Health: Beat Holiday Hangovers

Society | December 27, 2002, Friday // 00:00

The Christmas season is always a round of parties. The only drawback to all this good cheer is the hangovers that are bound to follow when you over-indulge.

During the holidays, one needs to be a little more vigilant of alcohol intake.

But if you do choose to drink a lot, remember that the general rule is the darker the alcohol, the worse the hangover. Impurities and additives in alcohol, also called congeners, are key contributors to hangover aches, pains and dehydration.

While vodka and white wine have lower congener levels, red wine, scotch and bourbon are overflowing with these villains. Consider sticking to white wine or vodka on New Year's Eve.

The first thing to remember is that alcohol, or ethanol as it is in its pure form, is a diuretic - a substance that encourages urination, leaving the drinker dehydrated because the body loses more water than it takes in.

The body reacts to this lack of water by taking it from other areas, such as the brain - one reason why hangovers are associated with headaches.

That is why if you have hangover, doctors advise to drink large quantities of water chased with a freshly squeezed vegetable juice cocktail seasoned with hot pepper sauce.

Vegetables contain antioxidants, which help repair cell damage, while hot pepper sauce contains the painkiller capsaicin. You can also try eating onion soup, which contains fructose or fruit sugar that helps the body metabolize alcohol more quickly.

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