The cause of a hangover is largely due to the extra ingredients — like sugar and other preservatives How To Gracefully Exit a Conversation
The cause of a hangover is largely due to the extra ingredients — like sugar and other preservatives How To Gracefully Exit a Conversation

The worst type of booze for a hangover

YOU are familiar with the feeling, especially at this time of year.

The throbbing head, the dry mouth and the persistent nausea that no amount of carb-loading will take away.

With the longer days and balmy nights calling for afternoon drinks almost every day of the week, a quick frosé or two probably won't end there during the silly season - even if it is a Tuesday.

But if you want to avoid the dreaded hangover the following day, it may be well worth your while to know that it's not necessarily how much you drink, but rather what you're throwing back that's causing the pain.

All types of alcohol are variations of the chemical ethanol, and the liver and brain break this down the same way.

There’s evidence to say that darker-coloured drinks are more likely to cause hangovers
There’s evidence to say that darker-coloured drinks are more likely to cause hangovers

But the cause of a hangover is largely due to the extra ingredients, like sugar and other preservatives.

"There's evidence to say that darker-coloured drinks (red wine, bourbon) are more likely to cause hangovers," nutritionist Kristen Beck told news.com.au.

"This is thought to be due to the higher concentration of congeners, which are by-products of the fermentation process.

"Sticking to clear spirits or white wine may be beneficial to reduce hangovers.

"Mixing drinks has also been shown to be more problematic in causing hangovers - most likely due to the different mixtures of these congeners."

Does champagne get the all-clear? Picture: iStock
Does champagne get the all-clear? Picture: iStock

"When we digest alcohol, the body has to convert it to acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde can be a burden in the system and cause unpleasant symptoms," holistic nutritionist Yoko Inoue told news.com.au.

"Vodka has the least 'hangover-causing' toxins in them, especially congeners compared to other dark liquors like scotch and whisky," said the founder of Melbourne superfood cafe Shoku Iku. "So when selecting a drink, choose cleaner options and space out drinks with extra glasses of water."

When it comes to the throbbing head, dehydration is largely to blame. For those who are feeling a little nauseous after a big night out, too much alcohol plays with your stomach lining and causes your gut to produce too much gastric acid, among other things.

But according to Ms Inoue, drinks that are higher in congeners (such as red wine, brandy and whisky) tend to make a hangover even worse because they can disrupt your pH levels.

"Preservatives in wine called sulfites and congeners in spirit are chemical compounds you need to watch out for," Ms Inoue said.

"Common congeners include amines, amides, acetones, polyphenols and histamine."

Think clear when reaching for your next drink this silly season. Picture: iStock
Think clear when reaching for your next drink this silly season. Picture: iStock

Congeners stem from the ageing process wine, whisky and brandy all go through, but can also be used as colour or flavour enhancers that are added to spirits.

One congener which may stand out as being a little worse than others is methanol. Just like ethanol, only more poisonous, there is often too much of it in brandy, port and even some wines.

"It just washes round in your body until it is eventually converted to formaldehyde and formic acid which are neurotoxins," Professor Roger Corder, author of The Wine Diet, told The Guardian.

"These will make you feel poorly. Methanol is deemed safe if below 200mg a litre. But sometimes it's over that level."

But what about champagne?

The problem with bubbles is how it is often drunk quickly, and usually on an empty stomach.

Bubbles are often connected to hangovers because of the carbon dioxide that is pumped into the bottle to cause the fizz.

This causes the alcohol to be quickly absorbed into the blood stream, faster than other drinks.

"You get a faster rate of absorption, higher blood alcohol levels - and brain levels - if you drink champagne as opposed to something non-carbonated," University of Colorado pharmacology professor Boris Tabakoff said.

"Around two-thirds of people get drunker faster when they drink champagne, or other carbonated drinks like prosecco or cava."

Make sure you drink plenty of water during festivities
Make sure you drink plenty of water during festivities

But while it pays to keep your drinks in check, there are also cheats you can try before the night out to avoid the hangover.

"Foods like broccoli, kale, lemon, turmeric and beetroot are great for your liver," Ms Inoue said.

"Also, herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion, chanca piedra, burdock and schisandra berries should be included in your diet to assist with the liver function."

Vodka, lime and soda anyone?



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