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Dr. Amati’s Expert Strategies

How to Prevent a Hangover: Expert Tips from Dr. Federica Amati

A hangover, an unwanted companion of excessive alcohol consumption, is well known for its unpleasant consequences: headaches, nausea and feelings of regret. Drinking alcohol, a known Group 1 carcinogen, in moderation is key to avoiding these unpleasant experiences, according to Dr Federica Amati, a nutritionist and medical scientist at Imperial College London.

Preventing a Hangover: Food and Drink Strategies

Eating foods, especially those high in fat and fiber, before or while you drink can slow the absorption of alcohol and encourage slower drinking. Specifically, consuming a bowl of yogurt or kefir with berries and nuts, or cheese and grapes with crackers, can be beneficial. The anti-inflammatory effects of polyphenols found in berries and grapes, combined with the support of gut bacteria from yogurt or kefir, help alleviate hangover symptoms. Incorporating asparagus into one’s diet may also help due to its richness in amino acids and minerals that support liver function and reduce inflammation. Alternating alcoholic beverages with water or kombucha can not only minimize the effects of a hangover, but also provide antioxidants and healthy gut bacteria.

(Also read: Small acts, big impact: unexplored paths to happiness)

Alcohol Alternatives and Hangover Supplements

Several products have been developed to mimic the positive effects of alcohol without the hangover. Sentia, a drink concocted by Professor David Nutt, targets GABA neurotransmitters to generate the positive effects of alcohol without the dreaded hangover. Myrkl, a probiotic supplement launching in 2022, claims to help break down alcohol and combat fatigue associated with hangovers. However, the study supporting these claims was limited and therefore warrants further research.

(Also read: Australians set health and financial goals for 2024: survey on New Year’s resolutions reveals)

Moderation and post-consumption care

Red wine, traditionally made cider, and beer are recommended in moderation due to their anti-inflammatory polyphenols and healthy gut bacteria. Darker colored drinks can lead to worse hangovers from congeners, even if they don’t contain beneficial polyphenols. Before sleeping, taking a pain reliever like ibuprofen can help reduce brain inflammation caused by increased glutamate during a hangover. After drinking, it is advisable to eat foods that are gentle on the liver, such as eggs, sourdough, vegetables and legumes, and avoid foods high in fat and sugar.

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