Oh, a hangover - nausea, dehydration, fatigue. Why is it that the things that hang over from the night before have to be so nasty? The kinds of stuff you might wish would hang over - fun memories of a party, laughter, or the snow angels you and a friend made on the way home - can all get drowned out by a pounding headache and a churned-up belly.
The best way to avoid a hangover is to drink in moderation and know your limits. But if you drink beyond your limits this holiday season, take these hangover relievers to HEART:
Hydrate: Drink water, a vitamin-packed smoothie, a calcium-fortified fruit juice, or nearly any beverage that is not alcohol! Avoid caffeine, too. It'll give you a false sense of alertness.
Seems strange that drinking alcohol, which is a liquid, could make you more and more dehydrated, doesn't it? But it's true: alcohol is a diuretic, which means it stimulates urine production, which in turn causes more frequent trips to the washroom, which then leaves you … all dried up. Dehydration can make you dizzy, lightheaded, and even thirstier than when you first started in on the pretzels, peanuts, or party mix.
Eat: Seek out food to raise your blood sugar without turning your stomach. Alcohol causes your blood sugar to drop, leaving you shaky, weak, and worn out.
Bland foods will work best - think crackers, toast, or bananas. Scramble up some eggs to go with that toast while you're at it. Cysteine, an amino acid found in eggs and other mild foods such as oats and yogurt, may have detoxifying properties. It binds to harmful substances and helps your liver flush out toxins. Breakfast time!
Act against acid: Another side effect of alcohol is the way it churns up your stomach acids. Acids irritate your stomach lining, which can lead to discomfort, nausea, and vomiting, as well as acid reflux and heartburn.
Quell the burn with antacids or natural digestive aids, such as ginger or peppermint . If you feel hungry and must eat, again, think mild - broccoli, brown rice, or oats. Your body will appreciate these snacks so much more.
Rest: Draw the curtains, slip on a sleep mask, and rest as much as you can.
The consequences of too much drinking can wear your body out. All these weird and disruptive processes kick in - your blood vessels expand and cause monstrous headaches, your stomach acids are rocking and rolling, and your blood sugar takes a dip. Your body needs a rest. Unfortunately, post-drinking sleep is not the most restful or satisfying.
Time: You can hydrate, eat some bland-but-healthy foods, medicate against acid and the thump of a headache. You can sleep the morning away. But ultimately, only time can cure a hangover. Your body has to recuperate from the chaos you've caused it. Be patient.
For a quick print version of the HEART hangover relievers, click here.
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