Holiday Hangovers: A Doctor’s Advice

Doctors offer plenty of advice to patients, but it’s not often that a doctor weighs in on treatments to help a hangover. Dr. Moshe Lewis, chief of physical medicine and rehabilitation at California Pacific Medical Center, St. Luke’s Campus, shared his ideas with me on how to alleviate a hangover when the spirit to imbibe overwhelms you.

Hangover Prevention

Dr. Lewis says he agrees with your grandma – don’t get yourself into a hangover situation in the first place. Abstinence is the best prevention strategy of all. It allows you the ability to enjoy the sheer fun of being with close family and friends. Yet, the reality for some people is that the thought of socializing leads to anxiety, depression or fear. In turn, many people self-medicate with alcohol. Simple strategies aimed at reduction include setting firm limits. Substituting non-alcoholic drinks throughout the evening or arriving late to the party are worthy of consideration. However, if you find that you haven’t followed Grandma’s advice, Dr. Lewis has some tips to quickly get you back to the holiday festivities.

Hangover Remedy

When you arrive home after significant drinking and want to avoid the hangover that’s no-doubt coming, take two Ibuprofen tablets, drink peppermint tea and eat some carbohydrates, recommends Dr. Lewis. Alcohol reduces your sugar levels, so what you need is instant energy. Sugar replaces the energy your brain cells need in order to function properly, and most typical “hangover-cures” contain carbohydrates or sugar; this is why people find them to be effective.

Carbs, such as bread, chicken noodle soup and yogurt help by restoring the sugar levels in your body. Natural sugars, which can be found in bananas, apples and fiber bars, will give you instant energy, and they are healthy choices. Proteins, such as meat, milk and eggs, provide longer-term energy needs for your body.

Thus, Dr. Lewis suggests anything that metabolizes quickly – yup, even peanut M&Ms – to restore your sugar levels and give you the energy you need. Greasy foods, on the other hand – think burgers and cheese steak sandwiches – typically take longer to digest, which is why they are not ideal.

Remember: you’re craving certain foods for a reason. Cravings reflect something that your body needs, explains Dr. Lewis. It’s not a bad idea to go with what your body is asking for.

Contrary to popular belief, you should avoid too much coffee, as it can further dehydrate you.

Source: Interview, Moshe Lewis, M.D.; November, 2011
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