Most of us know the feeling after enjoying a night out with friends—maybe you enjoyed it a little too much. The headache, nausea, the overall feeling of “Can today be canceled?” Hangovers are the body’s way of reminding us about the hazards of overindulgence. It makes sense when you break down the science of it all. The symptoms that we experience begin after blood alcohol levels start to fall. In fact, according to some experts, the worst symptoms occur when levels reach zero. How much you drank is just a small factor in the equation. Some studies even suggest that light and moderate drinkers are more vulnerable to getting a hangover than heavy drinkers. All that aside, we can all agree that recovery is the number one goal the day after indulging.
Usually, recovering from a hangover includes hydrating with some type of electrolyte-filled mixture. You might associate this with some version of a generic sports drink, loaded with fake sugars and artificial flavors, which is meant to aid you back to health. Problem solved—or maybe not so much. Although a pre-made, quick-fix drink sounds like a great choice, all the added artificial sugars, colors and flavors may be doing more harm than good. The common artificial ingredients found in typical sports drinks have been known to cause symptoms that include headaches, stomachaches, cravings, inflammation and irritability. Ironically, these are some of the same symptoms we experience with a hangover—which the sports drink was supposed to cure in the first place!
Instead of loading up on a blue or purple flavored drink with a hint of electrolytes, opt for one of these natural options instead.
Maybe this goes without saying, but nothing hydrates better than water—simple as that. After a night out, dehydration is common. This is because alcohol depletes your body of water and vital nutrients. If you are dehydrated, you may experience unpleasant symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue and vomiting. Next time you are out on the town, remember to drink one 8-ounce glass of water between alcoholic beverages and then continue to load up on H2O the next morning.
We’ve already addressed that alcohol doesn’t only make you lose fluid—it washes away essential electrolytes. Potassium is one of the electrolytes depleted, which can leave you feeling weak and crampy. Potassium helps control the amount of fluid in the body, maintains a healthy blood pH level and is vital to cell function. Coconut water is a great choice to replace your sports drink. It has more potassium per ounce and is free of artificial colors and sweeteners.
Another classic choice for morning-after recovery. Vitamin C is one of the major vitamins depleted by alcohol. We need vitamin C to support our immune system and act as an antioxidant to scavenge for free radicals, which cause inflammation and tissue destruction. Ever wonder why your skin looks so lackluster after a hangover? Vitamin C also helps your body produce collagen, which makes your skin appear hydrated and rejuvenated! Freshly squeezed OJ is the perfect drink to reach for when you’re on the mend.
GINGER LEMON TEA
Nauseous? Ginger is your new best friend. It works wonders to alleviate nausea. Add lemon in the mix for the ultimate recovery drink. Lemon supports your liver, which goes into overdrive trying to metabolize all that ethanol (aka alcohol). You can make it yourself by boiling some water and adding fresh slices of ginger and the juice of half a lemon.
Before you turn your nose up at the thought of drinking bone broth, hear us out. Bone broth has tons of benefits. It contains L-glutamine, which supports the health of your small intestine, and glycine, which supports detoxification. While homemade is best, store-bought versions are still a great option. Just make sure you look for one made with whole food ingredients—like grass-fed beef bones and pasture-raised or free-range poultry bones—without additives, coloring or flavor enhancers.
Let’s talk about another important electrolyte: sodium. Our body requires small amounts of sodium for nerve and muscle function as well as fluid balance. Drinking alcohol drains your body of normal sodium levels, so it is important to replenish those levels after the fact. Fermented soybean—otherwise known as miso—has naturally higher levels of sodium and contains probiotics and antioxidants that help sooth digestion, making it the perfect thing to sip on. Make sure when you are purchasing store-bought versions that you stay away from any ingredients with GMOs. As always, organic ingredients are best.
After consuming alcohol, the liver is hard at work processing all that ethanol. You might feel achy or run down—but not to fear, beets are here! Beets contain betaine, which is an antioxidant rich in anti-inflammatory compounds. A clean pressed juice containing beets will help your liver cleanse your body and put that pep back in your step—just make sure it contains 100% juice and no preservatives if you go the store-bought route.
VIRGIN BLOODY MARY
They say a little hair of the dog will do the trick, but your best bet to recover as fast as possible is to give your body a break from the booze. The ingredients that make up a Bloody Mary are a surprisingly great mixture for detoxing your body. Omit the alcohol but keep the tomato juice, lemon, olives and celery, and you have yourself a great recovery drink. Tomatoes have natural sodium, potassium and, most importantly, lycopene—an antioxidant that helps with detoxification. The lemon juice adds a nice kick of vitamin C!