Hangovers sure aren't fun. The pounding head, the dry mouth, the feeling that you might just throw up if you move.
If you’re currently cursing yourself for enjoying a few too many Espresso Martinis last night, fear not as your gut may just be able to help get you through til bed time.
"When you're feeling hungover, it's important to understand that your gut health plays a significant role in how your body copes with the aftermath of alcohol consumption," explains Lara Buckle, nutritionist, women's health coach and founder of The Wellness Detective.
But before we understand how we can 'cure' a hangover with our gut, it's important to understand what exactly it is and what causes us to feel this way.
"Physically, a hangover can result in dehydration, as alcohol is a diuretic that causes increased urine production," Buckle explains. "This can lead to headaches, dry mouth, and an overall feeling of thirst."
Tick, tick and, er, tick.
Buckle says alcohol can also disrupt the delicate balance of your gut microbiome and irritate the lining of your stomach, contributing to nausea, indigestion, and potentially even vomiting. *green face emoji*
"It can cause blood vessels to expand and contract rapidly, leading to headaches and a throbbing sensation," she adds.
The effects of too much of a good time can also impact our mental wellbeing the morning after.
"Mentally, alcohol's impact on your brain can result in cognitive impairment," Buckle continues. "You may experience reduced concentration, memory problems, and mood disturbances.
"Alcohol also disrupts your sleep patterns, leading to fragmented and less restorative sleep, which can leave you feeling fatigued and mentally foggy."
As we said so not fun!
Can you prevent a hangover?
Apart from not drinking in the first place, there's not an awful lot you can do to totally avoid a hangover if you do overindulge. But NHS Wales has a few pre-emptive measures to help avoid the severity of the dreaded morning after.
Prevention is always better than cure, so they suggest drinking mindfully and drinking non-alcoholic drinks in between the booze.
The health service also recommends not drinking on an empty stomach and having a meal that includes carbohydrates, such as pasta or rice to help slow down your body's absorption of alcohol.
It's also a good idea to drink a pint or so of water before you go to sleep.
How your gut can help you recover from a hangover
If you're already in those first flushes of a hangover from hell, there are still some gut measures you can take to help ease your body back to feeling human again.
Up the H20
Hydrate with water and electrolytes (such as coconut water).
"Dehydration is a common side effect of alcohol consumption, and it can impair your gut function," Buckle explains. "Drinking plenty of water and electrolyte-rich fluids can help rehydrate your body and support your gut in processing the toxins left behind by alcohol."
Alcohol can negatively affect the beneficial bacteria in your gut. "Eating probiotic-rich foods like yoghurt, kefir, or sauerkraut can help replenish these beneficial microbes," Buckle explains.
"Probiotics support gut health and may alleviate digestive discomfort associated with a hangover."
Eat fibre-rich foods
Buckle suggests opting for whole grains, fruits, and vegetables as fibre helps regulate blood sugar levels and aids in alcohol metabolism, reducing the severity of hangover symptoms. "Unless your stomach is very upset, in which case best to stick to plain foods, like crackers, toast, rice, as they are less likely to irritate an already upset stomach," Buckle advises.
Incorporate ginger or peppermint
Both ginger and peppermint have been shown to ease nausea and improve digestion. "Ginger tea or peppermint tea can provide relief from hangover-related stomach discomfort," Buckle adds.
Include foods high in antioxidants
Antioxidant-rich foods, such as berries, leafy greens, and colourful fruits, help combat oxidative stress caused by alcohol. "They can support the body's detoxification processes and reduce inflammation in the gut," Buckle explains.
Enjoy vitamin C-rich Foods
Buckle says it is a good idea to include citrus fruits, strawberries, and bell peppers in your post-drinking diet because Vitamin C helps break down alcohol in the liver and acts as an antioxidant to help combat oxidative stress caused by alcohol consumption.
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