Now that the Summer Solstice is here, the cookouts, weddings, parties, and happy hours are rotating in our schedules. With all these Orange Crushes and wine tastings, hangovers seem inevitable. The science of hangovers (and how to prevent them) is largely unstudied, which is why people have been inventing their own “cures” for centuries. Though no one meal or drink can cure a hangover, certain foods are better for refueling than others. After waking up with a pounding head, aim to restock your body with necessary fluids and nutrients like vitamins, amino acids, and minerals that can help break down toxins your liver metabolize all the alcohol in your system. Eating certain foods like beets and cruciferous vegetables can speed up that process.
Old-school wisdom preaches reaching for cold pizza or a greasy bacon sandwich, but wait—some foods are scientifically proven to help cure a hangover! Read on to learn which foods can alleviate post-party symptoms and which should be avoided.
What to Reach for
2. Ginger or Peppermint Tea For a soothing brew, look no further than your favorite herbal tea. Studies show that ginger tea may reduce nausea and motion sickness. Peppermint tea (a common morning sickness cure for pregnant women) may also ease stomach pain and decrease nausea.
3. Pickle Juice
This hangover remedy is weird, but sources swear it works! The sour liquid contains vinegar, salt, and water, which can help rehydrate and replenish electrolyte and sodium levels. To make the most of it, sip 2oz (measure it out in a standard shotglass) before hitting the bars and another 2oz in the morning.
While waking up with zero energy sounds like the perfect time for a cup of Joe, it actually could worsen that headache, since caffeine is a mild diuretic. Still, if you drink coffee daily, stick with your habit; The liquid in coffee can help rehydrate your body, and it does give you a little boost of energy. Plus, a study showed that the combo of caffeine and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs (like Advil or aspirin) may help counteract the head-pounding effects of a hangover.
This breakfast staple is a brunch all-star for a reason. Eggs are chock full of hardworking amino acids like cysteine and taurine. Taurine boosts liver function and may help prevent liver disease. Cysteine breaks down acetaldehyde, the yucky headache-causing chemical that’s left over when the liver breaks down ethanol (alcohol).
6. Bananas, Dates, and Leafy Greens
These brightly colored foods contain potassium, an important electrolyte that is often depleted due to alcohol’s diuretic effect. Not feeling a salad first thing in the morning? Add some yogurt (which contains even more potassium) and blend into a hangover-fighting smoothie.
7. Chicken Soup
Nothing says “wild night out” like a bowl of mom’s famous chicken soup, right? It might not be the most conventional hangover food, but chicken soup can help restock sodium and water levels in the body. Chicken also contains cysteine, which give the liver a much-needed boost.
8. Miso Soup
Sushi is the last thing most people want to eat with a hangover, but there’s no reason to shun all Japanese food. Like traditional chicken noodle, miso soup is a great morning-after remedy—the broth rehydrates and restocks sodium levels while the fermented miso can help aid digestion.
9. Whole Grain Crackers or Toast with Honey
Since crackers can be loaded with preservatives, pick a healthier option like Wasa or a 100% whole-wheat variety. Crackers and whole-wheat toast are both bland carbs that slowly raise low blood sugar, without upsetting the stomach. Add a drizzle of mineral-rich honey for even more instant energy. Just remember to follow it with some protein later in the day to offset the blood-sugar surge.
This whole grain is a super food when you’re feeling less than stellar in the morning. A hot bowl of oatmeal has plenty of essential nutrients like B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and iron. Plus, oats can help neutralize acids in the body and raise blood sugar levels, giving you an instant energy boost.
What to Avoid
2. Hair of the Dog
This wacky expression comes from a Norwegian folk saying that claims the best cure incorporates the substance that did the damage in the first place. Scandinavian wisdom aside, drinking in the morning is never the solution. An alcoholic beverage can help take the edge off in the morning, but it will further dehydrate the body and lead to even worse hangover symptoms later in the day.
3. Orange Juice
Lay off the OJ after a night on the town. Sour citrus like orange and grapefruit can irritate an already sensitive stomach. Also, skip tomato juice—it is also acidic, making a Bloody Mary at brunch probably the worst choice for a hungover morning.
When hungover, your body is screaming its loudest. Take the time to listen to your body and give it the break from toxins it needs to heal.
Jacqueline Corbett, MS RD LD
Registered Dietitian, #NKFitSquad Dietitian.
Women's Health & Fitness Specialist.