A hangover is the karmic response to a night out drinking, the miserable yang to a glorious party’s yin. After a particularly raucus evening, you may awake in the morning feeling a bit like Kingsley Amis’s protagonist Dixon in Lucky Jim: “A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.”
If you wake up feeling “bad,” you may consider the hair of the dog that bit you or an old-fashioned restorative, but the quickest way to restore balance to the perceptible universe is by way of sustenance. But not just any food will do. Your body requires fructose, vitamins, amino acids and minerals to replenish reserves and help your body break down the booze lingering in your system. Skip the greasy spoon, chug water like it’s, well, water, and go eat these curative recovery foods.
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There’s a reason avocado toast is on the menu at every hip health-centric brunch in the country, and it’s not just because the green, vegetable-like berry is total Insta-bait. Avocado is packed with potassium, which combats dizziness and muscle weakness, B6, which replenishes lost vitamins, and fiber, which helps you rid your body of all those toxins. Pair it with stomach-calming cilantro in some early morning guacamole for the tastiest route to recovery.
Along with the rest of the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) prescribed for patients with upset stomachs, the handheld fruit is easy on the digestive system. It’s also full of fiber to help break down the troublesome remnants of last night’s liquid feast, B6 and potassium.
Along with vitamin C, B vitamins help your body run smoothly, boosting everything from your nervous system to your immune system. Pile your morning bagel high with lox, as salmon is packed with B12, important for maintaining energy levels, and salt, which will help restore sodium levels.
Throw an egg on it—at least if you want all the calcium, vitamin D (which aids digestion and acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter wrecked by alcohol) and B12. Meanwhile, the amino acid cysteine breaks down harmful acetaldehyde produced by ethanol, and taurine helps your liver. Fry up some eggs if you must, but if you’re avoiding queasy grease, scramble ‘em instead.
Drinking tea doesn’t just help cure a cold; it’s also a remedy for drink-induced sickness. The ginger and peppermint varieties are great for relieving nausea and reducing stomach inflammation, while the antioxidant catechin in green tea has been shown to improve liver function.
That paranoia you feel the morning after a late night drinking session isn’t just regret. Booze depletes magnesium, which is important for controlling anxiety. Luckily, beans are full of the stuff, which also happens to help break down alcohol, support liver function, relax muscles causing soreness and cramps, and stabilize your heart rhythm.
Another #fitstagram staple, coconut water not only makes you look trendy, popping out of your Lululemon bag, it also provides you with potassium and more electrolytes than a bottle of Gatorade with way less sugar (depending on the brand—so watch out).
Chicken noodle may have been the remedy of choice when you were homesick from grade school, but now that you’re an adult you can choose any salty soup you please. Miso soup is great for replenishing sodium in your body and giving you some extra fluids. Or, if you do opt for the poultry-filled variety, the chicken will provide a healthy dose of cysteine, like eggs. Another great pick is tomato bisque, as tomato boosts liver function, electrolytes and potassium.
Veggies: Broccoli, Beets and Spinach
Don’t slide that broccoli to the dog—your canine companion may help you clean your plate on the sly, but he won’t help you with your pounding headache. That nubbly green, on the other hand, has all the folic acid (B9) you could ever want, plus vitamins C and the anti-inflammatory K. Meanwhile, beets restore stamina with nitric oxide and add an extra dose of folic acid, fiber and potassium. Spinach completes the triple threat of folic acid, adding sulfur and more vitamin C to the mix.