The only real way to prevent a hangover is to avoid alcohol. Nevertheless, there is an increasing number of products on the market that claim to prevent a hangover – most are a drink, elixir or supplement that you take before or after drinking. Many of them are expensive – such as this anti-hangover drink brand that costs $ 36 for a six-pack or this similar that costs $ 29 for a six-pack of drinks.
So what exactly is in these drinks, and can they really help you prevent or cure a hangover? Keep reading to find out what a registered dietitian thinks, and other scientifically based tips to prevent or care for a hangover.
What actually causes a hangover?
Alcohol, linked to lack of water and a late night is the perfect recipe to feel pretty bad the next day. But what does drinking a night with your body make you feel so bad?
According to dietitian Jennifer Maeng, two main factors play a role; first dehydration, followed by low blood sugar levels both of which are caused by ethanol. "The main cause of hangover is ethanol – the alcohol that has a moisture-wicking effect and dries you out. So ultimately, (a) hangover is due to dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration are tiredness, headache, nausea, and dizziness," Maeng said.
Have you ever wondered why you sometimes feel really hungry after drinking? According to Maeng, the founder of Chelsea Nutrition in New York City, this may be due to low blood sugar levels, which also contributes to your hangover. "Alcohol can prevent your body from maintaining tight blood sugar levels and causing low blood sugar levels. Symptoms of low blood sugar include fatigue, headache, and nausea," Maeng said. Those symptoms are known to anyone who has had a hangover before.
What are anti-hangover drinks and what do they have in them?
Antihangover drinks are specifically marketed to help you cure or prevent a hangover if you drink them before, during and / or after drinking alcohol.
of them contain vitamins, electrolytes and other special ingredients that claim that your body handles alcohol better than when you do not drink them. Many of them contain many herbs that are said to help the body (especially the liver) to remove alcohol quickly.
Two brands that I have found on the market, The Plug Drink and the Morning Recovery drink, look about the same because they contain vitamins, a blend of herbs intended to help the liver and dihydromyricetin. According to the More Lab website: "DHM helps your brain stay balanced and improves your body's natural ability to break down alcohol." (Note for both sites: I found it very difficult to find a complete ingredient list of what is in the drinks. Both had disclaimers below that the drinks and their statements were not approved by the FDA.)
When I asked dietitian Maeng about DHM, she said she could not agree with the claims. "One of the key ingredients in these drinks is DHM, which they believe alcohol has no intoxicating effects on the brain. But more research needs to be done into its effectiveness in preventing a hangover," Maeng said. "There is no magic hangover cure. But B-complex with C and electrolytes in the drink can be useful in preventing hangovers."
Basically, anti-hangover drinks have not been proven to cure a hangover or prevent one from happening in the first place.
What to do before, during and after drinking to prevent a hangover
If you don't want to drop a lot of money on dubious anti-hangover drinks, you can do several things instead to help hangover and be healthier to practice alcohol consumption.
What to do before you drink
There is a reason why you get much less drunk when you eat than when you drink on an empty stomach.
"Drinking on an empty stomach can irritate your digestive system and cause rapid absorption of alcohol. That's why I always advise my clients to eat high-protein and fatty snacks such as nuts before going to happy hour," Maeng said.