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It’s the party season and, no matter how much we vow we won’t over indulge, many of us will be well on our way to a hangover at some point during the holidays.

08.01.2014 - Unfortunately, the only surefire way to prevent a hangover is to not drink to excess.  However, there are several things you can do to prepare for a heavy night and to help relieve symptoms once they have appeared.

Making sure you eat correctly before, during and after drinking can help enormously, partly because food helps to reduce the formation of acetaldehyde in your stomach: the substance thought to be the main cause of hangovers.   Fat can also slow down the absorption of alcohol, and vitamins and minerals need to be upped, as your body also uses lots when metabolising alcohol and alcohol itself also destroys essential B vitamins.  Thus, eat foods such as olive oil, meat, dairy products, nuts, and oily fish (salmon, trout and mackerel) and choose fruit juice mixers.

Mixing drinks is your worst enemy, so stick with one type (beer, wine or a particular spirit).  Try to drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you have.  Dehydration is one of the major causes of hangover symptoms like thirst, dizziness and headaches, so also have a big glass before you start, and some more before you go to bed.

The following morning have more water or even a sports drink such as Gatorade, which will not only help relieve dehydration but will also replace needed electrolytes.  Then eat a healthy and hearty breakfast.  Scrambled eggs on toast is perfect.   Eggs contain cysteine, which helps breaks down acetaldehyde in the body, the toast will soak up any excess alcohol left in your stomach and the whole will provide proteins and B vitamins. 

Eat fresh fruits for their high vitamin and water content, bananas in particular as they are a good source of potassium.  However, good as it initially feels, greasy food the morning after a drinking bout will probably only add to gastrointestinal discomfort as it irritates the stomach and intestines.

Also, take care with painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen.  Painkillers should not be taken whilst you still have high levels of alcohol in your system.  They may well reduce headaches and muscle pain the morning after, but should never be used if you have abdominal pain or nausea as they can worsen gastric symptoms.  And make sure you are well hydrated before taking them so you are not further attacking already beleaguered kidneys.  

Finally, when you go to bed under the influence, your quality of sleep is usually very poor, contributing to the tired and groggy feeling next morning, so go back to bed if you can: though some people advocate exercise as a great hangover cure so you could always go out for a short jog!

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