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BBC – Future – No, you can not eat your way out of a hangover



The hangover was with us forever, it seems. A few years ago, the recently decoded Egyptian papyrus discovered that even 1900 years ago, the cure for the effects of drinking too much alcohol was in people's minds – the recommended option in this case is a necklace made from a plant with leather leaves.

Various other treatments offered by folklore include breakfast of pickled herring, fried canary (thanks to the Romans), salted plums and Prairie oysters, an American blend of raw eggs, tomato juice, hot sauce and other products. Everything that could cure headaches, nausea, fatigue and disorientation, which characterize the hangover, was experienced.

However, very little besides the tincture of time seems to work. One of the difficulties in developing a hangover treatment is that exactly what a hangover is when it comes to molecular biology is still not precisely known. Interestingly, the symptoms of a hangover do not appear until the alcohol has already left our blood.

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This suggests that metabolites produced by our body may be involved. Ethanol is decomposed by liver enzymes to acetaldehyde, and then decomposed into acetate, which is converted into fatty acids and water. Some scientists suggest that acetaldehyde may cause some symptoms of a hangover, especially given evidence that drunkenness occurs faster in people with mutations that interfere with the enzymes that remove it. But some studies show that acetaldehyde levels do not correlate with the severity of a hangover.

Others are suspicious of not only the alcohol itself or its metabolites, but also of what happens to them — the substances in drinks that give them color and taste, sometimes called congeners. For example, in whiskey there is a whole set of molecules formed during fermentation, the presence of which may have something to do with what you feel after eating too much.

A dark liquor with a large amount of these substances seems worse than clear: one 2009 study found that those who drank dark bourbon felt much worse than those who drank vodka. But there are many differences between people, ranging from basic biology to the amount of alcohol and speed – not to mention the age, which, as many suspect, makes it difficult for an overly indulgent person to leave the night with impunity.

In truth, hangover symptoms are probably not associated with a single molecule or set of molecules, but with a combination of factors.

Not many studies thoroughly explain all these things, in part because it is difficult to control everything and still imitate in a natural way how people behave in a depraved night.

In truth, hangover symptoms are probably not associated with a single molecule or set of molecules, but with a combination of factors. Alcohol consumption actually leads to changes in hormonal regulation, which can make people urinate more, so the next day they can be dehydrated, which helps to take into account a headache. People often drink by sleeping all night, and alcohol worsens the quality of sleep they get when they go to bed.

Fatigue and confusion can be partly due to lack of sleep or poor sleep. Some researchers have suggested that the fuzziness and cognitive impairment of a hangover can be caused by some kind of immune activation, citing higher levels of some inflammatory compounds. “There are theories that a hangover in alcohol is an immune response to drinking large quantities of alcohol,” says Joris S. Verster, a professor at Utrecht University, who studies the physiology of a hangover. "Currently, studies are underway to study the substances of immune metabolism, such as cytokines."

The Internet is replete with friendly suggestions about what to eat to help dull the pain. Bananas are sometimes referred to as hangover mates, with some suggesting that they can replenish nutrients, such as potassium, lost while drinking. But nutritional deficiencies are most likely not the cause of the symptoms of a hangover, and you are unlikely to have such a deficiency after one night of drinking.

A heavy, fatty meal — a classic “full English” or lunchtime dinner — is sometimes talked about something that can help. But this seems to be a tangled version of advice on how much to eat before consumption, so that the absorption of alcohol slows down; There is no evidence that this helps later.

Some offer to eat eggs, justifying the fact that they contain the amino acid used to break down acetaldehyde. This is also a bit pretentious as a hangover cure. There is no convincing evidence that the use of this amino acid (which, by the way, is also found in other products) also helps with symptoms.

Treating symptoms with rest, water, and aspirin is likely to be the best treatment for some time. Eating a hearty meal in advance and slow drinking can help maintain the level of alcohol and other substances that your liver and the rest of your body have to deal with at a manageable level during the night. But the best way to avoid a hangover is to not drink in excess. If you need something to motivate you, imagine that you are eating a fried canary, swaying with nausea. The only thing that can be worse than a hangover is the medicine.

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