Your head is pounding, the room is spinning, your undereye bags now have undereye bags, and the thought of a boozy brunch instantly makes you nauseous? Yep, sounds like one doozy of a hangover.
While the internet is flooded with cures and quick-trick remedies from IV drips to giant greasy cheeseburgers, if you actually have a hangover, we're positive you're not in the mood for experiments, especially when it comes to eating and drinking the next a.m. To aid in your relief, we consulted a nutritionist for her take on the hangover cures that are actually worth trying.
What Causes a Hangover?
The short and obvious answer? One too many drinks. The long, science-y answer? Acetaldehyde, or the byproduct of alcohol breaking down in your body, and dehydration, explained Keri Glassman MS, RD, CDN.
"Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it inhibits the pituitary gland from secreting vasopressin (antidiuretic hormone), which then causes the kidneys to reabsorb less water, and instead excrete it out of the body," Glassman explained. "This loss of water also causes an electrolyte imbalance."
This combo of dehydration and loss of electrolytes is the culprit behind not only your headaches but also the shakiness, fatigue, dizziness, and even muscle spasms, Glassman said.
"Alcohol can also have an inflammatory effect on your stomach lining and digestive system, which is a common cause of nausea and upset stomach," she added.
Sad but true: there's no magic elixir that will erase all your hangover symptoms in seconds. However, these food and drink choices could give you a leg up in recovery.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
"Some of your headache-y, weak, nausea symptoms are caused by dehydration, so you can help alleviate them by throwing back the fluids," Glassman said.
Turn to good ole H2O or coconut water to replenish your electrolytes, or follow Glassman's recipe and make yourself a DIY sports drink by mixing water, fresh squeezed juice, a pinch of sea salt, and honey.
Before you order that everything bagel with veggie cream cheese and a very large coffee, consider trying this pro tip from Glassman. "Your liver works in overdrive to neutralize the toxin acetaldehyde using an amino acid called l-cysteine," she explained. "Give your liver a hand by having eggs for breakfast, which are a source of l-cysteine."
Add a Banana to Breakfast
"They are high in the electrolyte potassium and are also a good idea if you're suffering from an upset stomach. A coconut water banana smoothie is a good way to wake up post partying," she noted.
Go For Ginger
Sick to your stomach? Ginger can aid in reducing nausea. Glassman suggested slicing a fresh ginger root and adding it to your water.
Pass on Hair of the Dog
"That whole 'hair of the dog' thing is a big ole myth," Glassman said. If anything, medical professionals say it could simply delay your hangover, and that's the best-case scenario.
If you do want to have a special bev at brunch, reach for a virgin bloody mary. "The vitamin C found in tomato juice is a potent antioxidant that can help your body fight the free radicals that are produced as your body detoxifies itself from alcohol," Glassman said.