With the holiday season upon us, and New Year's Eve around the corner, how does one avoid the dreaded morning-after hangover? Tamarah Chaddah, ND, and Mardi Baum, ND of Puremedica Naturopathic Practice, explain what's going on and offers their top seven tips to help avoid or mend a hangover.

What is a hangover?

Generally, the more alcohol you consume, the more likely you are to develop a hangover, but there are no hard and fast rules.   Symptoms include diarrhea, headache, fatigue, thirst, nausea, and shaking.  Occasionally, you can experience rapid heartbeat, increased sensitivity to light and sound, and vertigo (a spinning sensation).

What's happening to the body?

  • Alcohol, being a diuretic, increases urine output and dehydrates the body.  This can explain why someone might experience thirst, headache, and vertigo after a night of heavy drinking.
  • Alcohol also tends to act as an irritant to the stomach lining.  By increasing acid output, it leaves you susceptible to abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.
  • With excessive alcohol consumption, your liver becomes busy breaking down the alcohol instead of performing its normal duty of supplying the body's tissues and the brain with glucose (the body's main energy source).  Consequently, your blood sugar levels fall, which can lead to fatigue, shakiness, and even mood disturbances.


Puremedica's top 7 tips to help you avoid or mend a hangover.

1. Drink responsibly

'Tis the season to indulge in food and alcohol.  While some of this is ok throughout the holiday season, it is important to know your limits. The number one way to avoid a hangover is to drink moderately. NOTE that females have a lower percentage of water in their bodies when compared to men, making ingested alcohol more concentrated. Therefore, it takes a smaller amount of alcohol to cause intoxication in females.

2. Drink Fluids

Alcohol promotes urination so it's easy to become dehydrated on a night of heavy drinking.  If you go on to experience diarrhea, vomiting or sweating, this can exacerbate the dehydration.

  • Follow each alcoholic drink with a drink of water to ensure you stay hydrated.
  • If you're suffering from a hangover, supplementing with water or an electrolyte drink can do wonders for your recovery.  (Zoomer recommends: Hydralyte, a new, good tasting oral rehydration supplement from Australia, boasting more of the much-needed electrolytes for treating dehydration symptoms. Convenient sachets and effervescent tablets fit in your handbag or wallet. Keep a backup stash at home for bedtime hydration. Available at drug stores across Canada.)
  • Coconut water is an excellent natural source of electrolytes.
  • Some say that the "hair of the dog", an alcoholic beverage consumed at the start of a hangover, is a cure-all.  The truth is, it may only postpone your symptoms and delay recovery.

3. Eat Up

Drinking lowers your blood sugar so it's essential to eat sufficiently prior or during consuming alcohol.

  • Try to consume good fats such as avocado, nuts and seeds as this will slow the absorption of alcohol into your blood stream.
  • If you find yourself suffering from the fatigue and headaches of a hangover, opting for a carbohydrate rich meal will help normalize your blood sugar levels.
  • Do steak and eggs really kick a hangover? Potentially. Eggs contain cysteine that helps break down the hangover-causing toxins in the liver. As for the steak, eat before drinking.
  • Bananas may also be a good choice.  They are packed with potassium, which will help to boost your depleted electrolytes.

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