December 16, 2015

December 16, 2015
How To Avoid A Hangover

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Wednesday and we have almost made it through the middle of another work week. I hope you are having a beary safe and great week so far. Dab the AIDS Bear is on the road until the end of the year speaking at events and doing our holiday parties for children living with HIV. So stay tuned for more new pictures and slide shows soon.

When patients ask me “How can I avoid a hangover?” I know my first response, although scientifically flawless, will be met with an eye-roll: “Don’t drink alcohol.” No matter how medically sound the idea of abstaining to prevent painful mornings-after might be, it’s largely impractical for most of us, especially this time of the year. After all, there’s nothing quite like an office holiday party to turn teetotalers into keg-standers just to get through the stress of that “friendly” conversation with the boss.

The simple truth is that if you drink too much (for you) you will experience some consequences the next day, ranging from just feeling “off your game,” to full-blown, bed ridden, head-exploding-from-the-sound-of-a-pin-dropping misery. There are no miracle cures once the damage is done, but there are some legitimate strategies to lessen the likelihood that you’ll overdo it. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Don’t order the fruit plate

Eating delays the body’s absorption of alcohol, so it hits the bloodstream less quickly and you have more time to metabolize it. All foods have this effect to some degree, but a blend of fats, whole-grain carbs, and proteins are your best bet. The B-vitamins and amino acids in protein help to replace some of the nutrients lost in alcohol metabolism, and the fat and fiber from whole-grains help to slow the absorption of the alcohol. If there is one time to go for the burger it’s when you know you’ll be drinking.

2. Pay-up

If you’re going to drink, splurge. More expensive brands of alcohol tend to have fewer congeners, which are chemicals that contribute to the taste, smell and color of alcohol, and seem to be linked with hangover symptoms. Clear liquor usually contains fewer cogeners than darker drinks, and many top-shelf brands have been filtered to remove impurities that can worsen hangovers. One more plus: If you’ve paid a lot for a drink you’re more likely to savor it slowly, and buy fewer drinks overall.

3. Drink water like a camel

Alcohol has a diuretic effect on the body, such that you lose more fluid metabolizing a drink than you take in by drinking it. Dehydration is a big contributor to the headache and brain fog that follows overindulging. Try to alternate your beverages by drinking one or two glasses of water in between every alcoholic drink. Sports drinks are another good option because they replace both fluid and electrolytes, like magnesium, that your body loses as it metabolized alcohol.

4. Keep it flat

Research has shown that carbonation accelerates the absorption of alcohol in the blood. So bubbly drinks like champagne may hit you harder than wine or drinks with non-carbonated mixers.

5. Sleep

Alcohol disrupts sleep. Although it may help you fall asleep faster, as your body processes the alcohol it releases compounds that interrupt the deepest stages of sleep that occur later in the sleep cycle. Although there is nothing you can do to stop this process once you’ve ingested the alcohol, it may make sense to set the alarm an hour or two later, if possible, to catch-up on lost Zzz’s. Hangover symptoms feel worse when you’re sleep deprived.

Hope you have a beary safe and great Wednesday!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab