How to avoid a hangover

How to make a big night out more healthy

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

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.
  • 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.

And if all your good intentions still fail ...

Everyone has their own individual hangover cure — what's yours?

Comments (9)

  • Chris_Whitehead 'Hey, these really work! I'd already been drinking milk before going out, but have now stopped having night caps (well, most of the time....)'

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  • TonySmith2 'I've got in the habit of trying to drink as much water as I can when I get home after a night out. Although it means a few trips to the loo during the night, its better than the deydrated hangover feeling the next day.'

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  • HAN75 'Staying off the lager is a big help especially considering all the rubbish additives that are in it. You always feel a lot better having stuck to spirits.'

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  • mschwoerke 'I find that rehydration salts, such as dioralyte (about £2 for 5 from a chemist) really help, as long as you remember to take one on board before you fall asleep. Really useful at the moment with the rugby on! '

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  • Terrids 'Taking milk thistle either before you go out or before you go to bed is an absolute life saver!! Believe me, it really does work...once you've tried it you'll never be without it! NB the best one to take is the liquid one..its more potent than the tablets and is more easily absorbed...8-)'

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  • Liams 'Wow what is the point in lessening the effect of the alcohol? You will just drink more and spend more. The bigger the effect of the alcohol the less you will consume overall, the 1st half of this article is completely contradictory. '

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  • Cornelia77 'a pint of Berocca before you go to bed, potentially some toast if you haven't had a decent dinner, Vitamin B complex in the morning and possibly another pint of Berocca will sort you out.'

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  • danv8 'No matter how drunk you are, consume two to four raw chicken eggs (from the shell) before going to bed...very effective...'

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  • RyanJerome 'I'm surprised there's no mention of Glutathione (SUPER-antioxidant) and the amazing benefits it has in helping to prevent hangovers. Or even N-Acetyle Cysteine (NAC) which helps to naturally boost your liver's glutathione levels. Or Alpha Lipoic Acid, these all legitimately boost your glutathione levels and the glutathione fights off the nasty acetaldehyde. Although you cannot just take glutathione capsules as your body will not absorb them, but if you get ahold of some liposomal glutathione and drink a little bit of it before drinking, you're set! You can learn more on all of this by going to Other notables: milk thistle turmeric root/powder vitamin c vitamin b Stay hangover-free without giving up your booze!'

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