Most people know that alcohol is not healthy for your head.

On the other hand, there are very few who consistently pass up an occasional drink.

Even those who hardly drink any alcohol go a bit further than their limit once or twice a year. The morning-after usually starts with a nasty hangover.

The symptoms of a hangover - nausea, dizziness, headaches and exhaustion - are based on a lack of fluids as the decomposition product of alcohol stimulates the release of water through the kidneys.

"When you lose water, the body loses electrolytes," says Isabelle Keller from the German Nutrition Society.

Those are minerals such as potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium - the lack of which goes straight to the head.

Some people swear that a full stomach can ease the intoxication.

"The best thing is something high-fat which fills the stomach and delays the alcohol absorption," says Keller.

When the stomach is empty, beer, wine and spirits head directly to the small intestine where the body absorbs alcohol without delay.

But there is no food that can entirely stop alcohol from being absorbed, says nutritionist Ina Bergheim of the University of Hoheheim in Germany. High-fat foods can only help someone not get drunk as quickly.

The most important tip in preventing hangovers, according to experts, is still drinking enough water.

"And don't just quench your thirst with alcoholic drinks," urges Keller. Parties usually last more than one or two hours, and guests should always mix in some non-alcoholic drinks.

There are plenty of sayings about beer after liquor or before wine. It's all nonsense.

"The order of the drinks doesn't matter in how bad the headache is," says Bergheim. "Certain people just can't take certain alcohols."

But which types of alcohol do have an impact on the level of intoxication?

"Grog, mulled wine, liquor, sparkling wine or other alcoholic beverages with carbonation or a lot of sugar can result quickly in stomach aches or nausea," says Urte Brink, a dietician and member of a home economics and nutrition association in Germany. These drinks stimulate the circulation of the stomach lining and make the alcohol enter the bloodstream quicker.

Crucial in all this is the amount of alcohol and the speed with which it's consumed.

"Three beers in one hour or in three hours makes a big difference," says Keller. Another factor is habits. The weight and sex of the individuals also play a role as women break down alcohol slower than men.

If the party is just too great and you can't avoid the hangover, there are always recipes to get rid of it more quickly the day after.

"After the party, you should balance out the deficits in fluids and electrolytes as quickly as possible," recommends Keller. That means drinking a lot of water.

And the hung-over individual can also eat hearty foods the next day. Keller says the meal should make up for the missing salt, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Something like a little fruit, milk, bread, a juice or a cold vegetable broth.

Bergheim says it's not a good idea to take any extra medication.

"Some compounds affect the liver, which is already under attack."

Keller adds that it makes sense to take it easy the day after the party and, if possible, to delay important appointments.

"Some people can clear their head with a walk while others stay in bed the whole day. You should do what's good for you."

The West Australian

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