With warmer weather upon us, there is an increase in backyard barbecues and get-togethers, which also typically means an increase in alcohol consumption. In addition to remembering to enjoy your cocktails responsibly, it’s also important to know how to prevent a hangover before the morning after. Good news! Enjoying a few drinks doesn’t mean you’re destined to spend the next day sloth-like on the couch or hunched over a toilet. In fact, researchers are finding that your alcoholic choices and what you eat before, during, and after you drink could drastically reduce your risk of a morning hangover.
In the event that you do overindulge and find yourself feeling queasy and awful the morning after, reach for one of these natural hangover food and drinks instead of the medicine cabinet, and you’ll be feeling refreshed and back to your good old self in no time. And, remember to choose organic foods when stocking up on foods to fight hangovers; your night out on the town has already given your liver enough to process, it shouldn’t have to deal with breaking down toxic pesticides and chemicals too.
Eating asparagus before going out for a night of drinks, or over dinner while you’re drinking, can help prevent or ease a next-day hangover. Researchers have found that extracts taken from the leaves and shoots of asparagus boosted levels of important enzymes that effectively break down alcohol after heavy drinking.
Whether you choose an asparagus dish or not, be sure to eat before you drink, warns Aaron White, PhD, director of the Underage and College Drinking Prevention Research program at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Eating allows more of the alcohol to break down in the stomach before your body absorbs it. “Having food in the stomach while drinking results in a slow trickle of alcohol into the bloodstream versus a rapid rise when one drinks on an empty stomach,” White explains. “This means a smaller impact on the brain, less of a buildup of toxic byproducts of alcohol metabolism and, presumably, a more tolerable hangover.”
Prickly Pear Cactus
This cactus fruit possesses mega anti-inflammatory agents that can help offset the damage done by drinking alcohol. Researchers at Tulane University discovered that drinkers who took prickly pear cactus extract 5 hours before drinking had 50 percent fewer hangover symptoms compared to drinkers who went without the extract. You can eat prickly pear as a fruit, take an extract capsule, or drink prickly pear tea to help prevent a hangover. Note: This dietary hangover remedy is more of a prevention measure, and is best used BEFORE drinking vs. after.
Drink Lots of Clear Liquids, Including Alcohol
To prevent a horrible hangover, it’s important to focus on clear liquids not just the day after, but while you’re drinking, too. (This includes the actual cocktail.) Stick with rum, vodka, and gin—spirits lower in hangover-causing congeners, a fermentation byproduct. Avoid more congener-rich spirits like brandy, champagne, bourbon, cognac, whiskey, red wine, and tequila.
Since alcohol blocks the release of vasopressin, a hormone that signals the kidneys to conserve water, it’s easy to become dehydrated while drinking. Always be sure to drink plenty of water in between cocktails to stay hydrated, and dilute the alcohol already in your stomach. The morning after, reach for some clear organic broth to help replace the salt and potassium lost through drinking.
Many people are conditioned to reach for a sports drink when they wake up with a grueling hangover. While those electrolyte-rich drinks do help bring your body’s chemistry back into balance, they often contain other unwanted nasty ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and synthetic food dyes that are toxic to brain cells. Worse yet, some Powerade and Gatorade flavors contain a toxic flame retardant chemical. Coconut water is a natural electrolyte-boosting option that can help A ConsumerLab.com analysis released earlier this year found that Zico Natural Pure Premium Coconut Water contained electrolyte levels on par with Gatorade, while some other coconut water brands did not live up to the hype.
Ever feel physically weak after a night of drinking? You’re not imagining it—your muscles really pay the price when you overdo it in the drinking department. If you’re feeling a little shaky after a night of drinking, reach for a banana to help restore your body’s potassium levels and improve muscle function.
Quinoa is a South American grain, growing in popularity in the states, and it can also come in mighty handy during a hangover situation. Drinking depletes your body’s supply of vital amino acids—the building blocks of protein—but, quinoa’s well-balanced amino acid profile can help repair the damage done.
Organic Tomato Juice
Organic tomato juice can send a natural jolt of vitamins and minerals into your alcohol-ravaged body, but that’s not it’s only perk. Tomato juice hydrates, and just like raw honey, the fructose in organic tomato juice will help to quickly flush out any lingering alcohol.
Remember, to please drink responsibly.
Bon Veggie Appetit!
Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews