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Four Common Myths About Hangovers

Common Hangover Myths

Hangovers have existed since alcohol existed. And there is evidence of alcohol existing as early as 2,000B.C. Genesis 9:20 of the Old Testament describes Noah planting a vineyard on Mt. Ararat (What is now Eastern Turkey).

This means people have been trying to cure and prevent hangover's for over 4,000 years. During the majority of this time, medicine and science was primitive, and what worked vs. what didn't was passed on by word of mouth. By the time the internet exploded, countless "hangover cures" were being promoted with very little scientific evidence as back up.

The result is an overabundance of information on how to cure and prevent hangovers, with varying degrees of accuracy. Half-truths and myths have taken hold, making it very difficult to find accurate information. In this article we take on some of the most common misconceptions about what causes hangovers and how to prevent them.

1) Dehydration is the Main Cause of Hangovers

Dehydration is absolutely a contributing factor in hangovers, but is far from the main cause.

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it promotes the production of urine. On average for each gram of alcohol consumed, urine excretion increases by 10ml. One 12oz beer or 1.5 oz shot contains 10 grams of alcohol and equals approximately 100ml of extra urine excretion.

Let’s make these statistics easier to visualize. A single 12oz beer or 1.5oz shot causes you to create an additional 3.3oz (ounces) of urine. This means for every 3.5 beers you consume you will produce a single additional beer's worth of urine.

As an example, let's say you drink 10 alcoholic beverages in a night, which will result in an additional 1000ml (1 L) of urine production. This means the additional dehydration caused by 10 shots or beers could be completely recuperated by drinking just two average sized (16.9 oz, 500ml) bottled waters before bed.

So the real question is, would having two less bottles of water dehydrate you? Do you think if you went one day consuming two bottles of water less than you usually do you would wake up the next morning with a de-habilitating hangover? No. Would you be mildly dehydrated? Probably.

How many symptoms do hangovers and dehydration even have in common?

Hangover Dehydration Symptoms

Hangovers and Dehydration only share 2 symptoms! And dehydration is not the main cause of severe headaches cause by hangovers, only a contributing cause.

Have you ever had a hangover so bad you spent the morning over a toilet vomiting? Or you felt sick to the point you couldn't touch food all day? These symptoms have nothing to do with dehydration. Nausea and vomiting is actually caused by a toxic byproduct of alcohol metabolism called acetaldehyde.

Have you ever had a hangover so bad daylight blinded you and stringing coherent thoughts together was nearly impossible? These symptoms have nothing to do with dehydration. Mild-alcohol withdrawal caused by GABA-overstimulation is the culprit this time.

If you are still terribly worried dehydration is the main cause of hangovers, drink a some water before bed. But as countless drinkers can attest, it won't come close to eliminating them.

2) Drinking a little bit of alcohol the next morning will cure a hangover.

Drinking alcohol in the morning will temporarily cure your hangover, but when it comes back, it will come back worse.

Hangovers set in as your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) begins to fall, and peaks symptoms strike when your BAC reaches 0. Having a stiff drink in the morning will boost your BAC and temporarily relieve hangover symptoms. But as soon as you stop drinking, and your BAC begins to fall again, your hangover will return worse than before.

Don't be fooled, drinking in the morning won't cure your hangover, it will only postpone it.

3) Eating a large meal before bed will absorb alcohol and prevent a hangover

Eating food after you have consumed alcohol will do absolutely nothing to prevent hangovers.

Once the alcohol is in your stomach it quickly passes to your intestines. Eating food after alcohol has passed into your intestines won't make any difference. If you think eating a meal before bed will help your hangover you are mistaken.

However, eating a large meal, especially a fatty one, before you begin to drink WILL help with prevent hangovers. Having food in your stomach BEFORE you drink, slows your body's absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. You get less drunk on a full stomach when compared to an empty one even if you consume the same amount of alcohol.

Research shows having food in your stomach before the consumption of alcohol lowers peak BAC levels and feelings of intoxication.

It's always good practice to have a meal before a night of heavy drinking. Drinking on an empty stomach can cause you to get drunk more quickly than expected, and lead to more severe hangovers. However, if you drink enough to get drunk, it won't matter if you had a full meal, you will still wake-up hungover. In other words, it will take more alcohol to cause a hangover on a full stomach, but if you drink enough, you will get one.

4) Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, in the clear.

There is absolutely zero truth in this myth. Alcohol is alcohol. Different types of alcohol don't react in your stomach. It doesn't matter how you consume it.

The only thing that matters is the amount of alcohol you consume. That being said, it is much easier to drink "too much" liquor, than it is to drink "too much" beer. Especially when you're drunk and your inhibitions are lowered.

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