Raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimized by vodka. Seriously, have anyone else’s hangovers gotten significantly worse after the age of 25? It used to be as easy as going out, throwing back a nauseating amount of jungle juice and cheap liquor, and bouncing back after a greasy breakfast sandwich and a quick power nap. Now, it’s two glasses of wine and a headache for the next three days. I used to pride myself on the fact that I wasn’t a “puker”, but after I hit my mid-twenties, just a couple rounds of skinny margs would be followed by hours of holding my hair back the next morning. What gives? Are we just getting weaker in our old age, or is it possible that we’ve forgotten how bad our hangovers really were when we were younger?
Looking back at old Snapchats from college, all we see are the blurry videos of the nights of our youth, and not the mornings after that we spent throwing up and vowing to never drink again. So is it us, or is it science? As it turns out, there are valid medical reasons for why we can’t stomach our hangovers as well as we used to, excuse the pun. In addition to my own personal “research” (drinking), I reached out to some medical experts to provide some much-needed insight on why hangovers feel worse as we get older.
Even if you don’t drink, it’s pretty safe to say that everyone is familiar with what a hangover is. Generally, it’s a day of sickness, complaining, and overall misery that follows a night of heavy drinking. But what are hangovers, medically speaking? I spoke with integrative physician Dr. Taz Bhatia, who broke down the science behind hangovers. Dr. Taz says, “The technical name is veisalgia and refers to a syndrome of symptoms post-alcohol—headaches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and focus issues.”
I don’t know about you, but I always feel more justified when I can put a medical term to my woes. Saying “I have veisalgia!” sounds way more serious than just saying “I’m hungover,” and therefore warrants more sympathy instead of judgment from your friends and family. Dr. Taz adds, “Many of these symptoms are most likely from detox pathways getting overworked along with leaching of key nutrients like B vitamins and amino acids.”
Have you also noticed that, as you’ve gotten older, regardless of what or how much you’re drinking, your hangover the next day is exceptionally dreadful? Take solace in knowing that you’re not alone, and that you’re not imagining this; your hangovers really are getting worse as you’re getting older. I’ll give you a moment to go yell “I told you so!” at whoever mocked you for being a wimp during your last hangover. Dr. Jason Burke, hangover specialist and founder of Hangover Heaven IV Hydration, says, “Yes, hangovers are getting much worse as we age. I say that when people are 20 years old, hangovers last one hour, when you get to age 30 they last all day, and once you become over 40, they become a multi-day experience.” So, something to look forward to. Yay.
Age And Alcohol
So why do hangovers get worse as we get older? “Because the body’s reserves are worn down—and there is often not the nutrient reserve, immune reserve, and given time—a greater accumulation of toxins that stress liver function,” says Dr. Taz. Yet another reason to begrudge getting older, enzyme activity in your liver decreases as you age; therefore, your body might not be metabolizing alcohol as well as it did when you were younger. And as we get older, our percentage of body water also decreases, which can increase our blood alcohol concentration (even when we drink less), thus giving us worse hangovers the next day. Furthermore, Dr. Burke explains, “As people age, their ability to rebound, heal, and recover becomes less. As your body ages, it loses its regenerative functions. A hangover is a physical insult to your body. This is why you feel so bad. So, when you are 20 years old you rebound from anything faster, including hangovers. Unfortunately the only thing that gets better with age is wisdom.” Ironically, I think I need a drink to help come to terms with this bitter fact.
Ready to resent your hangover and men, even more? In addition to getting worse with age, studies have also suggested that women experience more severe hangovers than men. To add even more salt to the wound (sans the tequila), Dr. Burke says that women may begin dealing with harsher hangovers at around age 27 or 28, whereas men may not start to experience issues until age 30 or 31. So I guess alcohol is sexist now, too. As to why women have more intense hangovers, Dr. Taz says, “There are studies that show that women have slower detox pathways and therefore don’t metabolize alcohol as well.” I seriously feel betrayed by my body right now.
Dr. Burke adds, “Women experience worse hangovers than men, mainly due to nausea and vomiting. This can be incapacitating. Women tend to get more nauseous and men tend to get more headaches with hangovers. Most people can function to a certain degree with a bad headache, but if somebody is vomiting uncontrollably, there is really nothing else to be done.” Sad, but true. Personally, I recommend aiming your vomit at a guy so that they can be just as upset and miserable as you are. Balance restored.
How To Help Your Hangover
Just because you can’t stop yourself from aging doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. There are still preventative steps you can take to help ease the severity of your inevitable hangover. For starters, the type of alcohol you choose can play a role in how much you suffer the next day. We probably all know this already, but in case you don’t, Dr. Burke advises, “Darker alcohols definitely cause worse hangovers than clear alcohol. And cheap alcohol causes worse hangovers than high-end alcohol.” Sounds like top shelf shots all around! Dr. Taz also recommends loading up on B vitamins, vitamin C, and staying hydrated. So, while you might not be able to fully prevent a hangover, you can still do your best to soften the blow.
Additionally, Dr. Burke relays, “The best way to not end up feeling like death warmed over the next morning is to have a plan when you go out. Especially if you are near age 30 or older.” Basically—and I know nobody wants to hear this—know your limits. You can’t expect to drink five vodka sodas and miraculously feel fine the next day, no matter how much vitamin B you pound. Sorry!
As for drinking an abundance of water as a means of warding off a hangover, Dr. Burke says it can help, but only to a small degree: “If you have had 12 shots of Jagermeister, you can drink all the water you want and you will still feel like death in the morning. It will help somewhat, but it does not resolve the neuro inflammation, nor the oxidative stress.” Harsh, but fair. I mean, drink the water; you’re probably dehydrated anyway. Just don’t expect it to work a miracle.
On the chance that you find yourself in a situation where one drink turned into five and you didn’t take any pre-drinking precautions, don’t beat yourself up. It’s going to happen. Just go for any of your tried-and-true hangover hacks and try and remember that this feeling won’t last forever. Hydrate yourself with electrolytes, and sleep it off knowing that your hangovers are getting worse as you age, it’s just science—sorry!
Image: Space_Cat / Shutterstock.com
We’ve all been there: you wake up from a long night and too many glasses of wine with a splitting headache, thirsty, and desperate to blame the hangover on anything other than your actual, ahem, drinking. “It must’ve been the sulfites,” you think to yourself while reaching for a bottle of coconut water. Not so fast, sister. Sulfites are one of the most misunderstood components in wine, and contrary to what you might believe, they probably don’t have anything to do with your massive hangover. We talked to Orsi Szentkiraly, editor of the forthcoming book from National Geographic, The New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia, to set the record straight about the role sulfites play in winemaking and whether or not they’re actually bad for you. We also chatted with Dr. Michael Roizen, author of What to Eat When Cookbook, about a more likely reason for your wine headache, and what to do to prevent it in the future.
What Exactly Are Sulfites, And Why Are They In My Wine?
Sulfites are sulfur-based compounds that are commonly used as preservatives in a variety of different foods. However, they’re more notoriously known for the role they play in winemaking. Szentkiraly explained that sulfites have been used in the winemaking process for centuries as an antibacterial and antioxidative tool. “Because wine barrels are so porous, effective cleaners like sulfites are needed to sanitize them properly,” she said. Sulfites are also used to prevent oxidation of grapes. In simpler terms, “just like you would squeeze lemon juice over a sliced apple to prevent browning, sulfites help grapes maintain freshness and color,” Szentkiraly explained. These naturally occurring compounds have been an essential aspect of the winemaking process for centuries and continue to demonstrate their benefits in modern vineyards today. In fact, their antioxidative properties are part of the reason so many of the wines we love are available today. The surprising thing? Szentkiraly says that “sulfites exist in almost every bottle of wine, whether you happen to notice the label on the back of the bottle or not.”
Can Sulfites Affect How I Feel?
That depends! “Sulfites will only affect you if you have severe asthma or a preexisting sensitivity to them, and if you do have a genetic sensitivity, you’ll know about it before drinking a glass of wine,” Szentkiraly says. That’s because sulfites are used in a huge variety of foods, from dried apricots to frozen french fries, and ingesting those will likely aggravate you just as much or more than the wine will. If you do have a sensitivity, consuming sulfites would give you respiratory symptoms like shortness of breath, trouble breathing and a possible asthma attack. It would NOT give you a headache. Therefore, even if you did have sensitivity to sulfites, the symptoms do not resemble those of a hangover. Thus, Szentkiraly says you cannot blame a wine headache on the existence of sulfites. “The worst thing in wine is alcohol,” she says, “not sulfites.”
The most surprising part? Szentkiraly notes that less than 1% of the population actually has a legitimate sensitivity to sulfites. Mind. Blown.
If It’s Not The Sulfites, Why Do I Have A Headache?
If you’ve gotten to this point in the article, you probably realize that sulfites aren’t the reason for your headache. Let’s say it real loud once more for the people in the back: if, (and that’s a big if) sulfites make you feel anything at all, they certainly will not make you feel the symptoms of a hangover. But that’s not to say that other things in wine can’t exacerbate your heavy head, swollen sinuses, and stuffy nose. We spoke to Dr. Michael Roizen about the other components in wine that might contribute to a nasty morning after drinking. Dr. Roizen says “a more likely offender is the histamines in red wine, rather than the sulfites.” Histamines are an organic compound that are present in a variety of fermented products like sauerkraut and cheese, and are particularly prevalent in red wine. Roizen says that histamines affect a much larger number of people and can absolutely cause headaches and a stuffy nose. Unfortunately, he notes that the best way to prevent histamine headaches is to avoid the foods that bother you. Bummer! “Wine headaches are almost entirely due to alcohol and dehydration,” says Dr. Roizen. His hangover solution is one we know all too well and seem to forget all too easily: stopping dehydration in its tracks by following every glass of wine with a glass of water.
The bottom line? Don’t be afraid of the “contains sulfites” label on the back of a wine bottle unless you have a legitimate preexisting condition. If you notice that a certain bottle of wine bothers you more than another, just pop it back on the shelf and follow Dr. Roizen’s advice: more water, less hangover.
Images: Kelsey Knight / Unsplash
New year, same hangover. If you’re reading this, you’re most likely on your couch, staring longingly at the sink, desperate for water. Your makeup is still half-on from last night (your clothes half-off), and a half-eaten slice of drunk pizza is laying on the floor next to you. Basically, you’re only half-alive at this point. Your hangover has taken over and you are seriously regretting every decision you made leading up to this point, aka that last round of tequila shots chased by Fireball: innovative in the moment, highly regrettable now. You were on top of the world last night, but you’re on the floor today. Before you lose all hope and pledge to never drink again (because we all know you’re lying) allow me to restore your faith in the world. Seriously, take a break from re-watching your own Insta story for the 10th time and get ready to refresh your hangover.
I get it, your mouth’s as dry as the Sahara Desert and you’re completely depleted of all essential electrolytes. You know you need to drink something, but what you choose to drink can be key in alleviating the effects of your killer hangover. While hydrating yourself is important, you want to get the right liquids into your system. I know Chad from Kappa Kappa Whatever once told you that “You can’t get hungover if you never stop drinking!” but that sage advice doesn’t sound very appealing when even the thought of alcohol makes you want to crawl into a freshly dug grave.
While coffee may sound like the perfect way to perk up your barren soul, caffeine is actually a diuretic and a Venti size coffee can end up increasing your current state of dehydration, which in turn will increase your current state of misery. Instead reach for one of the 20 half-drank water bottles sitting on your nightstand. If you are one of those
psychopaths people who “don’t like water”, you can also go for coconut water for a healthy source of electrolytes to rehydrate you after a night of dancing on tables and drunkenly petitioning MTV to bring back The Real World.
If you’re feeling nauseous, pretend to be British and pour yourself some fresh ginger tea. Your bad accent will amuse you and the ginger tea will rehydrate you and settle your stomach. Pedialyte is another great way to replenish your electrolyte levels and rehydrate, without consuming high amounts of sugar. Plus this way, the cashier at Target might think you have a sick baby at home, versus the look of shame when grabbing a sugar-packed sports drinks, like Gatorade, which screams hangover. So really it’s a win-win.
Breakfast Of Hungover Champions
You need food, especially if you dispelled your late-night snacks in the backseat of your Uber on the way home. Similar to hydrating yourself properly, being strategic with your breakfast can also aide in the hangover relief. So wander on over to your local greasy spoon, aka the Starbucks on the corner, and order yourself some egg bites. Eggs are rich in the amino acid cysteine, which your liver needs in order to break down the alcohol toxin acetaldehyde.
And what’s eggs without a little Sriracha? Channel your inner Beyoncé, and grab the hot sauce out of your bag. Eating something spicy can help you beat your hangover. There’s a compound in capsaicin, which is a key ingredient in most spicy foods, called substance P. Substance P contains anti-inflammatory properties, and is also used in chronic pain management, which is often how I refer to my hangovers.
First off, there is no shame in seeking relief from some classic over-the-counter meds. You hear, that douchey all-natural “my body is a temple” ex-boyfriend? Taking a pain reliever can help reduce the severity of your hangover, which in turn will make you appear less like a creature straight out of The Lord of the Rings. Even if you don’t have a headache, taking an ibuprofen can help. That’s because inflammation in your brain can cause a majority of classic hangover symptoms, like nausea, so taking an anti-inflammatory can help make your morning after all the more bearable.
However, not all pain relievers are created equal. Different medications are processed through different organs in the body. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is broken down and metabolized almost entirely by your liver. Considering the reason that you are lying in a pool of pain and despair is because you put your liver through hell the night before, giving it more drugs to process is not the way to go. Your liver is stressed out enough, so be kind to your organs and opt for ibuprofen (Advil) instead, which is processed mainly through your kidneys. Your liver will thank you.
Get Up And Get Moving
Okay, I get it. You would rather accidentally like your ex’s new girlfriend’s 3-month-old Instagram post than crawl out of your blanket fort. But, doing light exercise, like walking to the fridge, strolling to the mailbox, or striking a warrior pose and then dubbing yourself a yogi guru, can help boost your body’s metabolism. Partaking in some basic movement gets your blood circulating at a faster rate than when you’re sitting. The faster you circulate blood through your liver, the faster your body will remove the toxins, thus the faster you’ll come back to life.
Okay, so go throw on your oversized pair of sunglasses and get your ass to brunch. Get up and get moving, order yourself a coconut water, some eggs benedict, and get the phone number of that super-hot waiter you’re staring at. Your body will bounce back just in time for you to go out and destroy your liver all over again! Doesn’t that sound like fun?
It’s a new year, don’t settle for the same hangover.
Images: Shutterstock.com; Giphy (4)
You wake up, slowly. Open one eye and survey last night’s damage. Pounding headache. Nausea. A cut on your right kneecap, when the fuck did that happen? Face and pillowcase full of smeared makeup. Oops, one shoe still on. At least you’re in your own bed, although you can’t quite remember getting home. Pretty standard Saturday and/or Sunday morning.
Every self-respecting betch has figured out her signature hangover cure by now. Some have their scrambled eggs down to an art form. Others head straight to brunch and re-tox on mimosas and Bloody Marys. Russian betches eat pickles. Stoner betches light up.
You’re all doing it wrong.
My nutritionist (yes, I have a nutritionist, get over it) has imparted such wisdom that we should probably turn her clinic into some kind of altar. Betches all around the world will embark on pilgrimages to worship at her desk.
The best way to kill a hangover is to eat a salad.
How is this possible, you may ask. Why are all the brunch places serving up aesthetically-pleasing eggs and carbs when our hangovers could all be broken by a bowl of leafy greens? Answer: Because they’re fucking dumb too.
It actually makes sense if you think about it. Vegetables are packed full of water. Water is what your poor abused body needs. Chop up some lettuce or baby spinach or whatever and mix with any and all vegetables you have in the fridge. Bonus if it’s cucumber and celery which are like 80 percent water. Add healthy fats such as avocado and olive oil to help with the “healing process”—yes, she actually called it that.
You also get the bonus of not feeling like a cow after consuming several thousand alcohol calories and a heavy brunch in the same 24 hours.
I was skeptical too, betches. But trust me. This shit actually works. You’re welcome.
Don’t you just hate when you wake up on a Friday morning after
ten three vodka sodas the night before, looking like the crypt keeper and having 20 minutes to get your shit together and get to work? This is my daily struggle. Tbh there are very few things in this world that I appreciate more than products that are designed to help me drink/make me look good while I’m drinking/cover up the fact that I have been drinking. But Too Faced is about to have a seat at The Plastics’ table because they’re set to release a beauty product that helps hide your hangovers. Not all heroes wear capes, people. The Hangover 3-in-1 Primer and Setting Spray (Jesus, that’s a mouth full) will be included in Too Faced’s fall beauty collection launching this June.
The fall collection will also feature, what else, more new additions to the Unicorn Tears franchise because apparently that trend will never die.
The goal of the Hangover spray is to revive your skin, leaving you fresh-faced and glowing. The ultra-fine mist is infused with hydrating coconut water and probiotics to keep your skin moisturized throughout all the shit you put it through. At its core the product is a priming mist that you can use before applying makeup, to set your finished look, or to just spritz it on if you want your face to spell like a piña colada. Because bonus: it smells like my spring break trip to Cabo minus the body shots and tequila.
I’m torn because on the one hand, Too Faced is supporting the unicorn trend enough so that they’re trying to make this still a thing come fall, which on principle I cannot stand by. But on the other hand, they’re actually saving lives with this hangover primer and setting spray. Who am I kidding, come June I’ll be in line with the rest of the basics because I’d rather buy a beauty product than, say, fix my
drinking social habits.
We may as well accept that hangovers are just a part of life. This is why you never make plans on Sunday. Because no matter how hard you try, you will have to cancel them in favor of staying in your bed and guzzling Advil all day. Unfortunately, the older you get, the less down your body is to recover after a night of whiskey shots on an empty stomach. And even when you remember to actually drink water while you’re out (accidentally drinking a sip because you thought it was vodka doesn’t count) you still find yourself feeling like you got hit by a truck the next morning. Or maybe you actually were hit by a truck? Saturday night is always kind of a blur TBH.
In an attempt to further get our shit together, we believe that a handy-dandy guide on what to eat when you’re praying to the porcelain gods is both useful and necessary.
Here are the top five things your body is craving when you’re hungover and what to actually eat instead, because even though you feel like you’ll throw up any food you consume, the calories still count.
You’re Craving: Nachos
Eat: Beans and Avocado
Ok so while the whole green mushy thing may not SEEM totally appetizing when you’re dealing with a case of the spins, it actually is. Your body wants nachos and other greasy, cheesy shit because you’re dehydrated and low on protein and potassium. A cup of cooked black beans will give you a boost of magnesium (which will help cramps and general hangover discomfort) AND some B vitamins to help that whole “feeling like shit” thing. The avocado will boost your potassium levels, fixing your dizzy feeling, and will stabilize your sodium levels. So, grab a bean bowl slathered in some guacamole and you’ll be on the road to recovery. Just skip the cheese and chips.
You’re Craving: A pint of greasy Chinese food
Eat: Miso soup
We all, for some fucking reason, crave copious amounts of Asian cuisine when we’re experiencing regrets and borderline alcohol poisoning from the night before. But reaching for that bowl of rice and sesame chicken can actually make your hangover worse, thanks to a shit ton of salt and too much grease in your delicate tummy. Instead, grab some miso soup which will help rehydrate you (thanks, broth) and restock your depleted sodium levels. If you don’t have miso soup handy, you can get it from literally any self-respecting sushi place. Just order like 10 of them to meet the delivery minimum and be sure to say “Arigato!” to your delivery guy.
You’re Craving: A burger with bacon and cheese
Eat: An egg and smoked salmon sandwich
Like we said before, a ton of grease can make your hangover worse, and if you’re craving a burger, your body is pleading for protein. Replace that beefy burger with smoked salmon, which is rich in the good fatty acids and a great source of B12—all of which will make you feel better. The eggs have lots of calcium, Vitamin D, and even more B12. So, opt for the protein powerhouse that is an egg and salmon benedict over a greasy burger.
You’re Craving: A Bloody Mary
Eat/Drink: Tomato Juice
So for some reason we all still ascribe to the whole hair of the dog thing. It’s antiquated and super wrong, and sadly, can lead to even worse hangover symptoms. If you want the taste without the terrible side effects, make yourself a virgin Bloody Mary with tomato juice, celery, and a pickle or two thrown in. Tomato juice boosts your liver functions, which you definitely need after last night. The pickles will help even out your sodium levels, and the celery will help with hydration.
You’re Craving: Fries
Eat: Sweet potato fries
Ok so this is a win-win. You CAN have fries after your all-night drinking sesh, but make sure they’re spun from sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, potassium, and B vitamins, all of which will aid in the recovery process. Because starches are harder for your body to quickly break down, you won’t experience a spike in blood sugar leaving you to crash later. We can’t guarantee you won’t crash later because you went to bed at 5am, but at least it won’t be from the carbs, right?
Listen up, fatties. Whether or not you gave a fuck about what was happening on the television last night, you and I both know you drank enough beer during the Super Bowl to put Tom Brady under the table. But now the celebration/mourning/excuse for drinking is over and it’s time to drag your bloated, hungover body into work like an adult with bills to pay and a mouth to feed.
The good news is that it’s winter, so you don’t have to worry about photos of your newfound beer belly winding up in a bikini pic on Instagram. The bad news is that if you’re anything like me, you feel like an extra on The Walking Dead right now (read: zombielike, vaguely miserable, and underpaid).
So what’s a betch to do? Follow advice she found on the internet, obviously. Here are 7 ways to detox after doing one kegstand too many last night.
1. Drink A Fuckton Of Water
Research shows that hangovers are caused at least in part by dehydration. While the very thought of chugging anything may make you want to vom right now, start sipping on some water ASAP.
2. Replace Your Electrolytes
Again, you’re probably super dehydrated right now, which means you need to replenish all the body salts you lost while participating in the great American tradition of getting blackout. Sports drinks and salty soups like miso soup are good sources of electrolytes, plus they make you look like you just did something athletic.
3. Eat A Banana
Apparently potassium is good for counterbalancing sodium, so it can reduce all that water making you swell to three times your size. If you don’t like bananas for whatever reason (I get it; you can’t transport them anywhere without them turning to mush, you can’t eat them in public for fear that some perv will get the wrong idea), snack on other potassium-rich foods like sweet potatoes, yogurt, clams, etc.
4. Go For A Walk
Studies have shown that going for a walk after eating helps lower your blood sugar and get your digestive system moving faster. I’m assuming you’ve already digested all the beer from last night, but go for a walk just in case—your body can use all the help it can get. It also puts you in a better mood, so you might manage to make it through the day without stabbing someone in the eye with a ballpoint pen.
5. Make Asparagus Tonight
Asparagus is also known to help your hangover go away faster by upregulating cell metabolisms. In other words, it helps you metabolize alcohol faster. Who knew?
6. Go For A Starbucks Run
Caffeine has been shown to reduce headaches caused by hangovers, so indulge in your Starbucks addiction today, assuming you haven’t already. Just make sure to go back to #1 and drink water afterward, because caffeine causes dehydration.
7. Skip The Seltzer
Carbonated drinks have bubbles in them. Bubbles contain air. Gas and bloating are caused by air in your digestive system. You do the math—stay far, far away from carbonated stuff today, unless you want to continue looking and feeling like the angry marshmallow man from Ghostbusters.