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William Leigh
01 January 2012 17:10 | By William Leigh, contributor, MSN Him

Eat to beat your hangover

Eat to beat your hangover (© Digital Vision-Digital Vision-Getty Images)

The fabled hangover cure: surrounded by a whirlwind of old wives' tales, tall stories, theories developed by your mate that once did the trick, your dad's cure-all, your uncle's tried-and-tested solution...we've heard them all. But are any of them worth their salt?

Alcohol is essentially a poison; excessive consumption is you poisoning yourself and loading your body up with toxins.

Let's take a moment to think about what a hangover actually consists of. If you've got one now, I'd probably come back and read this a bit later when you're feeling a bit less...tired (as my granny used to say).

You've got feelings of nausea, a headache, probably a dodgy tummy, a chronic thirst and you probably need a hug. The way you smell, people won't be hugging you for a good few hours.

So...how can you fix your hangover? Let's check out some tried-and-tested methods that a few people swear by.

Coffee plus egg on toast

Tom Bowles, photographer, musician and all-round, erm, raconteur goes with a cup of coffee and scrambled egg on toast. "It's easy," he says, "I've always got it in the house and it seems to do the trick". Perhaps a kill or cure then. "I know I'm going to get through [the hangover] if I can keep it down".

Scrambled eggs on toast (© Dave King-Dorling Kindersley-Getty Images)

The cysteine found in eggs breaks down acetaldehyde, essential for curing your hangover

There is some logic in what he's doing - although he might not know it. Eggs are high in cysteine, which helps break down acetaldehyde - to you and me that's helping to get rid of one of the causes of a hangover.

Coffee, however, which most of us reach for, is a killer - it's a short-term fix giving you a caffeine buzz but it's also a diuretic which means it causes you to purge liquid from your body faster - not ideal with the hangover from hell.

On MSN Him: Coffee addict? Are you suffering from a modern addiction?

Boost your energy levels

To beat your hangover, you'll want to boost your energy levels primarily while getting your insides back on track.

Reach for some honey immediately. It will provide your body with the sodium, potassium and fructose that it needs - slap it on some (gulp) wholewheat toast for a healthy pick-me-up. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon to your toast too - research has shown that this sporty spice can help balance out the glucose spikes associated with excessive alcohol consumption.

Cabbages (© AP Photo-Dean Fosdick)

The folic acid found in cabbages is vital for energy production and will help you overcome a hangover

Cabbage isn't the first thing you might pick up when you're hungover but it can help you return to the land of the living. Cabbage is a rich source of folic acid, which is vital for energy production and plays a role in the manufacture of red blood cells, which are required to ship oxygen around your body.

Weirdly - and more by chance than anything else - cabbage forms part of my hangover fix. Which is probably quite bizarre but hey - it's worked for me on the occasions I've woken up with a sore head the morning after the night before.

Try this. Make a bowl of Asian-style noodle soup - a clear, flavoursome broth packed with easy-to-digest carbs in the form of rice noodles, finely shredded cabbage for some crunch and folic acid, chillies for an energy-boosting endorphin pick-me-up and some shredded chicken for a much-needed protein buzz.

There's an additional bonus of using soup as a hangover cure. It's a liquid and will also help to rehydrate your tired old body. Go easy on the chillies if your stomach is a bit tender - add some ginger instead.

On MSN Him: how to eat for all-day energy

Resist temptation: avoid the fry-up?

We all know the truth about the fry-up - when we're hungover we all crave one even though we know it's actually going to make us feel a whole lot worse.

Hungover man unable to face a fried breakfast (© Image Source-Image Source-Getty Images)

Resist the temptation to eat a fried breakfast the morning after the night before

That's because a fry-up is full of saturated fats with plenty of bits and bobs that are hard to digest. You're wolfing down food guaranteed to slow you down. It might taste pretty good at the time, it's definitely one to avoid. Sorry folks.

On MSN Him: Britain's best breakfasts

Hair of the dog?

According to some scientists, the age-old hair of the dog theory is arguably one of the most valid of hangover cures.

The theory is that a hangover is essentially the body's withdrawal from alcohol and having a single drink can satiate it alongside working as a sedative and mild anaesthetic. Of course, the danger with this is excessive consumption of alcohol - make sure you steer clear of this would-be cure.

On MSN Him: 10 drinking myths debunked

An expert's take

We asked GP Joanna Moore for an expert take on hangovers. She obliged, and then revealed her hangover cure of choice.

"Alcohol is a diuretic and so causes large volumes of fluid loss as well as the loss of important electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. It also induces hypoglycaemia which will leave you feeling weak and shaky. Because of this your priority the morning after a large alcohol binge is to rehydrate, replace the lost salts and steadily bring your blood sugar up."

Bacon sandwich (© Andrew Olney-Digital Vision-Getty Images)

According to GP Joanna Moore, a bacon sandwich - along with plenty of water - is the ideal hangover cure

Joanna's cure will bring a smile to your face: "Ideally you should drink as much water as you can tolerate and eat something salty that will release energy slowly (a bacon sandwich on brown bread is perfect). Try to avoid fatty food as this will upset an already irritated stomach lining. Remember too that the 'morning after' alcohol withdrawal symptoms create a state of anxiety (alcohol is an anxiolytic) and so eat something that will make you feel happy!"

On Bing: how to make the ultimate bacon sandwich

Alternative options

Keith Floyd, the now-deceased celebrity chef famously fond of a tipple or two, wrote a book dedicated to hangover cures - from the weird to the wonderful. He swore by salt cod poached in milk whisked and served on toast.

In Russia you might be served a glass of pickle juice - although this might be too much of a reminder of the night before. Ancient Romans used to tuck into deep-fried canaries. Don't ask!

Given these alternative options, it's reassuring that the tried and tested old favourite, a simple bacon sandwich, is the preferred hangover cure recommended by a GP. Forget the urban myths, complex recipes and historical cures, for now we'll be going with Joanna's suggestion: bacon sandwich, brown toast, red sauce.

What do you eat to fix your hangover?

Always drink alcohol in moderation. For the full facts, visit the drinkaware website.

On MSN Life and Style: Top 10 detox foods

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