From a scientific point of view, the onset of a hangover means your blood’s concentration of ethanol – the alcohol we appreciate for its intoxicating qualities – is fast approaching zero.
That is the paradox mystery of the hangover.
Even science isn’t sure what exactly causes one.
Your hangover symptoms may be directly or indirectly related to alcohol.
Not necessarily. Analysis of urine of hung-over participants show ethanol concentrations may or may not be correlated with severity of symptoms like nausea, sleepiness and sweating.
What I drank?
How I drank it?
Could the one thing you sought to ease the symptoms, be a contributor? Alcohol consumption does alter the ratio and production of ghrelin and leptin - gut hormones that influence appetite and trigger cravings for the consumption of salty, fatty foods. Some research shows the consumption of unaccustomed foods close to alcohol consumption can exacerbate the severity of symptoms. (And no, that is not a green light for increasing kebab consumption).
We also know that just a few drinks kills the anabolic and fat oxidation responses of exercise. Yeah, you’ve blown your muscle building, fat burning workout efforts for the week but the kebab was so worth it…
Interestingly, researchers suggest other factors, such as sleep and eating patterns, are significant in contributing to perceived hangover severity than a heightened sensitivity to alcohol.
Can I beat it?
Unfortunately, no nutrient – macro or micro, has been shown clearly to speed the elimination of a hangover.
Caffeine? Will just make you a wide awake drunk (and no body wants that.)
Until we understand the pathology of a hangover, we’re unlikely to find a cure.
Your regular meal plan, drinking non-alcoholic fluids, and reducing the amount of alcohol consumed, all seem unfashionably logical - so does getting enough sleep. A hangover might be nature’s way of telling you not to do it again. Being human naturally, we tend to do the exact opposite.
Recommended reading: Living & Training with Alcohol