Happy St. Patrick's Day! If you're planning on going out and downing a few too many adult beverages to celebrate, here are four things you can do to prevent a massive hangover . . .
1. Drink Gatorade or coconut water. It's smart to have a glass of water between drinks so you don't get dehydrated . . . but coconut water or Gatorade is even better. They hydrate you AND replace electrolytes, which are nutrients you lose when you drink.
2. Take vitamins. Hangovers aren't JUST about dehydration. Inflammation and the production of free radicals in your body also make you feel like crap. Antioxidants help with that, so pop a multivitamin, or drink acai or pomegranate juice before going out.
3. Order a burger instead of a salad. The severity of a hangover is directly related to how you metabolize alcohol . . . and THAT depends a lot on what you eat. You want to eat a meal that contains carbs, protein, and fat BEFORE you go out drinking . . . and red meat has an especially high concentration of amino acids and B vitamins that help process the negative byproducts of alcohol.
4. Stick with clear liquor. Vodka and gin have fewer toxins and impurities than dark spirits like whisky and rum.
Unfortunately, all the preparation in the world can't guarantee that you won't get a hangover. So here are four things you definitely SHOULDN'T do if you end up with one . . .
1. Don't take Tylenol. Acetaminophen and alcohol are both processed in the liver. So when you mix the two, your liver is forced to work overtime . . . and toxic byproducts can accumulate. And even a little bit of those byproducts can cause liver damage.
2. Don't drink OJ. It's not dangerous like taking Tylenol is, but the acidity of the citrus juice might not sit well with your stomach and it could make you feel WORSE.
3. Don't have more than one or two cups of coffee. Coffee is a diuretic, so it can dehydrate you even further when you're already dehydrated. And caffeine narrows blood vessels, which increases blood pressure, so if you have a headache, it could make it worse.
4. Don't drink more alcohol. It's true that drinking more the next day when you're hung over CAN make you feel better, simply because alcohol dulls your senses. But it's only temporary relief, and ultimately you're prolonging the agony. Your body eventually has to process all the toxins you spent all night shoving in it, and drinking more just extends the timetable.