Health & Beauty | November 2009
|10 Hangover Myths Debunked|
Family Health Guide
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November 30, 2009
Almost everyone you know seems to have a sure fire theory about how to have a big night out and still avoid the dreaded hangover. Some just don’t add up while others can leave you feeling even worse. Here are 10 hangover myths debunked and some facts which will leave you feeling a little better the morning after!
Myth 1: Aspirin or ibuprofen while you drink can allay the headache
FACT: Aspirin while you drink or after a hangover is a strict no-no. Asprin increases acid secretion in the stomach and does nothing to help eliminate alcohol from the body. On the contrary, aspirin was found to increase blood alcohol levels by 26% when taken before drinking. This was found in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Ibuprofen while you are drinking is also not advised as it may increase the risk of liver damage when combined with large amounts of alcohol.
TIP: Ibuprofen the next day - about an hour before you need to be functional - will help.
Myth 2: Wine does not give a hangover, vodka does
FACT: No, in fact, red wine can leave you with more of a hangover than vodka. It’s all got to do with something known as ‘congeners’ that are present in the alcohol. Congeners are toxic substances in the alcohol, and when you drink, these toxins are dispersed through your system. The level of congeners varies between different beverages. More expensive alcohol contains fewer congeners, as it undergoes a more rigorous distillation process and filters out a higher percentage.
Dark colored drinks, such as brandy, whiskey and red wine, have more congeners than clear drinks such as gin, vodka, and white wine. So red wine can actually leave you with a hangover that is as bad as, or possibly worse than, a hangover from vodka.
The British Medical Journal did tests that showed drinking bourbon whiskey is twice as likely to cause a hangover than the same amount of vodka.
TIP: Stick to wine, beer or clear alchohol drinks in moderation
Myth 3: Beer before liquor - never sicker
FACT: There’s nothing about the chemistry of these drinks interacting with each other that makes you sick the next day. What tends to happen is that once you start drinking beer your reluctance to drink more disappears and when you move onto the ‘harder’ stuff you are likely to drink faster.
TIP: Sticking to beer means that you don’t get drunk as quickly due to the lower alcohol content. But ultimately, it's the amount you drink and your pace that will determine how you feel, not the order in which you do it.
Myth 4: Not to worry ladies, a hangover won’t hit you that hard
FACT: With an equal quantity of drinks, alcohol is likely to leave a woman twice as tipsy as her male partner. The constitution of a woman's body, typically lower body weight with lesser water content and more fat, makes her more susceptible to getting drunk than a man.
Besides increased alcohol absorption, men have higher levels of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, which allows guys to metabolize alcohol better.
TIP: Ladies - know your limits - there's no need to keep up with your male counterparts.
Myth 5: Drinking helps get over stress and helps you sleep
FACT: If you are drinking to relieve stress or get sleep, think again. If the amount of alcohol in your blood is high, the brain is unable to enter the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of sleep, which is the relaxed state. Ultimately, you sleep all night and often all day to beat your headache, albeit without giving your mind and body the rest you really wanted.
TIP: Rather than drinking to relieve stress try excercise or techniques like yoga and meditation. See the section on insomnia for more advice.
MYTH 6: I can sober up quickly if I need to
FACT: If you think that taking a shower and drinking 5 cups of coffee will help you sober up - think again. The only thing your body needs is time — depending on your weight, it takes about three hours to eliminate every two drinks you've had that night. All these techniques are likely to do is create a cold and alert drunk, the experts say.
TIP: If you are set for a big night try and make sure there's nothing that can arise that will need clear thinking, either during the night or the following day.
Myth 7: Drink lots of water the morning after
FACT: While it’s certinly true that drinking water the next day will help, it’s more important to drink water while you are drinking and before your hangover sets in. Alcohol dehydrates your body by being flushed out along with water in the form of urine. This water has to be replenished. If you don't drink water while drinking alcohol, your body will use the water needed by other vital organs, including the brain. This is one reason why you experience headaches.
TIP: Try to match a glass of water for every couple of alcoholic drinks.
Myth 8: Eat before you go to sleep
FACT: Well, actually, it’s better you eat before you drink rather than before going to sleep. After a meal the food in your stomach slows the absorption of alcohol in the bloodstream. And strangely, fried foods go well with drinking because fatty foods stay for a longer time on the stomach lining. If you are busy digesting a steak your body has time to process the alchohol and byproducts, thereby helping to prevent a hangover. So drink slowly and on a full stomach.
TIP: Make sure you have a good meal prior to your night out.
Myth 9: Eat light after an hangover
FACT: More than eating light, it’s important to eat the right foods that will rehydrate and energize you. Some examples are eggs, fruit juices and bananas. Apart from proteins, eggs contain large amounts of cysteine, the substance that breaks down the hangover-causing toxin acetaldehyde. Therefore, eggs can help cleanse your body off alcohol. It’s also a good idea to eat bananas in the morning after a night of heavy drinking – they not only provide lost electrolytes, but, more importantly, replenish the potassium lost because of alcohol's diuretic (producing urine) properties. Other potassium rich foods or sports drinks are also good alternatives.
TIP: Make sure you have the ingredients for a healthy breakfast the morning after. Boiled eggs, a banana and fruit juice are a great option.
Myth 10: Hair of the dog
FACT: Don't believe the folklore remedy that drinking more alcohol will cure your hangover. All the ‘hair of the dog’ will do is delay your hangover into later on in the day. More alcoholic drinks will only boost the existing toxicity of the alcohol already in your body, and according to research, may lead to further drinking.
TIP: Just don't do it! The best morning after drink would be a Gatorade to replace lost electrolytes and water.
So get out there and have some fun, but remember to eat well, drink lots of water and avoid those painkillers while you are drinking.