For most people who don't have the lucky hangover-resistant genes, drinking at parties and celebrations comes with an inevitable hangover the next day.
But the pounding headaches and upset stomachs don't always have to be the aftermath of an alcohol-filled New Year's Eve outing. Here are seven wise tricks to ward off a brutal hangover. (Of course, the best way to avoid a hangover is to not down too much booze the night before.)
1. Clear drinks
Light-colored drinks, such as gin and vodka, cause a milder hangover than darker drinks, such as bourbon or whiskey, according to research. The reason appears to be what are called congeners, or toxic substances produced during alcohol fermentation. Clear drinks that are distilled many times contain lower concentrations of these congeners. [11 Surprising Facts About Hangovers]
2. No bubbles
Those bubbles in your beer and champagne can contribute to a hangover's severity, by increasing alcohol levels in the blood. The gas in carbonated beverages relaxes the sphincter between the stomach and the small intestine. The alcohol then can get into the intestines faster, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream.
3. Choice of mixer
Mixing liquor with a diet soda may sound healthier than drinking it straight up or with a full-calorie beverage, but it may also increase intoxication.
In one study detailed in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, in April 2013, people who had taken their vodka with diet sodas had higher blood alcohol levels than people who had downed an equal amount of vodka mixed with regular soda. The reason may be that the sugar in regular sodas keeps the stomach busy, and the alcohol doesn't reach the small intestine as quickly, the researchers suggested.
4. Have a drink of water
Water is the silver bullet to hangovers. One of the main contributing factors to hangovers is dehydration. Alcohol suppresses the hormone vasopressin, which regulates the water levels in the body and causes the body to lose more water in the urine.
To counteract these effects of alcohol, doctors suggest following each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water.
5. Eat protein-rich snacks
Drinking on an empty stomach is a recipe for the worst hangovers. Anything that fills the stomach and keeps it busy during drinking can help prevent a severe hangover, but the best choice may be protein-rich snacks. Meat, nuts and cheese take longer to digest than most other foods.
6. Smoking makes it worse
The nicotine in tobacco and e-cigarettes might bring a brutal hangover by making people drink more. Some studies have suggested the two compounds boost the pleasurable effects of each other, which results in more smoking, and, in turn, more drinking.
Conversely, other studies have found that nicotine dampens the effect of alcohol, forcing people to drink more to get the buzz they are looking for.
Whichever is the case, anecdotal evidence strongly supports the idea that nicotine and alcohol go hand-in-hand, and that smoking when drinking simply means more drinking.
7. Dance it away
Using the alcohol-induced extra energy to hit the dance floor may keep you from drinking shot after shot. It also enhances the body's overall metabolic rate, which can clear alcohol out of the bloodstream faster, helping to prevent a severe hangover.
What's more, dancing is fun. The occasion, after all, is one to celebrate.
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