Hangovers are a common and often frequent part in almost every students life. Some may say there are no real cures for one Jesticle too many, but science has proven them wrong and this article gives some handy hangover prevention tips as well as explaining why hangovers make us feel so ill.
Everyone knows that too much alcohol is the cause, but not everyone knows the science behind avoiding a hangover and what it is about alcohol, other then the vast quantities consumed, that causes them.
Common symptoms often include nausea, dizziness, tiredness, a pounding head and a dry mouth. All of these are caused by the intake of excessive toxins found in alcohol.
Alcohol is converted in the liver from ethanol to acetaldehyde which is the chemical that causes nausea and headaches. The liver tries to break this substance down with an enzyme called glutathione into a less harmful substance – but there is a limited concentration of this enzyme in the liver. Therefore, when you drink excessive amounts of alcohol, there is more acetaldehyde than glutathione, producing a hangover.
Alcohol also causes dehydration. It stops a chemical called vasopressin from telling the kidneys how much water they have, and therefore the kidneys send most of the water to your bladder, meaning that you need to go to the toilet more. This process can start as early as your second drink, but when you stop consuming alcohol the brain realises how much water you actually have and notices that you are dehydrated. To compensate for this, it takes water from the brain and transports it to the liver, causing a shrinkage of the brain away from its membrane – causing headaches, the sensation of a pounding head and a dry mouth. Once you stop drinking alcohol, a natural stimulant is no longer suppressed and you toss and turn in your sleep making you feel more tired when you wake up.
As for cures and prevention:
- Before you go out, eat fatty foods and carbs which provide a longer time for your body to process toxins in alcohol. Fatty foods slow down the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream and reduce stomach irritation (i.e. vomiting), whilst carbohydrates prevent low blood sugar and ease nausea.
- Drink water before, during and after drinking to reduce the amount of water stolen from the brain and increase amount of toxins discharged through urine.
- Drink light-coloured drinks such as vodka and gin – darker drinks contain more congeners which have extra toxic chemicals for the body to process.
- Don’t drink fizzy drinks or beer before other alcohol because the bubbles caused by carbonation increases the uptake in alcohol producing a worse hangover.
- For breakfast the following day eat eggs as they contain cysteine which is known to help break down alcohol toxins, or a banana which is high in potassium and increases brain function . Wash it down with fruit juices – these contain fructose for energy and they also increase the excretion of toxins from tissues.
There you have it – science can prevent you from having a hangover and wasting money on products which claim to prevent hangovers. Now you can have as many alcoholic drinks as your wallet will allow.