Can hangovers be prevented?

The only sure way to avoid a hangover is to avoid drinking alcohol. However, there are ways that you can reduce the risk of getting a hangover if you do drink.

Before You Drink:
  • Don't drink on an empty stomach.
  • Eat starchy foods to slow alcohol absorption.
While You Drink:
  • Limit alcohol intake to less than 1 drink per hour.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with nonalcoholic beverages. Alcohol dehydrates the body, so water is the best choice of beverage.
  • Choose noncarbonated mixers -- carbonation can speed alcohol absorption.
  • Avoid sweet drinks (and sugary foods) while you drink -- the sweet taste may make it difficult to judge how much alcohol you're drinking.
  • Choose drinks with low levels of congeners -- additives found in alcohol that increase your risk of a hangover. As a general rule, dark-colored drinks (such as red wine, bourbon, and rum) have higher levels of congeners than do light-colored drinks (such as white wine, gin, and vodka).
After You Drink:
  • Drink water before you go to bed.
  • Get plenty of rest.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
There's only one surefire way to prevent a hangover, and you know what it is. Don't over-imbibe. That won't just help you avoid waking with pounding head eleven hours from now; it may help you avoid driving into a tree fifteen hours from now-well after your designated driver delivered you to your bed safe and sound.

While one to two drinks a day have been shown many health benefits (including cardiovascular and longevity benefits), upping that amount can be a risky for more than the obvious reasons of decreased mental and physical abilities that come with excessive drinking; it's also because the day-after hangovers are linked to memory impairment and decreased visual-spatial skills-making you more prone to accidents even the day after vodkafest.

When over-imbibing is all but inevitable on some chance occasion, however, you can take a few steps during the festivities that might make the next morning a little smoother and safer for you (or the maid of honor).
  • Choose light alcohol over dark alcohol. Darker drinks contain substances called congeners. They're what give flavor, color, and aroma to alcohol, but there's also a higher association with hangover headaches in drinks with congeners than in drinks without them. In short, vodka and gin trump whiskey, bourbon, and red wine.
  • Eat foods with healthy fat such as avocados or walnuts while you drink. That will help slow or delay the absorption of alcohol. Same goes for honey and tomato juice, which are both rich in fructose, allowing your body to metabolize alcohol more effectively.
Ellen Whitehurst
Health Education
Hangovers can definitely be prevented by not over indulging alcohol in the first place. Angelica root or angelica leaves, both available at most health food stores, contain glutamine, an amino acid that's an alternative remedy believed to inhibit the urge for alchohol. But, if you don't take that angelic root and do decide to drink than be sure to eat some cabbage before heading out to spend some on your favorite libation. Even the Greek philosopher Aristotle knew the hangover prevention remedy of eating cabbage, especially if dipped in vinegar, before pouring a glass of home grown hemlock. He advised that we should "Dine well on cabbage" before heading out for a high time on the old, old, old towne. It's also believed that one of Oz's favorite foods can also help prevent a hangover. Studies have shown that eating ten raw almonds on an emtpy stomach before imbibing alcohol will keep you from acting all nuts once you do drink. Finally, drinking twice the volume of water for every alcoholic beverage you enjoy will help avoid dehydration, one of the main causes of the dreaded hangover. With or without Bradley Cooper.

Not drinking at all is the only way to avoid getting a hangover, but you can reduce your chances of developing one by drinking in moderation. Alternating your alcoholic drinks with a glass of water over the course of the evening will keep you hydrated and help you drink less alcohol. Other hangover prevention tips include eating food while you drink and sticking to one type of alcoholic beverage for the entire period of consumption. You can also try to drink alcohol with fewer congeners, but keep in mind that any alcoholic drink can give you a hangover.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.