BEER & YOUR HEALTH
Hangovers are easy to avoid. Don't drink. Or at least don't drink too much. Because physicians do not absolutely know what causes a "hangover" there are many suggestions for a) avoiding them and b) for recovering quickly when a) fails.
What causes hangovers?
- Drinking alcohol. But you probably knew that.
- Dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic; it makes you urinate and flushes fluids from the body. Drinking coffee only makes matters worse, because coffee also is a diuretic. The dehydration caused by alcohol and coffee can be minimized by drinking plenty of water. A headache is a symptom of dehydration and may be eased with pain relievers and water.
- Some alcohol is worse than others. Brandy, red wine, rum, whisky, beer, white wine, gin and vodka are worst to least in descending order of likelihood to cause a hangover. The British Medical Journal did tests that showed drinking bourbon is twice as likely to cause a hangover than the same amount of vodka.
- Different drinks for different folks. If you are allergic to yeast, for instance, unfiltered microbrewed beer might leave you with a terrible headache. Certain people are senstive to sulphur dioxide, an inti-oxidizing agent added to many wines to keep them fresh; others get headaches from chemical substance found in dark grape skins. The latter will drink white wine with no effects, and suffer with red wines.
- Mixing drinks can cause hangovers. Be careful with what you’re drinking and when you’re drinking it. Remember this rhyme: "Beer before liquor, never sicker. Liquor before beer, never fear." Beer or any other carbonated alcoholic beverage is absorbed much more quickly into your body. Drinking it before other alcoholic beverages will cause them to be absorbed more quickly as well.
- The rate at which one absorbs alcohol can depend on mood increased adrenaline pushes alcohol through the system much faster. Therefore, feeling deeply depressed or ecstacially happy makes you drunk faster.
Taking preventitive steps
- Begin by considering your height, weight and personal tolerance for alcohol when drinking.
- Drink a glass of milk to start the evening. It will retard the absorption of alcohol, and protect your stomach against irritations.
- Never drink on an empty stomach. Food helps to absorb some of the alcohol and aids the body in digesting it faster. Consider eating starchy foods to slow the alcohol absorption.
- Limit yourself to less than one drink per hour.
- Drink a glass of water between each beer you order.
- Back in the '60s, a navy subcontractor provided "hangover shots," vitamin B injections, in the infirmaries of its many large U.S. centers. The shots were massive replacements of the water-soluble vitamins the previous night's massive consumption of alcohol had dehydrated right out of people. A good dose of water mixed with brewer's yeast (which is full of Vitamin B) before going to bed is a poor man's option.
- Even if you pass on the Vitamin B, drink lots of water before going to bed.
You're hung over - some cures?
- Sleep. It gives your body time to recover. A tired or unfit drinker is especially vulnerable to hangovers.
- Keep drinking water.
- Eat. Complex carbohydrates such as bread and pasta will raise your blood sugar level. Bananas are excellent because they contain complex carbohydrates, potassium and Vitamin C. And if your stomach can't face food? Chamomile tea is best, and make the first cup really strong. The chamomile will help your stomach, and if you take in quantities of water with the tea, it will ease the pain.
- Exercise. This will help you sweat the alcohol out of your system.
- Sex. See exercise.
There are doctors who claim hangovers are mostly mental. In that case you may feel the need to punish yourself with a more exotic cures. If so, try the Middle Ages mixture of bitter almonds and raw eel. Or mix together vinegar and raw eggs, and swig them down with a giant gulp.
You might decide you were better off stopping at cure No. 5 above.