The Science Behind the Hang

Hangover’s have been around since the dawn of alcohol. Even the bible makes reference to it:

Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink" (Isaiah 5:11)

Just picturing the big JC after a few nights on the vino waking up to the fear of last night’s antics. We are paraphrasing a bit but alcohol's ugly brother the hangover has always been there by its side. 

The dreaded hangover, the fear/paranoia of what may or may not have happened last night, and that paralysing headache. Today we delve into the science behind the hangover and how you can make your Saturday or Sunday morning less painful and more productive – so come Monday you don’t feel like you’ve wasted your whole weekend watching netflix in bed.

The Science

Science has got a rover to mars and gin to your mouths, but the best scientists have still yet to get to the bottom(s up) of hangovers. Perhaps they got too hands on with this study and as a result are incapcitated to complete their duties.

They used to think it had something to do with dehydration, after all alcohol is a diuretic, and as humans, we are not renowned for our ability to consume water between each adult beverage. However studies seem to have debunked this. What is true is that the liver needs water to metabolise alcohol – however when you drink, much like your favourite watering hole, the brain sends a bunch of doormen to your kidneys and they reject anything resembling water and, rather than absorb it into the bloodstream, send it straight to the bladder (now all those more frequent trips to the bathroom make sense). But we do drink more water than booze each time we have a refreshment - unless you're that nutter who enjoys a 60% gin neat of course - so a bit more research has found that in fact other factors, as well as dehydration come into play.

Toxins 

Congeners are the nasty toxins in booze. The rule here is the darker the spirit the more they show up. Like that unwanted group at a flat party who a friend of a friend invited, they're loud, aggressive and just won't leave. They'll probably nick your air refreshner too. So avoid excessive amounts of red wine, whisky and tequila slammers. Opt instead for gin (or juniper distilled spirits). Less toxins = Less of a hangover.

Go home liver, you're drunk!

When the liver metabolises alcohol it produces another toxin – one that is more toxic than alcohol itself!!  In small quantities the body can get rid of this quickly and easily, but as your liver gets more intoxicated, it has more trouble processing it – leading to a build up which in turn, makes those hangovers even worse!

Just like at the end of a bad relationship, the body after a night on the sauce, is rebounding from the effects of alcohol. This rebound ruins our sleep and we thus heal and recover even slower.

Some effective ‘cures’

There is no escaping a hangover but eggs, banana, water, fruit juice all help.  Avoid coffee, bloody mary’s and even fatty foods (but these actually do help during the night/prior to drinking - so do pop by to support your local kebab shop at some stage on your drunken adventure).  If it is really bad, pop an aspirin – but avoid anything that claims to be a hangover cure – if any of these were truly effective, we’d all be using it by now.  

To Recap

Eat before drinking (and maybe a little after). Drink water in between drinks. Drink in moderation. Pick your drinks wisely… choose light and pricey over dark and cheap. Pop an aspirin or two before bed with water and do the same in the morning after having an egg and banana filled brekkie accompanied with some fruit juice.

Voila. You can thank me on monday morning.

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