Health Tips How to cure a hangover

Published on October 2nd, 2013 | by Tom Wake

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16 ways to help prevent and cure hangovers

How to cure a hangover

She wisely drinks mint tea following a quick power nap

Here are 16 top tips for dealing with hangovers

Now some of these might seem blindingly obvious, but honestly, they do work so don’t just skim over them – no matter how much your head hurts and you want to hug yourself.

We’ll start out with some preventative measures.

1. Eat something substantial before you go out

Your mum will have told you this. “Now don’t you go out on an empty stomach”. She probably, sensibly, told you not to drink too much as well but we’ll deftly gloss over that.

Acetaldehyde is thought by scientists to be one of the main causes of hangovers. Food helps to stem the formation of acetaldehyde in your stomach and will stave off some of the more devastating effects (like the inexplicable urge to cry over an episode of Eastenders).

Which types of foods work best to prevent hangovers? 

Fats and carbs are the order of the day so plump for pizza, rice, pasta that sort of thing. Cheese is also very effective. If you’re leading a carb free life, don’t fret, oily fish (such as salmon and mackerel) will do the job just as well. 

Top tip: Have a spoonful of olive oil before you go out (in addition to eating).

2. Try and to stick to the same drink throughout the night

When you mix your drinks you give your body 10 times more work to do. Your liver has to try and process all the different drinks which increases the voracity of your hangover no end. It’s not just the alcohol in the different drinks, it’s also the additives and flavourings which can cause mayhem.

Where possible stick to one drink all night – preferably the same brand. So for example if you’re a beer drinker try to stay on the same brand of beer all night – same goes for spirits and wine.

There are a couple of handy rhymes/sayings to remember the obvious ones.

All together now…

“Wine then beer, feeling queer. Beer then wine feeling fine.” (maybe skip the second part of this rhyme).

Top tip: Avoid cocktails if possible – they’re fun but deadly.

3. Opt for light coloured spirits and wines (not dark)

There are toxins called congeners which are most certainly not your friend and play a big part in the ferocity of your hangover. They’re produced when alcohol ferments and are found in a much greater concentration in whisk(e)y, brandy and red wine.

Top tip: If you’re a spirit drinker go for vodka or gin. According to the Royal Society of Chemistry they’re ‘cleaner’ spirits because of the intensive distillation process.

4. Avoid ‘diet’ drink mixers

This won’t affect you if you’re Donald Draper and you prefer your liquor on the rocks. However if you like to drink spirits with a mixer – for example rum and coke, or gin and tonic – try to avoid the ‘diet’ versions.

The lack of sugar in diet drinks will work against you because the extra calories act as a shield.

Top tip: Non-fizzy fruit juice mixers work best.

5. Avoid fizzy alcoholic drinks and mixers

Carbonated (or fizzy) drinks allow alcohol to be to absorbed into your body far faster which will ramp up the effects of your hangover the next day.

The worst culprit is champagne and it can often give you a hangover feeling even while your drinking it (not to mention a tongue that feels like a lizard wrapped in sandpaper).

Top tip: Avoid champagne, Cava and fizzy mixers if you can – especially if you’ve got work the next day.

6. Drinks LOTS of water – before you go out, in-between drinks and just before you go to bed

It’s an obvious one but it works wonders.

When you drink a lot of alcohol you dehydrate your body and that’s one of the primary causes of that dizzy, headachy, nauseous feeling.

1) Have a big glass of water before you go out. 2) Try and sneak a glass of water where possible between drinks and 3) Drink LOTS of water before you go to the bed – you’ll thank yourself in the morning.

Top tip: Make sure you have a pint glass at home (try not to nick it from the pub). Fill it with water and make sure you drink ALL of it before you go to bed.

Dealing with your hangover the next day…

7. Have a hot shower first thing

The overwhelming temptation will be to delay doing anything ‘human’ for as long as possible. Usually this involves watching endless reruns of inoffensive TV dramas.

Ignore the urge to launch yourself at the sofa and have a shower first.

Throughout the night your body will have been doing its best to flush the alcohol out of your system through various means, including through sweat. That’s why you wake up feeling clammy and inhuman.

Showering won’t just help get rid of that boozy smell it’ll also wash away some of the toxins on your skin and leave you feeling a good deal fresher.

Top tip: If you’ve got a gym membership (bear with me) drag yourself out of the house and visit the steam room or sauna. This will help you sweat out some of the toxins – although make sure you drink a lot of water both before and after or you’ll get dehydrated and make things worse.

8. Eat hangover blasting foods and drink real fruit juice

The key here is to replenish your vitamin B intake.

Toast with honey for breakfast is great for soaking up any remaining alcohol in your system and giving you a sugar boost.

Fry-ups can seem like the most tempting thing in the world after a heavy night but all the saturated fats won’t help things.

It’s not all bad news though…

Eggs will help ease your hangover dramatically, so scramble, boil or poach some. They’ll give you that all-important boost of vitamin B. Crucially they also contain an amino acid called cysteine which rids your body of acetalhyde – that chemical we mentioned earlier that’s widely believed to cause hangovers.

If you can bear to cut up some fruit and eat that too.

Too hungover to eat fruit?

Try drinking fresh (NOT concentrated) fruit juice or fruit smoothies. The natural sugars will help you feel less ‘trembly’ and those vitamins in the juice will also help speed up recovery.

Insider’s Edge recommended top tip: Prepare some ramen (or treat yourself and go to a local Japanese of Vietnamese restaurant). Many people including Sophie and I swear by it and now scientists are giving it the thumbs up. The salty water in the soup will help replenish your fluids and replace sodium, potassium and other salts lost during the night while the egg will flush out the acetalhyde. Thank you Japan.

9. Have a power nap

When you go to bed after a lot of alcohol your sleep is severely impaired which compounds your hangover woes because you’ll feel tired, fuzzy headed and a bit cranky.

A nap during the day after you’ve topped up on water and food will do you a world of good and you’ll wake up feeling far more refreshed than you did first thing in the morning.

Whatever you do, don’t oversleep. Set your alarm so that you only rest for 1- 2 hours otherwise you’ll feel groggy and find it harder to get to sleep that night.

Top tip: Rather than try to ‘battle it out’ and spend the day bumping into things, try to sneak off for an hour or two and have a nap if you can.

10. Turn the brightness levels on your computer screen right down

Working with a hangover? Bright lights and glowing gadgets can emphasize that nauseas feeling and make you feel like the world’s spinning (more than usual).

Try turning the brightness down on your computer screen.

On some computers you’ll be able to do this using a brightness button on your keyboard on others you may need to go into screen or monitor settings.

Top tip: Try to avoid bright lights and computer screens as much as possible.

11. Avoid tea, coffee… anything with caffeine in it

It sounds counter-intuitive and most films would have us believe that a mug of coffee will cure all your hangover woes, but actually the opposite is true.

Caffeine will irritate your bowels and dehydrate you. If you start drinking lots of it when you’re hungover you’ll have to drink a great deal more water to dilute the effects of the alcohol.

Top tip: Try drinking mint tea, Rooibos and other caffeine-free hot drinks instead.

12. Drink lots of water throughout the day

The faster you can flush out the alcohol from your system and rehydrate your body, the faster your recovery will be.

You should be drinking regular sips of water throughout the day (rather than glugging whole reservoirs down your stomach in one go).

Top tip: Fill a litre bottle of water up in the morning and have it nearby to remind yourself to keep drinking.

13. If you’re feeling nauseas try bicarbonate of soda

If you’re feeling really awful, your tummy’s protesting and food is a no-no, try drinking some hot water mixed with bicarbonate of soda (although be sensible here because if you’ve feeling at death’s door you might have alcohol poising and need medical attention).

Assuming it’s not a medical emergency, put a teaspoon in hot water then let it cool a little to drink.

It tastes a little bit like blood and smells a bit ‘odd’ (so you might want to hold your nose while drinking it) but it can really help settle the stomach.

Top tip: Put a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in hot water and drink it to help settle your stomach.

14. Drink electrolyte sports drinks or use rehydration sachets

Drinking lots of water throughout the day should be your primary concern, but if you’re hangover is particularly violent try drinking Lucozade (or similar sports drinks) or add a rehydration sachet to your water (the type that you get to speed up recovery from diarrhoea).

You lose a lot of electrolytes when you drink alcohol and replacing these as quickly as possible will help speed up your recovery. 

Have some rehydration sachets at the ready in advance ‘just in case’. You might not feel like venturing out to the shops first thing.

Top tip: Drink coconut water! It’s rammed full of electrolytes (even more so than sports drinks) and contains more potassium than a banana. 

15. Go for a walk – or engage in some light, physical exercise

I’m not talking about running a marathon here – that definitely won’t do you any favours – but getting out of the house and getting a blast of fresh air will help take your mind off your hangover and get the blood pumping again.

Some light exercise will speed up your body’s metabolic rate and help get the alcohol out of your system faster.

The worst thing you can do is lounge around clutching your head because you’ll convince yourself that it’s worse than it is and prolong the torture.

Top tip: Give yourself a simple task that involves leaving the house. Run some errands or go for a walk in the park. 

16. Want more? Some people swear by these unusual hangover tips…

There are a number of other popular ‘hangover cures’ worth noting. Some people swear by these.

They include:

– Eat a banana (for the hangover bashing potassium it contains).
– Drink some flat (not fizzy) Coca Cola. This is mainly for the sugar rush. Some people keep an old bottle in the fridge for just this purpose.
– Take a Berocca in a glass of water.

That’s it!

I’ll let you get back to hugging your knees on the couch.

If you’ve got any weird and wonderful hangover tips please feel free to leave a comment below.


About the Author

My name's Tom Wake and I'm the editor of Insider's Edge. I bring you tips, tricks and shortcuts to help you save money, make money and save time.



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