Despite the silly season being well and truly over, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we’re safe from ourselves. Yes -- we’re talking about the ever enduring “what-even-happened-last-night” hangover.
We’ve all been there. It’s uncomfortable. It’s painful. And it makes us question what we are doing with our lives.
For most of us, the only way forward is reaching for the painkillers. However, while paracetamol may help with your headache the morning after a night of heavy drinking, it may be hurting your liver.
“Paracetamol, which is also known as acetaminophen, is generally used to treat pain and fever. Although it may help ease the symptom of a headache, acetaminophen can cause great havoc on your liver if ingested while intoxicated,” Robbie Clark, accredited practising dietitian, sports nutritionist and the co founder of TheHealthClinic.com.au told The Huffington Post Australia.
This is because by popping a pill your liver becomes confused. All of a sudden, its job of processing the alcohol from the night before gets put on hold as it tries to break down the painkiller.
“When your liver is busy metabolising alcohol, it processes the painkiller differently than it otherwise would. As a result, toxic compounds are produced that can cause inflammation and damage to the liver,” Clark said.
The takeaway? Unless you've got a killer headache (without any other symptoms) you're probably better off avoiding painkillers altogether and instead, putting the following steps into practice.
Step one: Rehydrate
We know that alcohol is a diuretic that causes you to lose more fluid than you consume. As a result, many of the effects of a hangover are related to dehydration.
“While water won’t necessarily cure a hangover, it can help with some of the issues that contribute to it, such as dehydration,” Clark said.
TIP: “Try to drink some water before you go to bed so you can kickstart the rehydrating process. The following morning, you should aim to fill up a big cup or bottle of water and take a sip or two every few minutes. Keep sipping water all day, even after your hangover is gone,” Clark said.
Step two: Avoid the fast food breakfast, opt for homemade eggs
“While fatty foods will temporarily distract your stomach, you may not be providing your body with the nutrients it craves after a big night out,” Clark said.
TIP: “Egg yolks are rich in cysteine, an amino acid that scientists believe may break down acetaldehyde, a toxin that is produced when the liver processes alcohol, which is also responsible for some hangover symptoms,” Clark said.
Step three: Choose lighter food for the rest of the day
“A smarter way to feed a hangover is with lighter food like dry toast, boiled rice or pasta, plain yoghurt or stewed fruit and plenty of fluid,” Clark said.
TIP: “Freshly squeezed juices are a great way to increase fluid intake as well as providing vitamin C which may assist the liver in flushing the toxins from the alcohol. Bananas are another champion food since they are high in potassium, an electrolyte that is lost as a result of heavy drinking,” Clark said.
Step four: Rest up!