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How to Prevent and Combat Nasty Hangovers

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Is a potential hangover on your horizon? Sharon Collison, a registered dietitian at the Nutrition Center at STAR Health at the University of Delaware, has some tips.

 

Prevention

According to Collison, there are a few preventative measures you can take to prevent a nasty hangover. Staying hydrated by drinking as much non-alcoholic fluid as possible beforehand is helpful.

“Alcohol is a diuretic,” she says. “It causes the body to lose more fluid. You want to make sure you’re not dehydrated before you start drinking. If you’re dehydrated, you’re setting yourself up to be miserable.”

Food is also important.

“Make sure you’ve eaten well before drinking,” says Collison. “Drinking on an empty stomach is going to increase the rate of alcohol absorption and increase how drunk you get,” she says. “So eating food along with the alcohol can help slow down the absorption and minimize the likelihood of a hangover.”

If you still end up with a hangover in the morning, Collison has a few fail-safe remedies.

1. Make sure to hydrate

Because alcohol is a diuretic, you’ll be in a dehydrated state and will have lost electrolytes.

“Take in fluid and some sodium to help your body hold on to the fluid you’ve consumed,” says Collison. She recommends drinking Gatorade, Powerade, or one of those in combination with water to re-hydrate.

Even drinking water before you go to bed after a night out will help you get a start on re-hydrating for the next day.

2. Get some sleep

Alcohol also interferes with your ability to get enough REM sleep, Collison says. REM makes up about 25 percent of the sleep cycle and is the point where your body is energized and dreaming occurs.  

“Getting sleep is really going to minimize symptoms and help you feel better,” she says.

3. Eat balanced meals

Don’t prolong the symptoms of a hangover by not eating. Collison says eating a well-balanced meal will help you feel better after a night of drinking. She recommends eating food that’s easily digested, like low-fat carbohydrate and protein-packed meals, especially if you’re nauseated.

Soup is a good go-to, because it contains sodium and is easy to consume. “Especially if you have some nausea or a stomachache,” says Collison.

She also recommends smoothies as a way to get nutrients into an uneasy stomach.

“Depending on the severity of a hangover, you might not have an appetite, so smoothies are great for that,” she says.

Smoothies provide fluids, sodium—in milk and yogurt—and will get your blood sugar up, while also providing protein and fruit all in one.

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