Hangovers are the the worst, most debilitating part of my week. I have reached a point in my life where I follow all the rules that were taught to me in health class in high school as a meager attempt to lessen the pain of my hangover the morning after a rager. I make sure to eat before I drink, when I used to purposely avoid eating before I drank so I’d feel the effects of my liquid elixir sooner. I try to chug a cup of water every time I go up to the bar, when I used to think that imbibing anything besides alcohol was a waste of my time. I literally drink less, not to be responsible in the moment, but because I don’t want my hangover to get in the way of my drinking the next day. It’s awful.
Thanks to some scientists over in China (of course it’s fucking China) who recently researched hangovers, we learn that hangovers are not caused by alcohol itself, but by the way the body breaks it down.
When we drink, our livers release an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), which breaks down the ethanol in alcohol into a chemical called acetaldehyde (so less the alcohol enters the bloodstream).
This is then broken down into another chemical called acetate by an enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).
While acetate is usually considered harmless – and has been linked with some of the health benefits of alcohol – being exposed to the more potent acetaldehyde is what causes hangover symptoms, the researchers found.
So, beverages that slow the ALDH process cause alcohol to be broken down more slowly, lengthening our hangovers, and beverages that hasten the ALDH process cause alcohol to be broken down more rapidly, shortening our hangovers.
After experimenting with 57 different beverages, the researchers discovered which drinks were helpful, and which were hurtful to our hangovers. Herbal teas (especially those containing hemp) were found to prolong hangovers more than other beverages, but the drink we’ll begin flocking to, for a post-bender pick-me-up is not coffee, not Diet Coke, not even Gatorade, but SPRITE. Now, you have a reason to drink it.
This may not be a huge deal to you now, and that’s because you have more of the ALDH enzyme in your youth, so you process hangovers more quickly now than you will as you age, but this will be supremely useful information in a few years. Trust.
Another fun fact: the headaches associated with hangovers are caused by our brains swelling and crushing up against our skulls (which is EXACTLY what it feels like), but as we age, our brains shrink, which is why our hangovers hit the pique of their awfulness when we’re 29, which is good news, I guess, as long as you’re not 29.
The only question that remains, is whether or not Sprite Zero is as effective, because I’ll take physical pain over extra calories
any day on some days.
[via Daily Mail]