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10 Ways to Avoid a Hangover

How to avert that painful morning after — and what to do if you do drink too much

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    Think before you drink

    En español | Drink too much, too fast, and you are likely to pay for it the next day with fatigue, headache, tremors and the all-around misery of a hangover. To avoid the worst, stick with alcohol guidelines: up to two drinks a day for men and one drink daily for women. “Of course, the best strategy is to drink in moderation and avoid causing hangovers in the first place,” says Aaron White of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. But if you do drink one too many during this holiday party season, try these expert-approved suggestions.  

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    Choose the right drink

    Alcoholic drinks that have compounds called congeners — biologically active compounds generated during the beverage’s production or added to them to enhance their appeal — can make you both more intoxicated and more likely to feel sick the morning after. The worst offenders: whiskey, brandy and red wine. Less risky are those with fewer congeners, such as beer, gin and vodka.

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    Eat a good meal

    It makes sense that having food in your stomach would slow the rate that alcohol gets into your system and possibly reduce the chance for a hangover. In fact, researchers at Sweden’s Huddinge University Hospital showed that blood alcohol levels of people who imbibed after a meal were less pronounced than levels of those who drank on an empty stomach. Reach for snacks that contain protein and fat, which may help reduce intoxication even more.

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    Pear up

    Eating an apple-shaped Asian pear — or drinking about 7½ ounces of Asian pear juice — significantly reduced hangover symptoms compared to a placebo drink, a 2015 study from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization showed. But the method works only if you consume the fruit or juice before you drink. “There is no evidence that you can consume pears after drinking and avoid a hangover,” said lead researcher Manny Noakes. 

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    Take stalk

    Compounds in asparagus may help guard the liver against the toxins in alcohol and may alleviate hangover symptoms, according to a study published in the Journal of Food Science. Researchers credit the vegetable’s amino acids and minerals, but also found that asparagus increases the activity of enzymes that metabolize alcohol by more than twofold. 

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    Drink water between alcoholic drinks to slow down your drinking and avoid dehydration. “Alcohol acts as a diuretic, and in the process promotes the excretion of water/fluid from your body,” says Diane McKay of the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. Consuming a glass of water for every drink will help prevent or alleviate the dehydrating effects of alcohol that lead to those unpleasant symptoms such as headache, dizziness and dry mouth. 

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    Go natural

    Taking 1,600 IUs of prickly pear cactus five hours before heavy drinking may reduce hangover symptoms, shows a study from Tulane University in New Orleans. Other research from Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, found that drinking a red ginseng-based “hangover drink” along with alcohol reduced alcohol levels and symptom severity. And in a study from two South Korean universities, drinking an extract of Siberian ginseng before and after several ounces of whiskey was associated with reduced hangover symptoms and inflammation. Note: check with your doctor before trying any of these remedies.

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    Pop a vitamin

    Specifically B6. Men and women who took 1200 milligrams of the vitamin — 400 mg at the beginning of a party, 400 mg three hours later and 400 mg after last call — had half the number of hangover symptoms as those who got a placebo, according to a study in Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol. Another option: Load up on steak and other good sources of vitamin B6: beef liver, tuna, salmon.

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    Sip a citrusy soda

     If you tie one on, reach for a lemon-lime soda. When researchers from China’s Sun Yat-Sen University tested 57 beverages — herbal infusions, tea and carbonated drinks — for their effects on enzymes that help process alcohol, only one, lemon-lime soda, helped the body metabolize alcohol, thus speeding relief. While these beverages led to increases in the enzymes’ activity, some beverages, including herbal tea, actually slowed down enzyme activity, which can make symptoms worse.   

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    Eat an egg

    Make these incredible edibles — whether scrambled, poached or in an omelet — your go-to food after indulging too much the night before. “Since they are packed with protein, they help to stabilize your blood sugar,” says Alissa Rumsey, a registered dietitian and New York-based spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “And their high level of cysteine, an amino acid, helps to break down the alcohol’s toxins.” 

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    Get a kick out of kiwi

    Alcohol’s diuretic effect causes your body to lose potassium, which is what can cause you to feel shaky after a night of drinking. “It’s important to replenish your potassium quickly the next day, so I reach for a banana or kiwi the morning after,” says dietitian Rumsey. 

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