If you're going to be knocking back some drinks this New Year's Eve, science will likely be the furthest thing from your mind. But the buzz you'll be seeking is the result of pure chemistry -- as is the way you'll feel the next morning if you overindulge. So, who better than the American Chemical Society to help you ward off the buzz Bizarro we all know as a hangover?
The group released a new installment in its "Reactions" video series on Tuesday called "How To Stop Hangovers." While that title grossly overpromises, the video does have some tips that could help you avoid starting the year feeling like the previous one just ran you over.
For example, alcohol is broken down by a liver enzyme known as ADH and metabolized into a toxin known as acetaldehyde. Because some research suggests high levels of acetaldehyde can lead to cognitive impairment, memory loss and tiredness, among other issues, you should eat some eggs the morning after a blowout. Eggs contain an abundance of an amino acid called L-cysteine, which helps the body break down acetaldehyde and could subsequently help lessen some hangover symptoms.
Other tips in the video aren't exactly revelatory. You should drink lots of water, stop drinking about an hour and a half before sleeping and eat a heavy meal before you indulge. But the video describes why these are effective strategies from a biochemical perspective, so they're certainly worth trying out. Not only will the video help you know more about how booze affects your body, you might just be the hit of the party sharing your new science knowledge at the bar.
One tip the video leaves out, which might just help you feel a little less hungover after a big night, comes from research conducted in 2008 in which congeners were determined to be a contributing factor to hangover severity. Congeners are trace chemicals produced during the fermentation process that
flavor and color drinks. Because beer and clear liquors like vodka contain fewer congeners than darker spirits like bourbon, the thinking is that sticking with drinks with lower congener levels can help make a hangover less brutal.
And while at least one researcher is working on pills that might let us enjoy a buzz without the blech the next morning, and another says pear juice might help mitigate hangovers, so far the only scientifically proven way to avoid a hangover comes from a recent study saying that the key is drinking in moderation. As if we needed science to tell us that.