How To Avoid A Hangover

We’ve all done it, overindulged and paid for it a hangover from hell. But there are ways to minimise or even avoid a hangover that don't involve avoiding alcohol completely.

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The payback for a heavy night out generally comes the following morning, with the heavy head and queasy stomach — that is if you didn't already spend the end of the night with your head hovering over the porcelain bowl!

Dehydration is generally responsible for most of the nasty effects of a hangover, while that sick feeling is caused by the direct action of alcohol irritating the stomach lining (or by the kebab you picked up on the way home). If you know that you have next to no willpower when it comes to avoiding alcohol, then how do you set yourself up so you don’t wake up with the hangover from hell?

Hangovers are certainly no fun and often result in you completely wasting the following day, yet many of us make the same mistakes time and time again, taking it upon ourselves to put drinks away. Our top tips about what you should do before you go out, while you are out, and when you get home, should ensure that you wake up feeling at least half normal.

Before going out

  • Drink some fluid. Dehydration is responsible for the nastier effects of a hangover so it is best to take as much on board as you can prior to going out.

  • Protect the stomach lining with a glass of milk — it helps to slow the absorption of alcohol, meaning you won’t get drunk as quickly and be tempted to drink far too much far too early.

  • Eat a good meal. One school of thought is to allow yourself on this one occasion to eat a fatty meal, as fat is digested slowly and will protect the stomach from the irritating effects of alcohol. However, another approach would be a more healthy option: eat a variety of foods that are broken slowly, which will give you constant energy during the night. Protein-rich oily fish such as herring or mackerel, along with liver-detoxifying vegetables like broccoli or celery, are thought to be a good option.

  • Consider taking a supplement — such as vitamin C or evening primrose oil — to lessen the effects alcohol has on you.

  • Artichoke extract, milk thistle and the Chinese herb kudzu are all found to protect the liver from the damaging effects of alcohol.

While you are out

  • Don’t do it to yourself. The simple answer is that drinking too much alcohol is the root of your problem, so try not to overdo it. Not drinking is the best form of prevention — but then we have to be realistic!

  • Try alternating water or non-carbonated soft drinks with alcoholic ones to limit the amount of alcohol you consume as well as rehydrating the body as you go. Carbonated drinks should be avoided as they increase the amount of alcohol getting into the bloodstream.

  • Think about avoiding wines and spirits that contain colourings and additives. These are likely to contain substances called congeners which magnify the effects of a hangover and irritate the stomach lining. This is why white wines and clear spirits such as vodka generally cause a less intense and prolonged hangover.

  • If you’re in a fit state and it is safe, then consider walking home in the fresh air to help lessen the effect of your hangover.

  • Take a ‘healthy option’ snack bar to ward off any late-night food cravings, and to prevent you opting for the late night curry or kebab.

  • Avoid salty snacks like chips and nuts which only have the effect of making you more thirsty, meaning you consume even more alcohol.

When you get home

  • Before going to bed, drink as much fluid as you can reasonably get down you, and perhaps some orange juice — vitamin C speeds up the metabolism of alcohol by the liver. This may mean you spend half the night going to the loo, but that is better than the alternative of a bad hangover.

  • Try eating something simple like toast to ward off that shaking feeling in the morning — and it will help to settle your stomach too.

  • Consider taking some more of the multivitamins you took before you went out.

  • Finally, don’t reach for a night cap — more alcohol will only worsen the effects of the night that you have put your body through. Go to bed and let your body try to sort out the disruption you've caused.

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