on the effects of longer-term drinking. Supplement companies exploit this information to entice you, claiming it will help with your one night of over-indulgence.
If you know you are going to drink, EAT SOMETHING! It’s not sexy, it’s not trendy … it is tasty! This is the best prevention (short of abstinence) as food coats your stomach; food provides vitamins, minerals, water; it helps stabilize blood sugar.
Although it won’t cure a hangover, be sure to drink plenty of non-alcohol related beverages to replenish your body. Whatever you do, after a bout of heavy drinking, don’t start again the next night. Give yourself at least two days before drinking again.
Here’s to clear thinking!
Betsy Reynolds-Malear, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietician at Student Health
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