Eat, Drink and Suffer

I can hardly believe it is that time of year again when men dress in red suits, waddle around saying “Ho, Ho Ho” and try to pass themselves off as the real Santa. Whilst we mere adults may not be able to pick the difference between these impersonators and the real thing, any five year old can tell you in seconds if you are with an impostor or in the presence of greatness.

It’s enough to make your head spin, just as a  few too many tipples may have the same effect on you this Christmas (if last year is anything to go by), so here are some “sure fire” hangover cures (or not).

Some people swear by the hair of the dog as a hangover cure, some sing the praises of aspirin and bananas or Vegemite and water, while others say that nothing is better than a good old-fashioned fried breakfast. Perhaps it is the alcohol that is making you delusional. According to a study by Rachel Vreeman and Aaron Carroll, of the Indiana University School of Medicine, it is not possible to cure a hangover. These learned doctors conducted a meta analysis of the literature and found no scientific evidence to support these claims.

Good studies were available evaluating the herb borage, the artichoke, prickly pear, Vegemite, fructose, glucose, tolfenamic acid and propranolol. None had any effect.

“From aspirin and bananas to Vegemite and water, internet searches present seemingly endless options for preventing or treating alcohol hangovers,” the doctors said. “No scientific evidence, however, supports any cure or effective prevention.”

A few small studies have suggested that fluid and salt replacement might be helpful. Hangovers also get better with time — thus whatever you have taken will eventually seem to work.

Of course prevention is better than cure, and Hooked on Health advocates  consumption in moderation only, but just in case you “lose your head” here are a few tips.

  • Most of the hangover symptoms you feel are caused by dehydration, so making sure you are well hydrated throughout the silly season (not just on the days you are socialising) will help to stave off dehydration.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the night along with your alcoholic drinks. Not only will this mean you drink less alcohol, but it will help to prevent dehydration.
  • Don’t drink alcohol right up to the time you go to bed. If you stop drinking a good hour before bedtime, your liver will have more chance of getting rid of the toxins before it slows down for the night.
  • A good sports recovery drink such as Endurox R4 may help as a tonic in the morning. It will help to replace some of the fluid and electrolytes you have lost.
  • Although the good doctors have not found scientifc evidence to support the use of supplements in the prevention of a hangover, I swear by supplementing with Vit C, B group vitamins and zinc prior to any likely tipple. A woman I studied nutrition with supplemented her son with these nutrients for 4 days prior to his 21st birthday party and not only did he not have a hangover, he didn’t feel the effects the alcohol at all! I don’t know that her son was too happy about that, but she certainly was.
  • Even if your favourite hangeover cure has no basis in science, your tried and trusted hangover cure will be good for your soul if nothing else.

You need to bear in mind that over indulgence in anything is going to take it’s toll on your body, and if you are planning a great year of fitness and training in 2010, don’t go overboard, or it will be that much harder to regain your fitness in the New Year. But… only live once!

If you have any tips for hangover prevention, please feel free to share them with the rest of us by posting below.


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