We’ve all been there! The throbbing headache, churning stomach, and dry mouth. Even if it seemed like a good idea last night, your body sure doesn’t thank you for it today! While it’s true that the only real way to avoid a hangover is not to drink alcohol, some foods can reduce the symptoms slightly and make the next day a little bit more tolerable.
Coconut water is one of the most hydrating fluids you can drink. So much so that many athletes use it to rehydrate during exercise rather than electrolyte drinks or water. One of the main culprits of a hangover is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic that makes you urinate more frequently, removing water and certain electrolytes from your body. Coconut water contains an excellent balance of both, which can help rehydration and aid the breakdown of alcohol in the body.
When you drink alcohol, your body tries to break it down through the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase. Studies show that limes can improve the body’s ability to make this enzyme and speed up the breakdown of any alcohol left in your system. Unfortunately, eating a lime by itself with a nauseous stomach might be a bit too much! Instead, mix some lime juice into coconut water to get the hydrating benefits and improved alcohol breakdown.
Ginger has been used for centuries to help treat nausea, and scientific research seems to back up this benefit. Ginger may also have a long-lasting effect on the body as some studies tentatively suggest it helps to treat alcohol fatty liver disease. Couple this with its anti-inflammatory properties, and you have an excellent early morning pick me up. The easiest way to have Ginger is to grate around a thumbnail length and swallow it with some water.
Leafy greens such as spinach and kale are another type of food that can help break down alcohol by increasing alcohol dehydrogenase production. They also contain significant levels of magnesium and potassium, which can be low after a night on the drink. Studies also show that leafy greens could help liver health in the long term, meaning that as a regular part of your diet, your liver may be more efficient at removing alcohol from your body.
Studies in animals suggest that the juice from Asian pears can help increase alcohol hydrogenase, helping reduce symptoms. There has been little work directly on humans, but one study showed that when mixed with other fruit, pears can significantly reduce headaches after drinking alcohol. While more research is needed, the signs are optimistic that it may help reduce hangover symptoms.
Clearly, if you don’t want a hangover, then your best not to drink! However, if it’s already too late, what you eat might help you relieve some of the symptoms. Not only this, but these options are healthy additions to most diets, so you certainly wouldn’t be doing yourself any harm if you do try them.
- “Influence of food commodities on hangover based on alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase activities” by Shraddha Srinivasan, Kriti Kumari Dubey and Rekha S. Singhal, 17 September 2019, Current Research in Food Science.
- “Ginger from Farmyard to Town: Nutritional and Pharmacological Applications” by Jeremiah Oshiomame Unuofin, Nelisiwe Prenate Masuku, Oluwatomiwa Kehinde Paimo and Sogolo Lucky Lebelo, 26 November 2021, Frontiers in Pharmacology.
- “Natural Products for the Prevention and Treatment of Hangover and Alcohol Use Disorder” by Fang Wang, Ya Li, Yu-Jie Zhang, Yue Zhou, Sha Li and Hua-Bin Li, 7 January 2016, Molecules.
- “Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Liver Diseases 2014” by Yong-Song Guan, 28 June 2015, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
- “Effect of Mixed Fruit and Vegetable Juice on Alcohol Hangovers in Healthy Adults” by Min-Ju Kim, Sang-Wook Lim, Jong-Hyun Kim, Da-Jeong Choe, Jung-In Kim and Min-Jung Kang, 2018, Preventive Nutrition and Food Science.