What happens when alcohol consumption “slipped” a bit out of control last night? The next day is not at all pleasant. Headache, nausea, fatigue, drowsiness, vomiting or as it is most commonly known to everyone a hangover. There are many ways to get rid of hangover but following a proper diet the next day will aid a faster recovery. So, what are the best hangover foods? Let’s find out what research says.
The main cause of hangover from a scientific point of view is a toxic substance called acetaldehyde. Specifically, liver ethanol is oxidized to acetaldehyde, which is then further oxidized to acetic acid. When acetaldehyde accumulates in the body due to overconsumption of alcohol then it causes headaches, nausea and even vomiting.
As a general rule of thumb, your diet should be tailored so that the symptoms of intoxication retreat as quickly as possible and without pain. The nutrients present in some foods and drinks make them perfect candidates for this job. The most important are explained below.
Water, sport drinks and salty snacks
One of the characteristics of drinking alcohol is increased urination. Therefore drunkenness involves dehydration and electrolyte loss. Dehydration in turn aggravates the hangover and makes recovery more painful. Drinking water is necessary to avoid dehydration and to reduce alcohol concentration. To replenish electrolytes you may consume a sports drink or combine the gradual consumption of water with a salty snack.
Fruits and honey
Substances such as fructose appear to accelerate the metabolic process of acetaldehyde, so it can be quickly removed from the body. Fructose is the sugar found in fruit, fruit juice and honey. So for example an apple and 2 teaspoons of honey can contribute to a faster recovery. (See also: Is honey better than sugar?)
Characteristic of drunkenness is also a mild hypoglycaemia. So foods high in carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes will stabilize glucose levels and help to treat the symptoms.
Tomato and lemon juice
Traditional ways to treat a hangover like eating tomato and lemon juice have not been evaluated scientifically. Nevertheless tomatoes are rich in vitamin A and C, B carotene and lycopene so definitely they can help. Lemon juice can help relief the feeling of nausea and a meal with chicken soup can relieve the stomach while moisturizing the body.
Milk and Olive oil
Milk can also remedy hangover effects. It can be consumed along with fruits rich in potassium, such as bananas, or as a milkshake with added honey for even better results.
Olive oil also acts beneficially soothing the stomach.
Can coffee help?
Controversial is the effect of coffee after a hangover. There are many myths about coffee and hangovers but what is really the truth? Is coffee an effective cure for hangovers?
Coffee has a diuretic effect and thereby aggravates dehydration – True
“Victims” of hangover have traditionally used a strong dose of coffee as the best cure for a hangover, specifically for headache – True
Coffee (caffeine) can give you more energy and help fight fatigue after a hangover – True but the effects are only temporary
Water or tea (without caffeine) are better than coffee to relief hangover symptoms – True
To sum up, coffee despite what most people think, is not proven by any research that is can effectively cure the symptoms of hangover.
Prevention is always the best cure
In any case, you should try and avoid the unpleasant consequences of a hangover by drinking alcohol wisely. It is especially important not to drink alcohol on an empty stomach and always accompany your alcoholic drinks with water. Pure alcoholic drinks like gin and wine are less harmful and should preferably be consumed without sodas.