Treating Hangovers

Treating hangovers is never fun but there are many hangover remedies and hangover tips out there to treat your hangover and ease some of the pain.

The best thing to try for getting rid of a hangover is sleep. When you’re in a resting state, your body can focus on ridding itself of alcohol’s toxins instead of other activities. You’ll probably feel like doing this anyway, as the body will be weak. Consider taking a sick day over forcing yourself into work, unless you enjoy naps on your keyboard.

Beyond resting, there are many hangover tips out there regarding what to eat and drink. Focus on rehydrating your body with plenty of water and fresh fruit/vegetable juices. The vitamin C found in orange juice can be helpful just be aware that a lot of acidity and an upset stomach do not mix well. Drinks like Gatorade and Coconut water are an excellent way to restock the electrolytes lost after heavy drinking. Use dehydrating substances like caffeine in moderation (if at all) and try to stick to high mineral foods like canned fish or pickles (if you can stomach it).

Some look to drinking again in the morning as a hangover remedy. The tomato juice and celery in a Bloody Mary will provide some vitamins to the body and having new alcohol in the system distracts the body from remnants of last night’s booze fest that are still in the blood. A morning-after fallacy for treating hangovers is the “hair of the dog”, which is not recommended since you are just prolonging the inevitable.

You can try taking a shower and alternating from cold water to hot, which has been known to help. Alka Seltzer is another thing people go to for hangover relief. Some partake in good old fashion exercise as a cure. If you are well enough to muster the energy for it, try drinking some water, getting outdoors and sweating it out.

Meds may seem like a good option for killing the pain but in reality their side effects are amplified when alcohol is in the system and are best avoided. Alcohol and aspirin are both blood thinners so mixing the two is not a wise choice. Acetaminophen, aka Tylenol, can cause liver damage when mixed with liquor. Ibuprofen can be taken if necessary but even with this drug you have the chance of stomach bleeding so it’s best to steer clear of all pain killers if possible.

Exploring what happens to the body after a lot of drinking has shown that hangover relief can be attained through various means. However, treating hangovers and getting rid of all the symptoms completely can only be obtained through time.

How to Prevent Hangovers

You want to know how to prevent hangovers? Let’s start with the simplest answer: don’t drink. That is really the only way that you can assure yourself you won’t have a hangover.

How to Prevent Hangovers

If you are going to drink think: hydration. One of the major contributors to hangover symptoms is dehydration. Remember that consuming alcohol makes you have to go to the bathroom because of the effects of vasopressin. Drinking water or an electrolyte drink (such as Gatorade or Pedialyte) before, during, and/or after drinking alcohol might help reduce the severity of your hangover.

This type of hydration tactic helps hangovers in a few ways, the most important one being that there is a chance that staying hydrated (by drinking an non-alcoholic drink in between alcoholic drinks) will impede the volume of alcohol you would otherwise consume if you were only drinking alcohol. If you are able drink an electrolyte drink, using this method will also aid in maintaining electrolyte levels.

Along this same rational, drinking beverages with less alcohol concentration can help curtail hangovers as well… less alcohol going in means less alcohol in your system to add to the severity of your hangover.

Avoiding alcohol known to be high in congeners will lend a hand in reducing symptoms too, so drinking clear alcohol (instead of red wine or the dark stuff) can limit the amount of congeners you consume. Also some red wines are high in histamines, so you could be getting a mild allergic reaction when you drink and not even know it. The best call if you are going to drink is to consume light beer.

Bananas Cure Hangovers

Can bananas cure hangovers, really? One thing is for sure, eating bananas is a tasty way to treat a hangover. Alcohol can suck the potassium right out of you, which makes you feel sick the next morning. By replenishing yourself with bananas, you are fortifying your diet with one of the best natural sources of potassium you could ever eat.

Bananas cure hangovers?

Bananas are also a good source of B6, a vitamin that can also help with hangovers. The fruit contains a lot of magnesium, which calms blood vessels and eases a throbbing head. Since bananas are also an antacid they help get rid of heartburn and upset stomachs, quite the multi-purpose fruit!

Have a banana or two before bed after a night of drinking and you may help your morning. If you wake up feeling crummy, try blending some bananas up to make a great tasting smoothie. You can even try boiling two banana peels in one cup of water, and drink the “banana tea” for soothing relief.

So it is not really true that bananas cure hangovers, but they do help… learn more about home remedies for hangovers here.

Rice Wine and its Effects on the Body

Rice wine is a traditional alcoholic beverage in many parts of Asia. It is produced by microbial fermentation of steamed rice with yeast and water. Different versions of this drink exist and they are locally known by different names; for instance: sake in Japan, makgeolli or takju in Korea and brem in Bali. Although rice wine has been introduced to many other countries through trade and globalization, research into its characteristics and health benefits is still predominantly conducted in the regions of its origin. Moreover, the results are not often published in international journals, which can make accurate knowledge about rice wine and its effects on the body less accessible.

Rice Wine and its Effects on the Body | Sake

Effects on the Body — The Good and the Bad

When compared to traditional wine (made from grapes or other fruits), as well as beer, wine made from rice contains more alcohol. Its alcohol content can be in the range of 18% to 25%. In comparison, regular wine usually contains 10% to 20% alcohol, where beer ranges 4% to 8% alcohol. Therefore, it is natural to assume that drinking too much of this wine — or any other alcoholic beverage for that matter — might not be beneficial for the body. Moreover, because of rice wine’s higher alcohol content, the familiar side effects of alcohol — such as nausea, blurry vision, lost balance, lost muscle control and a hangover — might be felt earlier than consuming a similar portion of drink with less alcohol content.

However, there are also many documented health benefits of drinking rice wine. Nutritional analysis of Korean makgeolli has shown that despite the alcohol rice wine is a highly nutritious beverage that contains an abundance of essential amino acids, sugars and organic acids, as well as vitamins and minerals (Yang & Eun, 2011). Since rice wine is a fermented product, it is not surprising that the drink also contains many strains of lactic acid bacteria (LAB), which are often considered probiotic. A multidisciplinary group of researchers from Korea investigated 17 LABs that can be found in traditional Korean wine and assessed their probiotic potential. To be considered a ‘good’ probiotic, an organism needs to tolerate low stomach pH and bile acids, as well as be able to adhere to the intestines. Researchers identified one particular strain of LAB in rice wine that showed to be more resistant than others (Park et al., 2015). Their findings could potentially help the food industry produce higher quality beverages with true probiotic value.

Anti-cancer and Anti-bacterial Activity of Rice Wine

Scientists from the Korean Food Research Institute are also looking into the anti-cancer potential of makgeolli. They discovered that using dealcoholized rice wine could cause the death of gastric cancer cells in mice (AGS human gastric adenocarcinoma cells). Tumors in this study reduced in size and volume when animals were injected with a dosage of 500mg/kg of non-alcoholic makgeolli mixture for 7 weeks. This suggests that plant extracts used in the drink could have an anti-cancer effect, which needs to be examined further (Shin et al., 2015).

In China, research into the health benefits of rice wine also showed that this drink might have an antioxidant effect and help with the destruction of free radicals. Free radicals have previously been linked with the development of cancer and other health conditions. Moreover, scientists from the Jiangnan University suggested that polysaccharides found in Chinese rice wine could be connected with the beneficial activity of the immune system (Shen et al, 2014).

To add to the list of benefits, a research group from Taiwan showed that rice wine has an anti-bacterial effect, too. The group studied commercial rice wine extracts and observed antibacterial activity against gram-positive bacteria, such as such as Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus, and gram-negative bacteria, such as Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Chang, Jang, Lin, & Duan, 2016).

Rice wine has also been shown to help improve the skin’s protective function. Experiments conducted in Korea showed that rice wine may be a potential protectant from UV-induced skin aging. When fibroblasts (cells of connective tissue) were treated with rice wine, the expression of procollagen increased (Seo et al., 2009). In addition, rice wine has also been linked to better blood circulation and enhanced body metabolism. Citric and lactic acids in rice wine help with food digestion. When food is properly digested, nutrients are better sorted out and transferred to the right body organs. Studies of Japanese rice wine, sake, also showed that the beverage might have an anti-colic effect. When sake was given orally to mice, they developed a protection against colitis (inflammation of the inner lining of the colon). This healing action has been connected with a certain peptide that is found in rice wine (Kiyono et al., 2016).

Negative Effects of Rice Wine Even for Some Non-drinkers

Although rice wine is purported to have many recognizable health benefits, medical experts also warn that using rice wine as a home remedy can sometimes have a detrimental effect. For instance, doctors from Chicago reported a case of a Korean woman who was brought to the hospital with skin burns. After discharge, her family poured rice wine over her wounds and the dressing, hoping that the wine made from rice would speed up her recovery. As a result, the woman suffered from infection and had to be re-admitted. Her skin was so damaged it had to be removed (Jorge, Kowal-Vern, Poulakidas, & Latenser, 2012).

Although traditional home remedies can often have a therapeutic value, this example shows that generalizations can be dangerous. Health benefits of rice wine should not be taken out of the context of scientific research. Uninformed applications can sometimes have a harmful effect, as seen in this example. Furthermore, and perhaps most important, many medical professionals believe that any potential benefits from the consumption of various alcoholic beverages is not worth the risks that are associated with ingesting ethanol.

Sources & further reading:

Chang, T., Jang, H., Lin, W., & Duan, P. (2016). Antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of commercial rice wine extracts of Taiwanese Allium fistulosum. Food Chemistry, 190724-729. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.06.019

Jorge, J., Kowal-Vern, A., Poulakidas, S. J., & Latenser, B. A. (2012). Rice wine intoxication in a nondrinker. Journal of Burn Care & Research, 33(6), e315. doi:10.1097/BCR.0b013e31824a57af

Kiyono, T., Wada, S., Ohta, R., Wada, E., Takagi, T., Naito, Y., & … Sato, K. (2016). Identification of pyroglutamyl peptides with anti-colitic activity in Japanese rice wine, sake, by oral administration in a mouse model. Journal of Functional Foods, 27612-621. doi:10.1016/j.jff.2016.10.014

Park, Y., Kim, M., Jung, D., Seo, D., Jung, J., Park, J., & … Park, C. (2015). Probiotic properties of lactic acid bacteria isolated from Korean rice wine Makgeolli. Food Science & Biotechnology, 24(5), 1761. doi:10.1007/s10068-015-0229-2

Seo, M., Chung, S., Choi, W., Seo, Y., Jung, S., Park, J., & … Park, C. (2009). Anti-aging effect of rice wine in cultured human fibroblasts and keratinocytes. Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering, 107266-271. doi:10.1016/j.jbiosc.2008.11.016

Shen, C., Mao, J., Chen, Y., Meng, X., & Ji, Z. (2015). Extraction optimization of polysaccharides from Chinese rice wine from the Shaoxing region and evaluation of its immunity activities. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 95(10), 1991-1996.

Shin, E., Kim, S., Kim, J., Ha, J., & Hwang, J. (2015). Dealcoholized Korean Rice Wine (Makgeolli) Exerts Potent Anti-Tumor Effect in AGS Human Gastric Adenocarcinoma Cells and Tumor Xenograft Mice. Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology, 25(9), 1485-1492.

Yang, H., & Eun, J. (2011). Fermentation and sensory characteristics of Korean traditional fermented liquor (Makgeolli) added with citron (Citrus junos SIEB ex TANAKA) juice. Korean Journal of Food Science and Technology, 43(4), 438-445.

Types of Tequila

Types of Tequila

If you are a tequila drinker, you might wonder what types of tequila will give you a hangover? There are literally hundreds of tequila brands, and the quality of a given tequila actually depends on the type and brand. Tequila isn’t really meant to be shot. If you get the right tequila type, you should be able to sip it just like a good bourbon. However, for most party goers cheap tequila is often served in a shot glass, with some salt and a lime, to hide the taste.

Really good tequilas are made from the agave plant commonly referred to as blue agave, mezcal or maguey. There are two main types of Tequila: 1) 100% agave, which is made entirely of Blue Weber Agave — richer with bold flavors; and 2) mixtos. Rule of thumb, if “100% de Agave” is not on the label, it’s probably mixtos. Mixtos fermentation generally constitutes alcohol production from ~51% agave sugars (or more), with the rest coming from fructose and glucose sugar.

Tequilas can be classified further according to their aging process and bottled in five categories:

  • Blanco/Plata/White/Silver Tequila – This type of tequila is average variety and most likely what you can expect from a bar. It has been aged for 60 days or less and is bottled immediately after it has been distilled.
  • Joven/Gold Tequila – These are silver tequilas that are left to age with colorants and flavorings like sweet caramel, sugar syrup or glycerin. They have a smooth, subtle woody flavor and because of the flavorings, have a golden hue.
  • Reposado Tequila – These type of tequilas are more top shelf. They have a smooth, sweet and smoky taste and are richer and more complex than the taste of Blancos. They are aged in oak wood barrels for at least 2 to 12 months. As they age, their color becomes tan.
  • Anejo or Vintaged Tequila – This type of tequila has been aged in oak barrels for a period of one to two years. Anejo means vintage, it has a very dark amber color from the oak. This type of tequila is definitely not used for mixing. It is more sophisticated and more subtle than reposado tequilas.
  • Extra Anejo or ultra-aged tequila – These tequilas are aged more than three years in oak barrels. Batches must not contain more than 600 liters and are usually smaller than 200 liters. It is richer in flavor with hints of smoke, wood and caramel and a very dark color. These are the best tequilas you can get.

So which among the types of tequila actually gives the worst hangover? For one, if you plan on working the next day or you just want to drink a lot, you should look for types of tequila with 100% agave. It is believed that the use of cheap sugars in mixtos type tequilas lead to worse hangovers. Blancos are not aged and most likely would be a mixtos blend, and are well known anecdotally for giving the worst hangovers. Joven or the Gold tequilas aren’t much better. In fact, depending on the recipe they can be worse depending on the additives.

There are over 901 registered tequila brands with 128 producers registered (as of 2008). You are pretty safe with a Reposado, these are rested tequilas which usually means a 100% agave. If in doubt ask the waiter or waitress about the best types of tequila they have. The Anejo and Extra Anejo are always the way to go (if you can afford them) for several reasons: 1) You sip them, so you slow down alcohol consumption (the best accepted way for avoiding hangovers); 2) No need for sugary mixers which can negatively affect some people’s hangover; and 3) They most likely will be thoroughly distilled and filtered reducing congeners.

What are Congeners?

In alcoholic beverages there are impurities called congeners produced during fermentation, which are responsible for some of the taste, aroma, and color of what you drink. These impurities are not the sole cause of a hangover, yet they do seem to contribute in some manner to the severity. Not everything you drink is created equal when it comes to the concentration of these impurities. “Top Shelf” bottles generally contain fewer impurities than the type of booze you find in plastic bottles. This is because expensive liquor usually undergoes a more rigorous distillation process.

Darker colored drinks, such as whiskey, brandy, bourbon and red wine have higher concentrations than lighter drinks such as vodka, gin and white wine. In general, the fermentation and distillation processes determine the concentration in the end product. The problem with congenerics is that there are so many different types of them that not much research has been carried out to test what their exact effect is on intoxication and hangovers. However, what we do know is that for the most part our body does not like them.

Congener Levels in Different Types of Alcohol