Hey guys, let’s face it.
If you indulge in an alcoholic beverage on occasion, we know you have probably experienced a hangover at some point in your life!
Now, let’s get this straight, alcohol is not directly responsible for hangovers. Alcohol (ethanol) is broken down by the liver into a substance called acetaldehyde. It is the buildup of acetaldehyde in the body that causes a constellation of symptoms that the common man has labeled “hangover”: headaches, fatigue, impaired concentration, impaired reflexes, nausea & vomiting, sweating, anxiety and depression.
The term hangover dates back to 1894 as far back as my research shows. Apparently it was used to portray the feeling of something “left over” from the effects of alcohol. In the early 1900’s, this term had a separate origin where it was used to describe someone literally “hanging over” the toilet the morning after a night of drinking to vomit!
People like to blame their hangover on various things, but the severity of a hangover comes down to 3 main things:
1. Quantity of alcohol consumed
2. Type of alcohol consumed
3. Length of time over which alcohol is consumed
Hangovers can also be worse as you age, and worse in women than men. Alcohol is absorbed faster in women and stays around longer. The older you get your body starts to lose its supply of the enzyme responsible for breaking down alcohol in your liver, so it hangs around longer.
Now let’s get to the meat: a nobel-prize worthy strategy for heavy drinking! I have separated this into 3 stages:
All the pros know that before you head out for a night on the town, you want to make sure your liver is optimized to handle massive quantities of alcohol. Here are some things you should be doing before going nuts:
Fill your stomach. It doesn’t really matter exactly what you eat, but the key here is that you want to make sure it is a balanced meal consisting of carbohydrates for fuel, protein so your insulin doesn’t spike, and lipids (fats) to soak up that alcohol from being too quickly absorbed.
Load up on the right vitamins. Now this part can be a game changer. Alcohol depletes Vitamin B12 and thiamine. You should get a multivitamin that contains high amounts of Vitamin B12, thiamine, and Vitamin B-6, or otherwise get those as separate bottles. Bear in mind, taking B12 sometimes gives people a feeling of an energy boost, and may actually counteract the drowsiness of alcohol as well, and you may end up drinking more without feeling intoxicated, so be careful!
Take the right supplement. If you are particularly adventurous, I recommend that you pick up “Prickly Pear Extract”. In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, this natural herb was shown to reduce hangover symptoms by up to 62% when taken 5 hours before drinking heavy! This is certainly worth a try with its minimal side effects.
Okay, so you’ve just chowed down on some grub and you’ve loaded up on the right vitamins and supplements. You enter the party and your friend approaches you with 2 tequila shots… alas, it begins! Now you remember that your friends at EZMed Podcast told you about these rules:
Slow your pace. Limit yourself to 1 shot/highball/wine or 2 beers per hour to a maximum of 4-5 depending on how you handle your alcohol. If you believe in “loading” then go ahead and double this in the first hour, but you should still consider that another hour used up. So, if you’re out drinking from 9PM-2AM that is 5 hours, so your absolute max limit should be 5 shots or 5 wine glasses or 10 beers (remember, this article is covering binge nights in case this seems extreme to you).
For every alcoholic drink you must drink a glass of water. Alcohol is a diuretic so you lose plenty of water. To avoid dehydration, which worsens hangover symptoms, you need to follow this rule. It may cause you a few extra trips to the loo, but trust me your body will thank you tomorrow!
Avoid dark alcohols. Darker liquors contain “congeners” which are substances made during the fermentation process. So not only do you face hangover from acetaldehyde buildup but also congeners which independently cause the same hangover symptoms as well. Be wise and stick to one type of drink, preferably clear ones!
3. The Aftermath
Your vision’s blurry. You can’t remember much of the night. You’re in an Uber with your buddy and heading back home. You end up dozing off on the couch when you get home and once again you hear voices of EZMed Podcast’s Veer and Harman telling you:
Load up on electrolytes. Your body loses essential electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium during alcohol binges, so it’s crucial to replace these asap. Gatorade is not bad but has quite a bit of sugar, they created G2 which is a bit lighter on the sugar. I have used infant Pedialyte hydration solution which is on the sweeter side but loaded with electrolytes and well balanced.
Avoid caffeine and Tylenol. Caffeine can improve headaches but it worsens dehydration and can ultimately leave your body in worse shape while trying to get over a hangover. And Tylenol is broken down by the liver, and after taking a beating your liver needs rest, opt for Ibuprofen for that headache instead.
Sleep it off. Alcohol binges are highly inflammatory and your immune system takes a hit which actually makes it easier for you to get an infection! One of the best ways to help your immune system is getting a good night’s sleep.
There you have it, The EZMed Guide to Handling Hangover’s Like a Pro! Good luck to you, and remember don’t become a weekend warrior!