Tis the season for indulging and if you’re anything like me, that means hitting the bottle a little more than the rest of the year. I am no stranger to the dreaded curse of the holiday hangover. So, before you reach for that fourth glass of bubbly or whiskey cocktail there are some things you should know in order to avoid the world’s worst hangover this holiday season.
Before you knock that drink back, you should know what’s most likely to cause the biggest hangover. Congratulations, champagne — you’re the worst.
It undergoes two fermentations, and it actually contains a hangover causing substance called acetaldehyde. Basically, alcohol gets turned into acetaldehyde and that’s what causes a lot of the hangover issues. With champagne, you’re already ingesting it from the get go.
Second to bubbly are dark liquors like whiskey and bourbon, because they have numerous impurities. They have volatile organic compounds — similar to the headache-inducing smells of products like Sharpies or crazy glue.
Your safest drinking bets are gin and vodka, because there’s no caffeine in them, which means you’re getting more fluid already. Gin is basically just vodka with juniper berry extract, so it at least it is bringing some antioxidants to the table. Unlike dark liquors, vodka and gin are distilled four to five times and charcoal-filtered, which clears out some hangover causing impurities.
So, in addition to being wise about which cocktail to imbibe in, here are a few solid, tried and true hangover cures:
1. Pills and preventative measures
It’s way way easier to prevent a hangover than it is to treat it after the fact. That whole thing about dehydration causing a hangover is folklore…it makes the symptoms worse, but it’s not the sole cause of what’s going on. Inflammation is where a lot of the headache, nausea and vomiting come from. As such, preventative home measures are fairly traditional. Any of the at home cures you would attempt after a night of drinking could potentially work best when applied the night before. For example, taking one or two pills like Advil or Aleve, before hitting the hay helps a lot with inflammation. Be sure to chug a big glass of water to help with dehydration too. Coconut water cocktails have gotten some great hype because they hydrate as you drink, therefore the symptoms are far less intense. Coconut water on its own is far more replenishing that regular water, however, it is an acquired taste.
2. Greasy food
It’s funny, your body actually craves the things that it really needs. Greasy food is rich in fat, which is has the most energy per gram. Your natural inclination to dive headfirst into a cheeseburger, although unhealthy, is actually right on. Here are two of my favorite foods:
Bacon: Meat in general has a lot of B vitamins, which act as a catalyst to help get alcohol on the breakdown. Eggs and cheese: A quick omelette with some mayonnaise or avocado is a great fix for protein and fat.
Some health nuts might say “Let’s eat some açai berries, or chia seeds or almond butter!” rather than reach for the traditional calorie rich solutions. Maybe for a mild hangover that might do, but for a moderate to epic hangover, I don’t think that’s going to cut it. That being said, a bacon sandwich isn’t a good fix for vegans, or health-conscious folks. If you really want to eat clean, there are other great options:
Dark green vegetables: Particularly any that have lots of nutrients, like spinach, kale or broccoli.
Fruits high in resveratrol: It’s a key antioxidant, and antioxidants are necessary for beating hangovers. Nosh on fruits like pomegranates, acai berries and currants.
Egg whites: It might not pack the punch of a regular egg and cheese sandwich, but egg whites are the next best alternative.
3. Coca Cola (seriously!)
Sprite has become a trendy hangover cure. However, it pales in comparison to good ol’ Coca Cola when dealing with a hangover. The infamous soda is made with coca leaves, which has lots of antioxidants and caffeine, which works well to treat headaches. It can also help give your blood sugar a kick start so you can begin to feel better. Health nuts, you’re out of luck. Coffee, tea and kombucha pale in comparison. So drink up!
For a mega-blend of health, nothing beats a smoothie. While not as intense as greasy food, it’s a smart way to inhale a lot of necessary nutrients to help you in the recovery process.
I recommend blending: almond milk for protein, coconut water for essential electrolytes, pomegranate, acai berries, spinach and a vitamin powder for major antioxidant replenishment. You’ll get a burst of necessary nutrients and most likely some energy to keep you going. Not only will your body feel rejuvenated but your skin will thank you also. The skin is the an organ that suffers greatly from dehydration and lack of nutrients. It is a dead giveaway to how someone is feeling, especially after a late night. It would also be a good idea to apply a hydrating mask the morning after a party to help heal and restore from the outside as well. My favorite mask to rehydrate would be the Gel Therapy from Bioelements. It is cooling and soothing and a great pick me up for anyone suffering from a hangover.
So enjoy yourself in moderation. Life is simply too short not to! And should you ever fall victim to the hangover’s cruel grasp, at least you will be prepared to fight the good fight with these tried and true tips. Happy holidays and cheers!