Libations make for lively conversations and feel like a relaxing and celebratory thing to do…. Until the next day when we say to ourselves, did I really drink that much? The potential problem with drinking is drinking over your personal limit which can cause the dreaded hangover. For some, that’s 2 glasses of red wine, and for others, it’s 5 martinis. Whatever it is for you, we’re going to go over a few reasons why hangovers happen and what you can do about them.
Why hangovers happen
According to research, here are some identifiable causes for hangovers.
- Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic, which is a substance that causes you to urinate more frequently. If you lose fluids faster than you’re able to replace them, you can become dehydrated. Dehydration may lead to hangover symptoms like headaches, dizziness, dry mouth and mental fog.
- Inflammation: People with hangovers have been found to have higher levels of certain cytokines in their blood. Cytokines are proteins that your immune system releases when it detects a threat. They’re a key part of the inflammation process, which sets your body’s defenses in motion. Inflammation causes undesirable symptoms like pain, swelling and redness around injuries. When the “threat” to your body is alcohol, inflammation may be to blame for symptoms like aches, tiredness and irritability.
- Toxin buildup: When alcohol breaks down in your system, it releases a harmful chemical called acetaldehyde. This toxin builds up in your brain and tissues, causing flushing, nausea and a number of other symptoms. So when you’re yourstomach is hurting, and you’re sweating more than usual, you can blame acetaldehyde.
Why some people are more sensitive to hangovers than others
Do you feel like your hangover is worse than your BFF’s even though you've had the same number of drinks? The severity of hangovers can depend on how much and how quickly you drank, along with these variables:
- Age: As you get older, your liver, kidneys and immune system all work at a slower pace, causing alcohol and its toxins to stay in your system longer. It’s a downward spiral so make sure to detox as often as possible as you “mature”.
- Gender: Drink for drink, alcohol tends to affect women more than men. Sucks, but apparently true. So, watch out ladies if the guys are competing in a round of beer pong!
- Genetics: Certain people inherit a genetic mutation, which causes their body to turn alcohol into acetaldehyde at a faster rate than the average person. That makes the toxin build up in their system more quickly than they’re able to eliminate it through urine. They may even start to experience symptoms like flushing while they’re still drinking. People with East Asian heritage, like myself, are prone to this condition. I could never hide that I was drinking because my face turns bright red!
- Belly Stats: You’re more likely to get drunk and have a wicked hangover if you drink on an empty stomach. That’s because alcohol is absorbed from your digestive tract and into your bloodstream faster when there’s no food to slow it down. So be sure to load up on some protein and good oils before hitting the bar!
- Drink of Choice: Have you heard the phrase, "Beer before liquor you’ve never been sicker?” There may be something to that saying because each type of alcohol contains different chemicals and stays in your system for varying lengths of time so blending them together may open you up to a longer list of symptoms. Dark alcohols such as whiskey and cognac contain substances called congeners that form during the alcohol fermentation process and make hangovers worse. They also take a longer time to leave your system than alcohol, which may cause hangovers from dark beverages linger.
Try only drinking one type of alcohol for the evening. Opting for clear alcohols like vodka or white wine may help you to avoid headache-inducing congeners. Also, alternate alcohol with water throughout the night to protect against the effects of dehydration. Electrolytes are minerals like calcium and potassium, which your heart, kidneys and other organs need to carry out key functions. Using sports drinks or anti-inflammatory drinks in-between cocktails may help prevent from an unwanted next-day hangover. Just be careful not to alternate drinks with sugar. Both alcohol and sugar are dehydrating and both are processed through the liver. The liver has a hard enough time processing alcohol. Adding sugar that also has to be processed by the liver can make hangovers worse because the liver may not be able to process it, and the unprocessed sugar adds to your dehydration.
Morning After Tips
If you do wind up with a hangover despite your best efforts, here are some tips to get you through the day:
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink plenty of water to ease dehydration symptoms and help you flush toxins out of your system.
- Try using IN:MOTION, which has anti-inflammatories and Vitamin C, both helpful to helping your body recover. If your hangover is really bad, you may need a second dose a few hours after the first.
- Hair of the dog? A Bloody Mary may help you feel better for a bit, but it also might perpetuate your hangover. This is a personal choice but I think your liver will thank you if you opt for a non-alcoholic alternative.
Rest, hydration, and herbal anti-inflammatories are sure to help you feel better in your time of need.
Wishing you a happy new year and may 2020 bring you much health and happiness!!!