At one point or another, we've all experienced the headaches, nausea and extreme fatigue caused by downing one too many. And we've all vowed, Never again. Moreover, hangovers cost the U.S. economy tens of billions (!) of dollars a year, according to Quartz. So what can you do to fix your life and the economy? Glad you asked.
While there may not be a foolproof cure for hangovers, there are several measures you can take before, during and after you drink to lessen the blow. Below, find 9 expert tips to having the most blissful of hangovers, so you can get on with your day as quickly as possible:
1. WATER, WATER, WATER.
This may be a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people forget to guzzle down H2O when consuming alcohol.
Drinking a lot of water when you're out or when you have a hangover is always a good idea, says Dr. George Koob, Ph.D., Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which conducts research on the impact of alcohol use on human health.
2. Gobble up vitamin-rich food.
Dr. Jason Burke, M.D., an anesthesiologist and founder of the medical clinic Hangover Heaven, which delivers onsite IV treatments for hangover sufferers in Las Vegas, stresses the importance of eating foods rich with B vitamins and energy-revitalizing antioxidants before going out.
For dinner, he recommends staying away from fatty foods like fries and Coke, and going with these foods instead:
- Steak with spinach or kale and a cranberry salad: Spinach and kale contain both vitamins and antioxidants, while red meat contains large amounts of B vitamins.
- Salmon: It has omega fatty acids which help reduce oxidative stress.
- Liver: It has the highest B vitamin content of any meat.
Chowing down before hopping into bed can help too, as well as eating breakfast. Here are some of his suggestions for what to eat before bed, and when you wake up:
- Eggs and cheese: Both contain amino acid cysteine, which your body uses to make the powerful antioxidant glutathione.
- Bacon: It has a high concentration of B vitamins, which can help eliminate toxins.
- Fruit: Stick with fruits that have high antioxidant content, like blueberries and strawberries.
3. When imbibing, go with clear liquor.
Your liquor of choice plays a factor in the severity of your hangover. That's because different alcoholic beverages have different amounts of congeners, toxic substances produced during fermentation.
A 2010 study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that high-congener, dark-colored liquors like bourbon and whiskey can cause worse hangovers than their light-colored counterparts.
If you want to mitigate your hangover, Dr. Burke recommends going with gin or vodka.
4. Despite its appeal, skip the cheap stuff.
High-quality types of alcohol have fewer contaminants and impurities, Dr. Burke says. Cheap alcohol has more toxins and can cause worse hangovers. Though most alcohol contains funky substances, like methanol, it's more highly concentrated in cheap liquor. That methanol gets metabolized into formaldehyde in the body, which results in that UGH feeling.
Dr. Burke also recommends staying away from Jägermeister. "There is no telling what is in there. Some of the worst hangovers I have seen have involved Jägermeister," he says. "It may just be the case that people have to be really, really drunk to be able to drink that stuff."
5. And skip caffeinated mixers.
Caffeinated mixers can increase dehydration. (Hey, remember water?)
What's more, the combo is dangerous for your health. Research shows that people who drink caffeine with their booze are less able to estimate how impaired they are, which can lead to binge drinking (and corresponding major hangover) and, more critically, dangerous behaviors like drunk driving.
6. Avoid smoking. (Though you really shouldn't be smoking anyway.)
Experts agree that smoking while drinking can make a hangover worse. In a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 113 college students tracked their alcohol and tobacco use as well as their hangover symptoms for eight weeks. Researchers found that when students drank and smoked, the combination increased the severity of a hangover.
7. Champagne? Eh, better not.
Dr. Burke recommends skipping champagne as it contains very high levels of acetaldehyde, which is a byproduct of the double fermentation that champagne undergoes. Also, the CO2 bubbles in champagne may speed up the absorption of alcohol, which gets you tipsy faster, a 2003 study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism found. And don't you want to make the most out of the night?
In terms of champagne and wine, champagne causes the worst hangovers, followed by white wine, then red wine. If you're a red wine lover, Dr. Burke recommends Bordeaux and Burgundy because those types cause less severe hangovers.
8. COFFEE, COFFEE, COFFEE.
Caffeine seems to stabilize blood vessel spasms in the brain, says Dr. Burke. "Caffeine is a mainstay of treatment for migraines and cluster headaches," he says. "A number of the pills [that treat] headaches are a combination of caffeine and ibuprofen or similar."
9. Forget everything you may have heard about "Hair of the dog."
Dr. Koob says alcohol may temporarily block a hangover, but it's definitely not a healthy way to go about preventing a hangover.
"It depends whether you want an intense and short hangover, or a milder and longer one," he says, adding that drinking more will just lead to a bigger hangover later on. You're only prolonging the misery.
Editor's Note: This piece has been edited following its initial publication.