The truth is, water and time are the only things that will get rid of a hangover. Still, when we're hurting after a night of one too many, we turn to rumored remedies — anything to take the edge off. While nothing we eat can erase those last few drinks that got you here, some foods and drinks will help ease the symptoms of a hangover.
More on that in a minute. First, a quick primer on hangovers: Alcohol dehydrates the body and leaves it craving nutrients. Dehydration is the problem to tackle. It is at the root of most symptoms that we associate with hangovers, including headaches, dry mouth and fatigue.
Dr. John Brick, the alcohol research scientist who wrote The Doctor's Hangover Handbook, offers this morning-after plan: Rehydrate and eat light.
That means drinking water and lots of it. You might be craving a variety of foods, but it's best to keep things simple. Toast with honey or jam, Brick says. Simple sugars are easily broken down by the body and help to replenish energy-hungry cells, Brick says.
Sometimes when you're battling a hangover, nothing sounds better than the kind of breakfast food that sticks to your ribs (and thighs and chin…). You know the type: a fried egg-and-bacon sandwich, a two-handed breakfast burrito, biscuits and gravy. And hash browns. Lots of hash browns.
Breakfasts that are loaded with calories and carbs seem like the best thing to soak up the alcohol and coat the stomach. Brick says that's not the case, and in fact, the side effects of a gut-busting breakfast can be worse than the hangover itself.
"If it is not what you usually eat, you may get some GI distress" — that's gastrointestinal distress, like bloating, nausea, indigestion and diarrhea — "not what you want if you are also dealing with a hangover."
Instead, stick with Brick's simple plan: toast and jam or honey, plus water and a sports drink like Gatorade.
Some weekend warriors swear by bananas, which are said to restore the potassium lost during a binge and supply the body with natural sugars for a shot of energy. In short, it's not a cure-all, but it can't hurt either.
Even Dole, one of the largest banana producers in the world, stands by bananas as a hangover helper. The fruit might help make hangovers more bearable because bananas rehydrate the body and replenish vitamins B6 and C.
Pick your poison — mimosa, beer, bloody mary — it might take you back to your happy place for a bit, but booze won't work as a recovery drink.
Remember, alcohol dehydrates the body, so morning-after cocktails just create a vicious cycle. Brick says that drinking alcohol to relieve a hangover is at best a temporary solution that will probably make your hangover even worse later on.
Not the advice you were looking for? Belly up to a bar, and the person behind it is likely to offer his or her favorite hair-of-the-dog drink. This New York Magazine story rounds up bartenders' suggestions — Luc Carl of the Lower East Side club Ludlow Manor recommends the Midwestern Michelada: Beer, topped off with tomato juice and a splash of Tabasco.
Sports drinks like Gatorade replenish electrolytes and hydrate the body, making it one of your best choices for fighting a hangover, Brick says. Of course, it's not the only thing you need to drink. Make sure you get plenty of water, too.
Brick says to drink Gatorade (and water) before going to sleep, if you can remember and when you wake up for the best results.
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