How to beat the Christmas hangover

It’s party season and that can only mean one thing… hangovers from hell.

But what exactly is a hangover and why do some people suffer more than others?

Generally, a hangover is the term used to describe how the body reacts to drinking too much alcohol.

Typically, the day after a heavy drinking session you can expect to feel tired, have a headache (oh, the pounding headaches!), feel nauseous and possibly suffer from anxiety (dubbed hangxiety).

‘Alcohol is mainly metabolised by the liver by an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase,’ explains Dr James East, a gastroenterology consultant and an expert in gut health at Mayo Clinic Healthcare UK.

‘This breaks down alcohol at an average rate of one standard drink per hour. The alcohol is converted to acetaldehyde, which is responsible for many of the hangover symptoms. These symptoms typically begin when your blood alcohol content drops significantly and is at or near zero.

‘Symptoms may include fatigue or weakness, thirst or dry mouth, headache, muscle aches, nausea or vomiting, stomach pain, poor or decreased sleep, vertigo or dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, shakiness, decreased ability to concentrate, anxiety or irritability, sweating, and increased blood pressure.’

While most of us agree a good night out is worth a few of these unpleasant symptoms the next day, what you drink can greatly enhance a hangover and some people definitely suffer more than others.

‘Alcoholic beverages contain ingredients called congeners, which give many types of alcoholic beverages their flavour and can contribute to hangovers,’ says Dr East, who is also an adviser to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

‘Congeners are found in larger amounts in dark liquors, such as brandy and bourbon and red wine (often barrel-aged drinks), more than in clear liquors, such as vodka and gin. Congeners are more likely to produce a hangover or increase the severity of a hangover.

‘But drinking too much alcohol of any colour/kind can still make you feel bad the next morning, and most of the hangover relates to the quantity of alcohol rather than congeners.

‘Some people are also more susceptible to hangovers than others are. A genetic variation that affects the way alcohol is metabolised may make some people flush, sweat or become ill after drinking even a very small amount of alcohol.

‘Other reasons for some people suffering more than others include, having drank on an empty stomach, used drugs alongside alcohol, having not slept well or for long enough after drinking, and having consumed more darker coloured alcoholic beverages (containing congeners). Also, having a family history of alcoholism can sometimes have an effect — it may suggest an inherited problem with the way your body processes alcohol.’

We all know the dangers of over-consumption of alcohol so try and stay within in the recommended guidelines, and if you are planning to hit the bar lots this month, the NHS advises not to drink more than 14 units a week (equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or ten small glasses of low-strength wine).

The only way to prevent a hangover is to avoid alcohol, but Dr East says the old wives’ tale about lining your stomach before drinking actually has some truth to it. ‘Eat before and while drinking,’ he says.

‘As alcohol is absorbed more quickly if your stomach is empty and choose beverages with fewer congeners, and sip water to help your body stay hydrated. The next day, sip water or juice to prevent dehydration and snack on bland foods such as toast or crackers — these may boost your blood sugar and settle your stomach a bit.

‘Salty foods can also help to replace lost salt and potassium. Pain relief can help to ease any headaches you may be dealing with, but taking aspirin or ibuprofen can irritate the stomach lining which could already be inflamed due to alcohol intake. Paracetamol at standard doses is probably the best painkiller, if needed.’

If you need relief fast, try these hangover saviours…

Bounce Back

Created by two biochemists, Bounce Back is the ‘post-social replenishment drink.’

It’s a blend of 17 vitamins, minerals and amino acids to support the maintenance of normal liver function, reduce tiredness and fatigue and boost energy.

Buy for £2.49 from Drink Supermarket.

Fourfive CBD Effervescent Multivitamins

Alcohol is a diuretic, so the body loses nutrients and vitamins when we overdo it.

Replace them with Fourfive’s CBD Effervescent Multivitamins, which contains magnesium to help replenish electrolytes and speed recovery, plus 5mg of CBD, which helps calm anxiety.

Buy for £6 (20 tablets) from Fourfive.

Young LDN Hair Of The Dog facial

Young LDN is offering a Hair Of The Dog facial.

Located in Notting Hill, London it starts with an oxygen infusion that brings the blood flow and vital nutrients to the surface of your skin, LED light therapy then boosts hydration and plumpness and a cryoball massage will depuff.

You’ll leave with a fresh, energy-boosting juice.

Buy for £125 (one hour) from Young LDN.

Dr Vegan Debloat and Detox tablets

These Dr Vegan Debloat and Detox tablets help your body eliminate bloating and purify your liver.

Formulated with botanicals and amino-acids, milk thistle, silymarin, fennel, artichoke, dandelion, schisandra and L-Glutamine, you’ll feel right as rain in no time.

Buy for £16.99 (one month’s supply) from Dr Vegan.

Hangover Cure Kit

Food is crucial to curing a hangover and this limited-edition Hangover Cure Kit from Burger and Lobster contains lobster rolls, lobster croquettes, fries, plus four pre-mixed ‘hair of the dog’ Bloody Mary cocktails.

Each box comes with easy-to-follow instructions.

Buy for £55 (only 200 available per week) from Burger and Lobster.

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