Whether you're ringing in the new year, celebrating St. Patty's Day, the arrival of spring, hosting a summer barbecue, or carving up a turkey, it's important to know how to prevent a hangover before the morning after a holiday celebration. Good news! Enjoying a few drinks doesn't mean you're destined to spend the next day sloth-like on the couch or hunched over a toilet. In fact, researchers are finding that your alcoholic choices and what you eat before, during, and after you drink could drastically reduce your risk of a morning hangover.
In the event that you do overindulge and find yourself feeling queasy and awful the morning after, reach for natural hangover-relieving food and drinks instead of the medicine cabinet, and you'll be feeling refreshed and back to your good old self in no time. Also, remember to choose organic foods when stocking up on foods to fight hangovers; your night out on the town has already given your liver enough to process, it shouldn't have to deal with breaking down toxic pesticides, too.
Eating asparagus before you go out or while you're drinking can help prevent or ease a next-day hangover, according to 2009 research out of Korea. Scientists found that extracts taken from the leaves and shoots of asparagus boosted levels of important enzymes that break down alcohol after heavy drinking. (Maybe bars should start putting this super veggie on the menu!) A researcher involved with the study says eating asparagus the next day can help tame hangovers, too.
Whether you choose an asparagus dish or not, be sure to eat before you drink, warns Aaron White, PhD, director of the Underage and College Drinking Prevention Research program at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Eating allows more of the alcohol to break down in the stomach before your body absorbs it. "Having food in the stomach while drinking results in a slow trickle of alcohol into the bloodstream, versus a rapid rise when one drinks on an empty stomach," White explains. "This means a smaller impact on the brain, less of a buildup of toxic by-products of alcohol metabolism and, presumably, a more tolerable hangover."
This cactus fruit possesses mega anti-inflammatory agents that can help offset the damage done by drinking alcohol. Researchers at Tulane University discovered that drinkers who took prickly pear cactus extract five hours before drinking had 50 percent fewer hangover symptoms than drinkers who went without the extract. You can eat prickly pear as a fruit, take an extract capsule, or drink prickly pear tea to help prevent a hangover.
To prevent a horrible hangover, it's important to focus on clear liquids not just the day after, but also while you're drinking. (This includes the actual cocktail.) Stick with rum, vodka, and gin—spirits lower in hangover-causing congeners, fermentation by-products. Avoid more congener-rich spirits like brandy, champagne, bourbon, cognac, whiskey, red wine, and tequila.
Since alcohol blocks the release of vasopressin, a hormone that signals the kidneys to conserve water, it's easy to become dehydrated while drinking. White recommends drinking water in between cocktails to stay hydrated and dilute the alcohol already in your stomach.
The morning after, reach for some clear organic broth to help replace the salt and potassium lost through drinking.
More: 4 Organic Cocktails for Your Holiday Celebration
Most people are conditioned to reach for a sports drink when they wake up with a grueling hangover. While those electrolyte-rich drinks do help bring your body's chemistry back into balance, they often contain nasty ingredients like fake food dyes that are toxic to brain cells. Worse yet, some Powerade and Gatorade flavors contain a toxic flame retardant chemical. Coconut water is a natural electrolyte-boosting option that can help. A ConsumerLab.com analysis released earlier this year found that Zico Natural Pure Premium Coconut Water contained electrolyte levels on par with Gatorade, while some other coconut water brands did not live up to the hype. We absolutely love Navitas Naturals Coconut Water Powder. It's organic and requires much less energy to ship, since you mix it with water at your house.
Eggs provide protein to help stabilize blood sugar, while the cystine in protein may help break down toxins. Eggs are also a potent brain food, according to The Happiness Diet. Look for organic pastured eggs, meaning they come from hens raised on grass and supplemented with organic feed. This type of egg can quickly help replenish your body with B vitamins after they've been drained by drinking alcohol.
Ever feel physically weak after a night of drinking? You're not imagining it—your muscles really pay the price when you overdo it in the drinking department. If you're feeling a little shaky after a night of drinking, reach for a banana to help restore your body's potassium levels and improve muscle function.
If you can't stomach eating raw honey the day after drinking, use a cracker as the delivery system. Real honey is loaded with antioxidants and concentrated fructose, which will help flush any remaining alcohol out of your system more quickly.
Quinoa is a South American grain that's growing in popularity in the States, and it can also come in mighty handy during a hangover situation. Drinking depletes your body's amino acids—the building blocks of protein—but quinoa's well-balanced amino acid profile can help repair the damage done.
There's something extremely comforting about toast. Whether you're hugging the porcelain throne due to the flu or a hangover, it seems like toast is always there to help you get back on your feet. Your liver is also grateful for a few slices of toast after a night of drinking. Under normal conditions, your liver automatically produces more glucose from stored carbs when your blood sugar dips. But when you drink, your liver is busy metabolizing your alcohol and can't always regulate your blood sugar, leaving you moody and drained of energy. Toast is also easy on the tummy, making it a perfect food for queasy hungover mornings.
Organic tomato juice can send a natural jolt of vitamins and minerals into your alcohol-ravaged body, but that's not its only perk. Tomato juice hydrates, and just like honey, the fructose in the juice will help flush out lingering alcohol.