Friday, August 8, 2014

Minimizing Hangovers

Due to popular request and the time of year... I am re-posting this blog on hangovers. I hope this information makes for  more energetic Saturday and Sunday mornings!



The summer is a time when people tend to drink more than they do the rest of the year....barbecue’s, Whitebrier Happy Hour, having friends over for tropical drinks, and/or enjoying a nice cold beer (or two) after a long work week. For some people, all of these events are fun at the time, but the next day proves to be a dreadful experience due to the loathed HANGOVER.

A hangover occurs after the blood alcohol has returned to zero after excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol is toxic to the body, so it makes sense that drinking large quantities would wreak havoc on the body. Symptoms of a hangover can include, but are not limited to, headache, weakness, inability to concentrate, decreased activity, fatigue, thirst, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, chills, and shaking.

There are many reasons people experience hangovers including dehydration, changes in immune and endocrine metabolite production, build up of toxins (e.g: acetylaldehyde), gastritis, decreased sleep quality and duration, fatty liver, hypoglycemia, congener content of drinks (metabolites that flavor, scent, and color alcoholic beverages), alcohol withdrawal, and due to the obvious fact that alcohol is absolutely toxic to the human body. Alcohol is poison, so it makes sense that you wouldn’t feel that great after drinking it!

If you do choose to drink more than one to two drinks in a day, there are certain measures you can take to minimize the risk of a hangover and to ameliorate the symptoms once you experience them. While there is not a ton of research on hangovers, a few studies have been done in which I draw my recommendations from.

My recommendations to minimize hangovers:

1. Abstain from alcohol!!! (duhh)
2. Drink small, non-intoxicating amounts
…or…. If you must indulge:
3. Consume alcohol that has few congeners (pure ethanol, vodka, and gin)
4. Consume water with and between drinks
5. Consume alcohol with fructose-containing foods such as fruit and fruit juice
6. Consume solid foods that contain carbohydrates with and after drinks (such as bread)
7. Be sure to get a good nights sleep
8. Eat bland cracker-type foods to help with nausea and hypoglycemia
9. Antacids may help with nausea and gastritis
10. Ibuprofen may help with headache symptoms, just be sure not to consume until the next day since your liver cannot process both the alcohol and drugs at the same time!
11. Make sure you have a folate-rich diet which is needed to metabolize ethanol. Folate is found primarily in leafy greens and whole grains.
12. Exercise!

If the thought of a hangover isn’t reason enough to discourage you from drinking, here is some approximate calorie information on some popular alcoholic beverages:
Alcohol and Calorie Content

Alcohol Name
Serving size
Estimated Calories
Blue Moon Belgian White Beer
12 fl oz
164
Wine- red or white
5 fl oz
125
Cosmopolitan
Martini glass
200
Bloody Mary
4 fl oz
220
Shot of liquor (vodka, rum, gin, etc)
1.5 fl oz
100
Long Island Iced Tea
12 fl oz
790
Pina Colada
6 fl oz
300
Rum & Coke
10 fl oz
355
Old Fashioned
4 fl oz
180


If you get a hangover, you most likely didn’t just have one of these drinks. Do the math to see how many hundreds of calories you consume in just a short period from having “a few” drinks. If you start with a Pina Colada, but ease up and just have two light beers afterwards, you’ve already tacked on almost 550 calories to your daily totals. Visit my blog on beer and nutrition for more information: http://kellyspantry.blogspot.com/2010/12/beer-is-high-in-carbs-right.html. 
 If you are the type that can down a bottle of wine in a night… try to think of it as soda. Most people wouldn’t drink more than a liter of soda in one sitting, so why is alcohol any different?

So at your parties or weddings this weekend I want you to THINK before you DRINK. Think about whether the alcohol is worth the calories and the consequences. Do not drink in excess no matter how high of a tolerance you think you may have- alcohol is toxic, so too much can easily kill you. Have fun, drink responsibly, and enjoy the rest of your summer!


References:
Chapman, LF. Experimental induction of hangover. Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol 5(Suppl. 5):67–86, 1970.
"Liver and Alcohol Breakdown." MyDr.com.au. UBM Medica Australia, 21 Sept. 2009. Web. 26 June 2012. <http://www.mydr.com.au/gastrointestinal-health/liver-and-alcohol-breakdown>.
Pawan, GL. Alcoholic drinks and hangover effects. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 32(1):15A, 1973.
Swift R, Davidson D. Alcohol hangover: mechanisms and mediators. Alcohol Health Res World 1998; 22:54–60.
Verster, J. C. (2008). "The alcohol hangover-a puzzling phenomenon". Alcohol and Alcoholism 43 (2): 124–126

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