You probably already know that consuming alcohol on an empty stomach is an excellent recipe for gnarly hangover symptoms. Or that drinking lots of water on a night out can make the next morning a little better. But plenty of other factors can affect the severity of alcohol's aftereffects. If you’re going to drink, drink smart, slow, and safe.
7 Things That Set You Up for a Serious Hangover
1. Your Low-Fat Diet. Eating a low-fat meal before a party seems like a good idea, as a counterweight to the extra calories you’re about to imbibe. But having a belly full of fatty foods will actually slow the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. That’s because fat sticks to your stomach lining longer, helping you to process the alcohol you drink at a slower pace. Choose healthy fats before your night out, like avocado, salmon, and olive oil.
2. Your Healthy Red Wine. Red wine is made with red grape skins, which contain high levels of the polyphenol resveratrol. Also found in blackberries and raspberries, resveratrol may provide defense against cancer and heart disease. Unfortunately, red wine also contains dark congeners, which are chemical byproducts of fermentation that create color and flavor – and really severe hangovers. Red wines along with dark beers and spirits will likely give you worse hangovers.
3. Your All-Cardio Workout. If you skip strength training on a regular basis, you might be setting yourself up for brutal hangover symptoms. Muscles contain water – more water than fat tissue. The bigger your muscles are, the more water that you already have in your system to balance out the alcohol you drink. You’ll feel its effects more slowly.
4. Your Bubbles. A glass of champagne or sparkling wine goes right to your head for a reason – all those little bubbles of carbon dioxide force the alcohol into your bloodstream faster. The quicker you get drunk, the worse your hangover will be. This also holds true for carbonated mixers like soda and soft drinks.
5. Your Pre-Bedtime Pill Pop. Save your headache meds until after you wake up. Putting acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) into your system at the same time as alcohol can severely damage your liver, which has to work double-time to process the chemicals in both. It can also irritate your stomach and intestinal tract. Instead, just drink a giant glass of water before bed. In the morning, choose an NSAID like ibuprofen (such as Advil).
6. Your Hair of the Dog. Many people swear by a morning-after drink to alleviate hangover symptoms like headache and nausea. It works – for a little while. But you’re really just delaying the inevitable. Your hangover will certainly return, and it will be even worse when it does. Choose water or a drink with electrolytes instead.
7. Your Lack of Sleep. Staying out several hours past your usual bedtime can make you feel like crap even when you didn’t drink a drop. When sleep deprivation is combined with alcohol, your hangover symptoms can be even more severe. At the very least, crank your air-conditioner down or open a few windows. A cooler temperature promotes better sleep, especially when your body is burning off all those margaritas.
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