How to Prevent a Hangover
Here are our best hangover prevention tips to avoid feeling sick the next day, plus some ideas for how to cure the after-effects of alcohol if you've already woken up in rough shape.
Sometimes, the easiest way to cure a hangover is to prevent one in the first place. If you're prepared for a night of drinking and have a hangover prevention plan, you can avoid feeling sick the next day. Here are our best hangover prevention tips from doctors and experts, as well as potential remedies if the hangover symptoms still hit the morning after a big night out.
How to Prevent a Hangover: Before You Drink
Eat fatty foods. All foods, especially fatty ones, delay the body's absorption of alcohol, say doctors. And delaying the absorption of alcohol is a good step toward avoiding a hangover. An easy food to eat before going out that's filled with healthy fats is avocado–guacamole for the table, please!
Eat high-fiber foods. Chris Meletis, a dean at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, in Portland, Oregon, says high-fiber foods–like vegetables–break down alcohol and absorb it, keeping it from reaching the bloodstream as quickly.
Take Vitamin C. Often touted for its cold-fighting powers, vitamin C may also guard against hangover symptoms.
Try Hangover Prevention Formula. Two hours before you plan to start drinking, and on an empty stomach, down one capsule of this mixture of B vitamins and prickly-pear extract ($25; amazon.com) , which you can find over-the-counter at drugstores. Jeffrey Wiese, an assistant professor of medicine at Tulane University, says Hangover Prevention Formula speeds up production of heat-shock proteins, which help the body fight stress and inflammation. Real Simple testers said the supplement prevented the headache they usually get from one glass of red wine. One tester drank much more heavily and gave HPF high marks the next morning.
How to Prevent a Hangover: While You Drink
Avoid congeners. What are these, exactly? Congeners are the compounds that give liquor its flavor and color, and many turn into poisonous aldehydes as they are digested the next day. "Opt for lighter-color, highly filtered alcohol," says Wiese. Typically, the more expensive the alcohol, the more filtered it is and the fewer congeners there are to cause a hangover. SKYY Vodka, for instance, makes a point of its "four-column distillation," "three-step filtration," and "exceptional purity."
Stick to one kind of drink. You can keep better track of how much you're drinking, and you're less likely to upset your stomach.
Avoid carbonation. Richard Deitrich, M.D., an alcohol researcher at the University of Colorado, says carbonation can cause the surface area of the stomach to expand, which means increased alcohol absorption. The bubbles in champagne and tonic water, in particular, speed up the rate of absorption.
Alternate with water. Guzzling water keeps you from guzzling the hard stuff, and it keeps you hydrated, which is key to hangover prevention because alcohol is dehydrating.
Order onion soup gratinee. Onions are high in sugar, which speeds the body's metabolism and burns alcohol, and the cheese is dairy, which slows alcohol's entry into the bloodstream.
How to Prevent a Hangover: After You Drink
Drink lots of water. Think of it as a cleansing rinse cycle.
Drink fruit juices. There is some evidence that fructose, the sugar in fruit, burns alcohol. According to doctors, fructose will also restore a person's blood sugar level. (Watch out, though, for a sugar rush and the ensuing crash.)
Drink Pedialyte. Like bland Gatorade for vomiting babies, Pedialyte ($5; target.com) replenishes sugars and fluid-balancing electrolytes, which is essential during a hangover.
Forget the bloody Mary. The tomato juice's vitamin C builds up resistance, and the Tabasco's capsicum acts as a pain reliever, but the additional alcohol intake only postpones the hangover a little longer.
Eat bland carbohydrates. They absorb any alcohol left in the stomach, provide sugar, and combat nausea.
Eat eggs. Eggs contain the chemical N-acetyl-cysteine, which can help clear the liver of harmful free radicals. Here are 11 easy egg recipes you can ease your hangover with.
Eat honey. The National Headache Foundation recommends a piece of toast slathered with fructose-loaded honey.
Try activated charcoal. Doctors says this fine powder helps absorb impurities (that's why emergency rooms use it when pumping stomachs). But it also tastes like biting into a briquette.
Try Livercare. These herbal tablets ($29; amazon.com) have been proven to block the evil acetaldehyde, but after taking it, Real Simple's testers were still slightly hung over the next day.
Try milk thistle. Its active ingredient helps detoxify the liver, although milk thistle ($13; amazon.com) doesn't do anything for a hangover headache.
Try Blowfish for Hangovers. These tablets ($12; amazon.com) contain caffeine and aspirin, which offer energy and headache relief. But too much aspirin can cause stomach bleeding in some drinkers.
Take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, like ibuprofen. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories provide headache relief without upsetting the stomach—just don't make them a habit since some doctors believe they react with alcohol to damage the liver.
Take Pepto-Bismol. The familiar pink stuff ($10; cvs.com) eases stomach discomfort, replenishes electrolytes, and dampens heartburn. Like some other hangover remedies, it won't do anything to shake that headache, though.