Anyone who’s ever been much of a drinker knows how painful hangovers can be — and they’ve probably come up with their own theory about the best way to dodge them while still enjoying the simple, warming pleasures of a few adult beverages.
If you ask your friends what they do to avoid the dreaded hangover, you’ll find that people swear by all kinds of different folk remedies, with an almost religious intensity. Never drink on an empty stomach. Take two aspirin before going to bed. Quaff lots of water while you’re out on the town. One of our college friends contended that eating a plate of french fries covered with gravy was a sure cure, and another insisted on going out for chili dogs. And then there are the assorted “next-day” remedies, ranging from munching dry Excedrin (to maximize its impact), to guzzling an entire pot of coffee (to allow caffeine to counter the lingering alcohol effects), to downing a large breakfast of pancakes (to soak up the remaining alcohol in your system), to sampling the “hair of the dog that bit you” (to start working on tomorrow’s hangover, today). I’m a big believer in drinking lots of water, myself, and I am convinced that if you wake up with a hangover it’s too late to do much about it other than ride it out and swear you’ll never be so stupid again.
Now scientists have weighed in. A study conducted by researchers from Canada and the Netherlands looked at 826 students (a perfect control group for hangover analysis if there ever was one) and examined their food and water intake, their alcohol consumption, and their resulting hangovers. The study concluded that neither food nor water consumption had any impact on the severity of the throbbing next-day headaches and the listless, befuddled feeling that inevitably accompanies them — although those that drink lots of water feel better than those that don’t. (Told ya!)
Instead, the study concluded, the only surefire way to avoid a brain-crushing hangover is simply to consume less alcohol.
What? Drink less? That’s no fun! You know, pancakes sound pretty good right now.