Why a cup of coffee won’t cure a hangover

When you’re hungover, the last thing you probably want to do is start your day.

And for many of us, coffee in the morning is our go-to, but if you’re trying to recover from a night of drinking, you may want to stay away from caffeine, said registered dietitian Anar Allidina.

“Even though caffeine and alcohol are both metabolized in the liver, your blood alcohol concentration won’t be reversed or altered by caffeine,” she told Global News.

“Mixing alcohol and caffeine is a dangerous idea since caffeine can make you feel less tired. … You may be inclined to consume more alcohol.”

And caffeine isn’t a hangover preventative, either.

“Consuming caffeine might make you feel less sleepy when drinking alcohol, but it will not sober you up or decrease the effects of a hangover.”

Caffeine and alcohol

In September, Health Canada issued a warning on the dangers of mixing caffeine and alcohol. Spokesperson Rebecca Purdy said in a statement people get carried away when they mix the two.

“The caffeine might mask the drowsiness associated with the alcohol intake, this might increase the potential for over-consumption that can lead to alcohol poisoning, dehydration, as well as alcohol-related injury or death,” she said in September.

Allidina said mixing alcohol and energy drinks (which is full of caffeine) isn’t a good idea either.

“Energy drinks typically contain caffeine, plant-based stimulants, simple sugars, and other additives,” she said.

“Mixing alcohol and energy drinks increases your intake of sugar, calories and caffeine than drinking alcohol by itself. Energy drinks, just like coffee, can mask the effects of alcohol, which can lead to more drinking.”

So how do you tackle a hangover?

Allidina said if you wake up with a terrible hangover or headache, try one of these methods instead:

Drink up, water that is: Before you even consider curing that hangover, don’t let it happen in the first place. “To prevent hangovers have a glass of water for every drink you have. Alcohol is dehydrating so making sure your fluid intake is sufficient will ease the headache the next day.”

Sleep it off: There is no magic cure when it comes hangovers, but Allidina said taking time to rest is super useful.

Eat eggs: There’s a reason people turn to a greasy breakfast when they are hungover. “Eggs contain the amino acid taurine, which has been shown to reverse liver damage caused by a night of heavy drinking. Scramble them up with lots of veggies for added antioxidant power and fibre.”

Hydrate other ways: When we are dehydrated, we end up losing both water and electrolytes from our bodies. “Coconut water is filled with electrolytes (magnesium, potassium) and vitamins, which were lost during the previous night of drinking,” she said.

“Skip the Gatorade and energy drinks since they have sugar and sodium. Load up on fresh fruit like bananas, which are rich in potassium.”

Exercise: While you probably don’t want to be at a gym after a night of booze, Allidina said it can help relieve symptoms.

“Breaking a sweat can help you feel better, boost your mood and can speed up the detox process. Don’t do anything too intense — a brisk walk or jog outdoors or some interval training can help make your hangover more manageable.”

— With files from Robyn Crawford

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