The party train comes to a screeching halt when a person wakes up exhausted with a dry mouth, a headache, and an upset stomach. It’s a terrible hangover! Hangovers are caused by a combination of excess ethanol and dehydration caused by drinking too much alcohol. The amount of alcohol consumption necessary to cause a hangover depends heavily on the chemical makeup of the person’s body and the type of alcohol that has been consumed. There are plenty of “old wives’ tale” style remedies that are said to cure hangovers, but these hangover foods rely on nutrients to stop a hangover in its tracks.

What causes a hangover?

Hangovers happen for a variety of reasons. Excess levels of ethanol, a chemical found in all alcoholic drinks, has a poisoning effect on the body. Even if a person does not suffer from full-fledged alcohol poisoning, high bodily ethanol levels cause the sickly feeling of a hangover. Many dark alcoholic drinks have an ingredient called congener. Congeners are chemicals that make alcohol taste better, but they also exacerbate the unpleasant effects of a hangover. There is a higher risk of a hangover when a person consumes of a drink with congeners.

It is possible for a person who has not become drunk to suffer from a hangover. One glass of wine, five bottles of beer, and one shot of whiskey are all amounts of alcohol that can make a person have a hangover. Whether or not a person will have a hangover depends heavily on their body and what they have eaten before, during, and consuming alcohol.

Best hangover foods

If a person lies in bed with an empty stomach, the hangover will last longer. When a person starts to eat other foods, the digestion process kickstarts the metabolism to process and expel the excess alcohol quickly. Rather than eating foods that will make an upset stomach worse or increase dehydration, it is important to eat the right foods. Fruits and vegetables are very effective, but it is important to choose the right ones. A hangover means the body has been depleted of nutrients. Proper foods can replenish the very vitamins and mineral the body is missing.

While it may not seem to be extremely nutritious, bread is a wonderful hangover food. Bread raises the blood sugar, and excessive alcohol consumption, along with the ensuing urinating and vomiting, leaves the body with very low blood sugar. Low blood sugar can be responsible for the shakiness and headaches often associated with hangovers, so raising the blood sugar can make a person feel much better.

All of the unpleasant side effects of a hangover come from having too much alcohol within the stomach and bloodstream. There is one way to reduce those levels of alcohol without waiting for the body to excrete it as waste. Attack the ethanol at the chemical level by eating foods with antioxidants. Glutathione is one antioxidant that breaks down ethanol, and eggs have an amino acid that triggers the body to start making more glutathione.

Alcohol is a diuretic, so consuming too much of it can leave a person dehydrated. When athletes sweat a lot, also losing lots of water, they drink Gatorade and other sports drinks to regain an internal electrolyte balance. Bananas are high in potassium and other electrolytes. These are also perfect hangover fruits because bananas are easy on an upset stomach. Patients who are recovering from the stomach flu are often encouraged to eat bananas to ease themselves back into solid foods. Watermelon and tomato juice are also known for restoring the body’s water and electrolyte balances.

Avocados are also great hangover foods because they are high in potassium, which addresses the dehydration issue. In addition to potassium, avocados are also high in vitamin B6, omega-3 fatty acids, and carotenoids. Fatty acids help maintain the health of the brain, heart, and other visceral organs. Since all alcohol consumption puts the liver under stress, it is good to give that important organ a boost during a hangover. B6 and carotenoids are both supportive of muscle health, which can help ease the pain of muscle aches that often come along with hangovers. Nuts also have the same kinds of fats that support the organs in processing alcohol in the most effective manner.

Spinach is the perfect food for making hangovers easier to cope with. Spinach is a naturally high source of folate. Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, is known as one of the best vitamins to help cure a hangover.

Other ways of preventing hangovers

Regardless of the drink and the person’s size, each individual body has unique genetic and chemical factors that can predispose a person to have a hangover. It is important for any adult who chooses to drink to understand his or her individual tolerance for alcohol. Some people can drink huge amounts of alcohol without getting drunk or having a hangover. For others, one drink is enough to make the person violently ill.

How much is too much? That depends on the person. A person who understands their personal limits should never cross that threshold and avoid being around people and places who encourage them to do otherwise. The human body treats excess levels of alcohol as poison. One night of overdrinking can be lethal.

A person should never drink on an empty stomach, and it is important to remain hydrated (with a non-alcoholic drink) before, during, and after and drinking session. Following these tips makes a hangover less likely and decreases the severity of any possible hangovers.