There’s nothing worse than waking up with a pounding head, nausea, and an overall feeling of awfulness. The classic hangover – most of us know it well. Though the best cure for a hangover is prevention, there are definitely some simple hacks you can do to make your life A LOT easier the morning after.
Did you know that the feeling of being “buzzed” is a sign that your body’s detoxifying pathways are becoming overwhelmed? There’s a common misconception that hangovers are entirely caused from dehydration, and while dehydration is a key factor, there is definitely more to it. Drinking excess alcohol depletes the body’s vitamin and mineral stores, causing metabolic problems with detoxification, elimination, and overall bodily processes. The most important thing you can do to prevent a hangover is to keep providing your body with vitamins before, during, and after drinking. This intake of vitamins will make the biggest difference between waking up in pain versus waking up feeling pretty alright.
Of all the vitamins and minerals depleted from drinking, an important one is magnesium, which is a crucial anti-stress mineral that most people experiencing a hangover are deficient in. When the body has enough magnesium, it prevents platelet aggregation, avoiding thickened blood and blood clots that can cause vessel spasms and tension headaches associated with hangovers. Magnesium is a muscle relaxant, so it will loosen up tension in the head and neck muscles that will make a hangover headache feel worse. Magnesium is also a blood sugar balancer. The brain uses more blood sugar than any other part of your body, so it is important to keep your brain nourished. Alcohol can deplete the adrenal glands and prevent them from producing the proper amount of adrenaline to raise low blood sugar if needed, so magnesium is an important mineral to regulate blood sugar levels that keep your brain supported.
Another main contributor to hangover symptoms are inflammation and oxidative stress caused by alcohol. Put simply, oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and the body’s ability to detoxify these (and their harmful effects) with antioxidants. So in order to fight and neutralize these free radicals, make sure to load up on your antioxidants before, during, and after drinking. Consume nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants: acai, pomegranates, raspberries, blueberries, plums, oranges, cherries, kale spinach, broccoli, beets, etc. The classic vitamin C will also help reduce oxidative stress on your liver. Both magnesium and Vitamin C contain the enzyme that breaks down and eliminates alcohol in the body, aiding your liver in the detoxifying process. Try to replenish your body with a range of vitamins and minerals!
If shoving a bunch of greens and fruits into your mouth at 2am after drinking does not sound appealing, buy a few fresh cold-pressed juices and mix a couple with your alcohol during the course of your consumption and then drink up before you go to sleep and again in the morning! It’s an easy way to make sure you’re getting the nourishment you need so you can drink and have fun without packing a purse full of produce to the bar! Of course the most important thing is to listen to your body, stay hydrated, stay nourished, and respect your body’s metabolic processes by taking everything in moderation. But for the times when you go too far, support your body by using the above information and you will prevent that dreadful hangover (or at least make it a little more tolerable)!
Sources of magnesium: beet greens, spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, bananas
Sources of vitamin C: oranges, kale, red peppers, strawberries, broccoli, grapefruit
Sources of B vitamins: though the most common sources are found in meat and fish, some vegan foods high in B vitamins are pine nuts, spirulina, mushrooms, chia seeds, avocados, sweet potatoes, carrots, nutritional yeast, or of course, a good quality B complex supplement.
Sources of vitamin A: carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, apricots, squash, mango