As we age, we may find our bodies changing in myriad ways—among them, the likelihood (and severity) of a hangover after a night of drinking. It seems like a good idea at the moment, but it’s the dreaded next day where you go through the motions of regret, shame, a pounding headache, and most importantly, texting the group chat “What did I even do last night?” There truly is nothing like a hangover to have you questioning every decision you’ve ever made in life.
So if you’re looking for a remedy after a night of imbibing, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to find out what medically-backed solutions four health experts have to offer to those of us in misery.
Eat a Proper Meal Prior to Drinking
Though it might seem obvious, if you have some food before you drink, it will slow down the speed of alcohol absorption. “This is especially true if you have a meal that is a combination of protein, fats, and carbs," explains Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, FAND, a Los Angeles-based dietitian. "Fatty foods such as salmon, nuts, and seeds can help delay the absorption of alcohol. Also, foods that are high in fiber such as beans, lentils, popcorn, and brussels sprouts can help.”
"Sunglasses and Advil" made its way into the lexicon for good reason. Sonja Fung, ND, a naturopath based in La Quinta, California, notes: “It is safe to take ibuprofen or other NSAIDs (with a full stomach). Do not take Tylenol, as it is mostly processed by your liver and can add to liver toxicity.”
Drink Water to Avoid Dehydration
Hydrate, hydrate, Hydrate. The adult human body is roughly 60 percent water, so proper hydration plays an important role in alleviating a hangover. “Each person has to consume a certain amount of water on a daily basis to maintain the body’s normal function," explains Kim Rose, RDN, CDCES, CNSC, a registered dietitian nutritionist. "For this reason when someone consumes too much alcohol, water must be replaced in order for the body to function normally.”
Need a little extra boost? Pay homage to childhood by drinking some Pedialyte. “Alcohol may act as a diuretic and therefore cause dehydration, especially with heavy drinking. Pedialyte has a high concentration of potassium and sodium, which are great when it comes to restoring the electrolytes we might have lost after heavy drinking,” says Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, a nutrition consultant based in New York City.
Try an IV Hydration Cocktail
Another cocktail? It’s not what you think. Fung recommends cocktailing B vitamins and an IV infusion of glutathione—a major antioxidant and detoxifier made in the liver—to help speed the metabolism of alcoholic toxins out of your body. Please note: Unlike the other solutions on the list, this one isn't DIY. IV infusions must be administered by a qualified professional, either in-office or during a house call.
Slurp on Some Chicken or Bone Broth
Contrary to popular belief, our bodies need a certain amount of sodium to function well. Try sipping on some chicken or bone broth (don’t choose the low sodium varieties), as it’ll help you rehydrate and replete the amount you lost. “Broth is also gentle on the stomach when you might not have much of an appetite,” says Gans.
Try Herbs like Schisandra
For some, lack of mental clarity or brain fog might be the worst part of getting through a hangover—especially if it’s a workday. Rose recommends trying out Schisandra, an herb that may enhance your cognitive function. “You can find it in Focus ($42 for a box of 12), a drink by Elements that not only contains Schisandra but also lion’s mane, which contains minerals that could have been lost during urination—you'd want to replace those—and citicoline, which may improve your ability to pay attention,” she adds.
Eat a Nutritious Breakfast
It’s best not to leave your stomach empty when you’re experiencing a hangover. “This can bring on feelings of nausea and even result in low blood sugar levels that may make you feel worse,” says Rose. If you can, have a nourishing meal like one scrambled egg with two slices of lightly buttered whole-wheat toast, and a side of strawberries. “As the old saying goes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day," she says. "But if you’re not feeling a hearty breakfast, a piece or two of dry toast is still better than nothing.”