A recent study has found that go-to hangover cures might not be all they’re cracked up to be.
Many of us turn to hangover cures in hopes of ditching that dreaded post-bender feeling the next morning—drinking light-colored cocktails, sucking back loads of water, eating specific drunk-people foods, even falling for that “hair of the dog” foo-foo nonsense. But scientists have discovered what we’ve known all along (you know, deep down): that the only way to avoid a hangover is to drink less, or not at all.
A group of researchers from the Netherlands and Canada surveyed the drinking habits of 789 Canadian students, covering deets like the number of drinks, the timeframe of consumption, and the severity of their hangover. Researchers calculated the estimated Blood Alcohol Concentration in those who experienced hangovers and those who didn’t.
“In general, we found a pretty simple relationship: the more you drink, the more likely you are to get a hangover,” lead author Joris Verster said in a statement. “The majority of those who in fact reported never having a hangover tended to drink less, perhaps less than they themselves thought would lead to a hangover.” (79 percent of participants who claimed not to experience hangovers had an estimated blood alcohol level of less than 0.10%, with the legal limit in the U.S. being around 0.08%.)
Researchers then looked at whether hangover cures like eating or drinking water right after drinking alcohol decreased your chances of experiencing one. They surveyed 826 Dutch students about their latest drinking sesh, and whether they had food or water post-binge. Over 50 percent ate after drinking, and were asked to rate their hangover (from non-existent to brutal). It turned out there was a barely-there difference between the two groups.
“Those who took food or water showed a slight statistical improvement in how they felt over those who didn’t, but this didn’t really translate into a meaningful difference,” said Verster. “From what we know from the surveys so far, the only practical way to avoid a hangover is to drink less alcohol.”
Okay, so you’re probably feeling exactly how you did when you found out the truth about Santa Claus, but don’t fret: “These are early questionnaire-based studies, and are amongst the first of their kind,” said Verster. “This means they have limitations, but they do give us an indication of what happens. Our next step is to move forward with more controlled trials.”
In other words, there may be legit hangover cures coming soon to a dive bar near you. Time for a celebratory cocktail?
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