Overindulgence is inevitable this time of year. Meeting up with friends, family, and work colleagues usually accompanies a drink or five for many of us. And for most of us, being hungover Is not an option.
Here are five hangover prevention tips AND myths to help you navigate through the festivities.
Hangover prevention tips
1. Eat before you drink
You’ve probably heard loads of times that drinking on an empty stomach is not a good idea. But ever wondered why?
Well, alcohol is absorbed much faster when your stomach is empty. In fact, it only takes 90 seconds for your blood alcohol levels to rise after you take a sip of your favorite Christmas cocktail.
Having food in your stomach massively slows this absorption down. This way you’ll have a slow and steady rise in blood alcohol levels, rather than big peaks and troughs which can leave you feeling rough.
We all know that drinking too much alcohol can lead to dehydration. This is because alcohol is a diuretic which means it causes your kidneys to push out excess water.
To combat this, consider having a glass of water between every drink. Better still, invest in some hydration salts like dioralyte which enhances water absorption
3. Stock up on vitamins
Certain vitamins and herbal extracts have been shown in small studies to help reduce hangover symptoms. Namely, vitamin B6, prickly pear extract, ginseng, and Dihydromyricetin. Although a lot more research needs to be done to show they actually work, it's an interesting point to note.
As a result, there are quite a few different hangover pills on the market that contain a mixture of these ingredients and are sold as supplements. They aren't hangover "cures" but could be an extra helping hand in your recovery efforts.
4. Avoid whiskey and red wine
Darker-colored drinks like whiskey and red wine contain more congeners. And congeners are responsible for the vibrant tastes and smells experienced when sipping on your favorite dark-colored drink. But unfortunately, congeners make hangovers much worse.
That's why sticking to lighter-colored drinks may be the best way forward if you're planning on having more than a couple of drinks.
1. Hair of the dog cures hangovers
Although it's true that drinking when hungover may help how you're feeling, it's not the best way to combat a hangover. The reason people report feeling better after sipping on a bloody mary is that the alcohol levels rise in the bloodstream and numb some of the symptoms of a hangover.
But all this does is delay the inevitable hangover that will follow. And when it does eventually arrive, it'll come back with a vengeance.
2. Coffee sobers you up
Let's make one thing really clear: drinking coffee has been shown in several studies to have no effect on blood alcohol levels. It will definitely not sober you up. In fact, caffeine is a diuretic (makes you pee out more water) which means it can exacerbate dehydration.
3. You can "sweat out" a hangover
Alcohol is metabolized by your liver, not your muscles. So it's not true that you can sweat out alcohol or its toxins by exercising. Exercising when hungover may actually be harmful because it makes dehydration worse and increases the risk of injury.
4. Eat bread to soak up alcohol
Bread does not have magic alcohol-soaking abilities. It's certainly true that eating before going out can slow down alcohol absorption. But if you've had a lot to drink already and are hoping that some bread is going to soak the remainder in your stomach, you'll be massively disappointed.
Wrapping things up
That brings us to the end of our top hangover tips and myths to be aware of.
Ultimately, hangovers happen when you've been drinking over your limits. That's why the best way to prevent a hangover is to drink less alcohol. That's easier said than done when it feels like you've got back-to-back Christmas parties to attend!