After an evening of drinking alcohol, you may find yourself waking up to a throbbing headache, unbearable nausea, excessive thirst, and extreme fatigue.
You are hungover, but not to worry — you are not alone. According to Dr. Coupet, alcohol enters the bloodstream within minutes of your first sip and is then absorbed by the digestive tract — starting in the stomach before it is processed by the liver — as your body works to break it down, also known as alcohol metabolism.
Although the bulk of alcohol metabolism occurs in the liver, it is believed that some alcohol metabolism can occur in the pancreas and brain, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
But what if you want to enjoy a few cocktails and not feel terrible the following day? There are a few things you can do to ease the pain.
- Drink Water to Avoid Dehydration
“The alcohol in your drink acts as a diuretic, which can make you urinate more,” explains Kennedy. “This can lead to dehydration, which is one of the major causes of hangover symptoms.”
In other words, that desert-level thirst that wakes you up in the wee hours of the morning is a signal that you’re well on the way to hungover. The amount of water that you take in should equal that amount you lose, and alcohol can upset this balance.
“If you know you’ll be drinking that night, stay well-hydrated throughout the day and have plenty to drink before heading to bed,” she says. And if you do wake up with a hangover, do your best to drink as much water as you can. “Even having little sips every so often will help.”
- Drink Other Fluids to Restore Electrolytes
“Because alcohol is a diuretic and you’re urinating a lot, you’re also losing electrolytes, and you can experience dizziness, nausea, and cramping as a result” says Malamet, who credits an electrolyte imbalance as one of the leading causes of feeling fatigued from a hangover.
Research published in February 2015 in the Journal of Research published in February 2015 in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that drinking electrolytes after long periods of dehydration can significantly help restore important minerals, like sodium, potassium, and calcium.
What electrolyte-rich drinks should you reach for? Kennedy recommends sports drinks and broth to help restore and replace lost electrolytes and to get you back on the mend faster.
- Eat Nutrient-Rich Food Before and After Drinking
To prevent a hangover, past research has shown pairing alcohol with food can help your body more efficiently metabolize the alcohol. The digestion of food before or during alcohol consumption can help increase anti-diuretic hormone levels (ADH), sugar fructose, and blood flow to the liver, all which work to help your body more quickly break down alcohol.
Experts recommend reaching for fruits like bananas, because they are chock full of minerals like potassium that alcohol can deplete.
- Try Ginger to Ease Nausea
Doctors and nutritionists alike agree that ginger is one of the best natural remedies for soothing an upset stomach, which is often a common symptom of a hangover.
“Ginger can aid digestion and in this way can ease stomach upset,” explains Kennedy, who credits alcohol irritating the lining of the stomach as one of the reasons for hangover-related nausea.
You can enjoy this superfood in many different ways. For soothing an upset stomach, try brewing some ginger tea or mixing fresh ginger into a smoothie.