The Best Foods to Cure Your Hangover, According to a Dietitian
We all know what you did last night, and how awful you feel today. Water and essential nutrients have been flushed out of your body, leaving you dehydrated and with a headache. Your liver is in overdrive trying to metabolize all of that ethanol and the drastic blood sugar spikes and dips are causing major sugar cravings, heavy sweats, dizziness, shakiness, and blurred vision. Plus, you’re exhausted. The price of a big night out!
The good news is that expediting your hangover is as easy as drinking plenty of water, avoiding caffeine/more alcohol, and eating the right foods. These 11 foods, to be precise.
Heavy drinking can deplete the mineral potassium, which is an essential electrolyte that maintains cellular fluid homeostasis. This can lead to muscle spasms, dizziness, and weakness, but luckily, this superfood will counteract that. It’s also chock-full of fiber, B6, carotenoids, and heart-healthy fats, and as an added bonus, enables neuromuscular function, proper heart function, muscle contraction, and keeps sodium at bay.
Ginger lemon herbal tea
There’s a reason your mom always made you drink ginger ale during a stomach virus -- ginger works wonders for nausea relief and contains anti-inflammatory compounds. But skip the super-sugary soda and opt for the fresh root and slices of lemon in hot water instead. The vitamin C and potassium boost from the lemons will soothe your nerves.
These little guys are high in natural sugar, but they’re a way better choice than highly processed, artificially sweetened candy if you’re craving something sweet after a night out. Half a cup of them provides about 33% of your daily value for potassium, while boosting your energy!
The body craves magnesium after boozing -- muscle spasms, cramps, anxiety, and irregular heartbeats are some signs of a deficiency. One cup of cooked beans provides about 20-28% of the daily value of the mineral, which also activates B vitamins for energy metabolism and collaborates with calcium and vitamin D to help maintain proper bone health. So dig into that bean burrito -- add guac for a double-hitter.
Alcohol can deplete the body of the B-complex vitamins, causing you to feel weak and lightheaded. Rich in EPA and DHA fatty acids, salmon is an excellent source of biological protein that contains all essential amino acids and vitamin B12. Just 3oz of cooked salmon provides over half of the daily value for vitamin B12.
For a quick pick-me-up and major potassium boost sip on a cold glass of coconut water. With more potassium than a banana or a sports drink, coconut water works like magic. Abracadabra, hangover be gone! The sweet, nutty taste will curb your sugar craving with just the right amount of carbs and calories to prevent sugar overload.
It may not be the most appealing food after a night out, but broccoli is rich in folate (folic acid), another B vitamin depleted by excess alcohol intake. Low levels can leave you lethargic and fatigued. One cooked cup contains 42% of your daily value of folate, as well as dietary fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Broccoli’s anti-inflammatory benefits also combat oxidative stress, which is the result of heavy alcohol intake.
Since alcohol intoxication can wreak havoc on blood sugar metabolism, it’s important to consume unrefined carbohydrates, like this tuberous root. Unrefined carbs contain a long chain of sugar molecules that the liver gradually breaks down, preventing a spike in blood sugar. Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, potassium, beta-carotene, and B vitamins. So instead of reaching for a donut (as tempting as it may be), opt for sweet potatoes (fries totally, totally count!).
Be sure to enjoy the yolk, as it contains a treasure trove of essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and brain-boosting acetylcholine. And if that doesn’t get you eggcited enough, one egg will also provide you with 33% of your daily value for B12! This means that a three-egg breakfast sandwich is totally justified.
A nasty hangover can zap stamina, but research indicates that the nitric oxide found in beets can boost it. Nitric oxide increases blood flow and oxygen efficiency, and helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Beets also contain potassium, vitamin C, fiber, and folate.
A night of over-imbibing can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, and irritability due to dehydration and a loss of electrolytes and sodium. A vegetable cocktail can solve this, though preferably one without alcohol -- hair of the dog is a myth! Aim for something with celery and get a boost from its natural sodium. Or just forget all of the above and down a couple Bloody Marys.
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Jacqueline Aizen is a registered dietitian and graduate of New York University, where she pursued her interest in nutrition studies. She has written for Prevention, and is currently a contributor for Be Light Living, and a health expert for ChickRx. Find her on her website.