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Or, why you're wearing sunglasses at work this Friday
We rarely regret splitting a bottle of red on a Thursday night, but come Friday morning let's just say some of us are seriously on the struggle bus. And why? Going beyond the obvious, The Sci Show breaks down the biology behind a hangover.
The first step? Dehydration. Thanks to alcohol being a diuretic, your body doesn't absorb as much water as you drink, so it starts to steal water from your brain; ouch.
Then, you lose sodium, potassium, and magnesium, plus build up on acetaldehyde, plus ingest plenty of toxins that will end up giving your liver some trouble.
Of course, watch below for the full explanation, and while host Hank says that nothing except time really works to cure a hangover, we still swear by a slice of pizza before liquor and a bagel and coffee in the morning. Healthier folks might tout coconut water and bananas, but we just want all the grease, carbs, and caffeine in the world.
The science of the midlife hangover… and how to deal with it
On April 12, with snow still falling in many parts of the country, pub gardens reopened and the nation’s drinkers took full advantage, with sales of alcohol in pubs, bars and restaurants leaping by 113.8 per cent compared with the same day in 2019. Soon, on May 17, drinkers will be able to venture inside pubs, too, and that can only mean one thing – the return of the hangover.
A new study, conducted by academics from Utrecht University’s Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Netherlands, has found that the severity of hangovers, as well as the frequency, actually declines with age, with research showing that those in the 18-25 age group experienced, on average, 2.2 hangovers per month, while those in the 56-65 bracket had just 0.3, falling to a mere 0.1 by the time they reached the age of 66.
The issue, of course, is what to do when you are in the sweaty hell of your 0.3 of a hangover and all of the attendant unpleasantness that accompanies it: nausea, irritability, dehydration, headaches, vomiting – it makes you wonder why we bother drinking in the first place.
“Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in the world but we still don’t really understand all the effects it has,” says neurologist Dr John Janssen. “What makes it interesting, however, is that relative to other drugs, the dose we tend to consume is simply enormous.”
And that can take its toll, especially on the ageing brain. “The brain is much like the skin,” adds Janssen. “A baby’s skin is soft and perfect but as it ages it becomes a bit tougher, and then, as you get older, it becomes wrinkly and less elastic and slower to heal. It’s the same with the brain, which becomes less efficient with age, with less reliable connections and slower performance. Not surprisingly, alcohol will only serve to make that performance even worse.”
As with any other drugs acting on the brain, alcohol’s effects, in terms of hangovers, can vary hugely. Some drinkers will deal it with by simply lying in bed and sleeping it off, while the less fortunate will present the full gamut of symptoms. Dr Sally Adams, assistant professor in health psychology at the University of Bath and a specialist in the psychopharmacology of alcohol, believes that our expectations can also influence our experience of a hangover. “If we expect to feel terrible,” she says, “we may spend the day on the sofa, feeling sorry for ourselves.”
That said, Adams also believes the single most important factor in determining how a person feels the day after drinking, especially in terms of mood and cognition, is the amount of alcohol they have consumed – nothing more, nothing less.
“During hangover, we produce a toxic substance – acetaldehyde – created when our body is metabolising alcohol,” she adds. “Not only is this responsible for the vomiting, nausea and heart-racing during your hangover, it can also interact with neurotransmitters in the brain pathways involved in mood and cognition. So if age influences metabolism of alcohol, then we might expect poorer cognition in older drinkers during hangovers.”
Acetaldehyde is the villain of the piece when it comes to hangovers, a byproduct of your liver oxidising the alcohol in your system. The bad news is that acetaldehyde is carcinogenic and can cause tissue and cell damage, too. The good news, however, is that it doesn’t really stick around in the body for that long, its exit being aided by acetate – which is toxic, too.
If you are finding that the day after the night before is getting more unbearable as you get older, don’t be surprised. By the time you hit middle age, you are in a markedly different place – physically, mentally and even professionally – than you were in the drink-till-dawn days of your twenties. For one, you are more likely to have a higher percentage of body fat than you did when you were younger and, as fat can’t absorb alcohol, your tolerance to it will decrease. You are also going to have less water in your body, increasing the chance of dehydration and allowing the alcohol to stay in your system for longer, wreaking its havoc.
Sleep also plays a major part, as Janssen explains. “Sleep issues are commonplace among the middle-aged,” he says. “We tend to drink socially at the end of the day, and if you then go to bed and you’re already experiencing disturbed sleep patterns, alcohol disrupts it still further. Inevitably, it’s going to have an impact the following day.”
It’s not just the physical manifestation of over-indulgence that gets worse as you hit middle-age. Heavy drinking followed by the inevitable hangover can affect everything from your memory to your attention levels and your co-ordination.
And then there is so-called ‘hangxiety’, that unshakeable fug of gloominess and sometimes dread that takes over your every waking thought. It’s not simply the fear of what you might have done or said as you knocked them back the night before, but those booze-induced worries about everything else that’s going in your life, be that work or relationships, money or your kids.
“In middle age, there are often other issues in play, such as stress at work, with all the pressures and responsibilities that brings, and they can lead to irregular eating and poor sleep,” says Janssen. “Add alcohol to that mix, and it’s easy to see how people in midlife can begin to really suffer the day after drinking.”
You might also be one of the unlucky people who are simply more predisposed to hangovers than others. “It’s thought that the headache component of a hangover is actually migrainous, and it’s often the case that those that do suffer with severe headaches or migraines can also be incredibly sensitive to alcohol, to the point where even a sniff of it can induce one,” adds Janssen.
But prevention is better than cure, and eating is key, as Harley Street nutritionist Lily Soutter explains. “A balanced meal containing all key food groups prior to drinking is essential to slow the release of alcohol into the bloodstream,” she says. “It also helps to protect your stomach lining.”
Your choice of drink can also have an impact. Avoid brown spirits, wine and anything mixed with energy drinks, and opt instead for vodka or gin, with a low-sugar mixer such as soda water and a squeeze of lemon or lime. “Clear spirits also contain lower levels of congeners, which can increase the intensity of any hangover,” says Soutter.
If you do succumb to temptation and awake the following morning (or afternoon) feeling as though you want the world to end, then reach for the water (at least two litres over the course of the day) and, tempting though it may be to go for something fried and greasy, try and have some slow-release carbohydrates such as eggs on wholegrain toast, pasta, rice, or sweet potatoes with their skins on. “A good breakfast to keep blood sugar stable is also important to supply a steady release of glucose to the body and brain,” she says.
The best cure by far, however, is simply not drinking as much the night before. That said, you could always take the advice of the late Lemmy, the legendary carouser from the heavy metal group Motörhead. “To get hangovers,” he once said, “you have to stop drinking.”
Why is my hangover so bad?
E ver woken up on a Sunday morning with the worst hangover ever? The headache was bad enough, but the nausea and lethargy made you feel as if you had been poisoned. Yet, when you had done the same thing two months before, it hadn’t felt this bad, even though you had drunk the same amount of wine and avoided the usual culprits (the spirits, such as brandy and whisky, with their particularly toxic chemicals). What was worse, your friend, who drank even more than you, felt fine. The usual excuse is to blame the after-effects on bad luck, or your genes, but could there be other culprits?
Hangovers occur due to the side-effects of the chemical produced when alcohol is broken down. Alcohol itself is fairly harmless – but enzymes convert it to acetaldehyde, which does the damage. The longer the acetaldehyde hangs around, the worse you and your liver feel. Other enzymes help to clear the acetaldehyde away, but the rates at which both happen are extremely variable in different people.
Many east Asian people carry a mutation in a gene that increases the speed at which acetaldehyde is formed. This means that, compared with Caucasians, they suffer more side-effects from boozing, such as flushing and nausea. There are also more subtle gene variants that alter how much acetaldehyde an individual can produce and how fast they can eliminate it.
A study of more than 4,000 twins in Australia has shown that susceptibility to hangovers has a major genetic component. Other twins studies have shown that liking or disliking the taste of alcohol, the amount of drinking, and alcohol addiction are strongly heritable traits. So clearly the genes that control these enzymes are important – but they are not the whole story.
Last year, a US study explored for the first time what binge drinking did to our microbes. Twenty-five healthy volunteers who were not regular drinkers were given a wine glass of vodka. There was a wide variety in response: those with the worst symptoms and changes in blood tests had the highest levels of toxins coming from the cell walls of their gut microbes. These toxins (called LPS) had somehow leaked out of their intestines, as a result of the inflammation the alcohol had produced. Within their guts the alcohol produced a brief, but large increase in the microbe species that were pro-inflammatory, stimulating the immune system as if it were under attack and contributing to the general sick-feeling so typical of hangovers.
Population studies, such as the American gut project, show that low to moderate alcohol intake can actually increase your microbial diversity, which is usually beneficial for your health. One of my own researchers (I’m a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London) diligently experimented on her own microbes by drinking three pints of beer each evening for five days. Her 5,000 or so gut microbes overall did not change, but a few species increased markedly – one relatively unknown one called Erysipelotrichia increased five-fold. When she looked at its possible function from its genes, she found it could produce alcohol dehydrogenase – the enzyme that breaks down alcohol to acetaldehyde. So, as she was drinking her beer and feeling increasingly tired and lethargic, her alcohol-loving microbe species were busy reproducing.
So, drinking too much alcohol actually causes toxins to be released from our microbes, as well as growing more alcohol-loving microbe species. Studies have also shown that when mice are fed these toxins, they seek out more alcohol than normal mice, suggesting that the microbes, via their toxins, could actually be encouraging us to seek out even more alcohol and – worryingly – even lead to addiction.
If our microbes are part of the problem – what happens if we eliminate them? Experiments making mice binge-drink like humans produced signs of liver damage – again because of the toxins, leaky gut and inflammation. When the researchers repeated the experiment in mice lacking microbes, they found no evidence of liver damage. Going back to their normal binge-drinking mice, the scientists tried feeding them a high-fibre diet (enriched with pectin found in apples) as well as alcohol shots, and compared this to a low-fibre diet. The high-fibre-fed mice amazingly had virtually no obvious side-effects from the alcohol on their livers. Similar preventive effects were seen on mice given probiotics containing beneficial microbes such as lactobacillus, found in cheese and yoghurt. Even saturated fat counteracted the harmful effects of the alcohol on microbes.
Although the jury is still out on whether drinking small amounts regularly is beneficial, overdoing alcohol is obviously bad for you. It causes major disruption to your gut microbes directly – and heavy drinkers also tend to have poor diets. Liver damage is now on the increase, particularly in children and young women. As diverse a diet as possible is the best insurance to maximise your range of microbial species and therefore your immune defences.
Now when you wake up feeling unwell after a night out, you can blame your microbes as well as your pushy friends. But the microbes could also be part of the solution. If you are still keen on binge-drinking occasionally, at least start the evening with a slab of smelly cheese or a glass of high-fat natural yoghurt and let your microbes reduce some of the pain and suffering. Perhaps salt-and-microbe crisps could be the drinking partners of the future?
‘Hangxiety’: why alcohol gives you a hangover and anxiety
I f you are looking forward to your first stiff drink after a dry January, be warned: it may feel bittersweet. You may feel you deserve an alcoholic beverage after toughing it out all month – but have you forgotten what it feels like to wake up haunted by worries about what you said or did the night before? These post-drinking feelings of guilt and stress have come to be known colloquially as “hangxiety”. But what causes them?
David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, London, is the scientist who was fired in 2009 as the government’s chief drug adviser for saying alcohol is more dangerous than ecstasy and LSD. I tell him I have always assumed my morning-after mood was a result of my brain having shrivelled like a raisin through alcohol-induced dehydration. When Nutt explains the mechanics of how alcohol causes crippling anxiety, he paints an even more offputting picture.
Alcohol, he says, targets the Gaba (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptor, which sends chemical messages through the brain and central nervous system to inhibit the activity of nerve cells. Put simply, it calms the brain, reducing excitement by making fewer neurons fire. “Alcohol stimulates Gaba, which is why you get relaxed and cheerful when you drink,” explains Nutt.
The first two drinks lull you into a blissful Gaba-induced state of chill. When you get to the third or fourth drink, another brain-slackening effect kicks in: you start blocking glutamate, the main excitatory transmitter in the brain. “More glutamate means more anxiety,” says Nutt. “Less glutamate means less anxiety.” This is why, he says, “when people get very drunk, they’re even less anxious than when they’re a bit drunk” – not only does alcohol reduce the chatter in your brain by stimulating Gaba, but it further reduces your anxiety by blocking glutamate. In your blissed-out state, you will probably feel that this is all good – but you will be wrong.
The body registers this new imbalance in brain chemicals and attempts to put things right. It is a little like when you eat a lot of sweets and your body goes into insulin-producing overdrive to get the blood sugar levels down to normal as soon as the sweets have been digested, all that insulin causes your blood sugar to crash. When you are drunk, your body goes on a mission to bring Gaba levels down to normal and turn glutamate back up. When you stop drinking, therefore, you end up with unnaturally low Gaba function and a spike in glutamate – a situation that leads to anxiety, says Nutt. “It leads to seizures as well, which is why people have fits in withdrawal.”
It can take the brain a day or two to return to the status quo, which is why a hair of the dog is so enticing. “If you drank an awful lot for a long time,” says Nutt, “it might take weeks for the brain to readapt. In alcoholics, we’ve found changes in Gaba for years.”
To add to the misery, the anxiety usually kicks in while you are trying to sleep off the booze. “If you measure sleep when people are drunk, they go off to sleep fast. They go into a deeper sleep than normal, which is why they sometimes wet the bed or have night terrors. Then, after about four hours, the withdrawal kicks in – that’s when you wake up all shaky and jittery.”
Imbalances in Gaba and glutamate are not the only problem. Alcohol also causes a small rise in noradrenaline – known as the fight-or-flight hormone. “Noradrenaline suppresses stress when you first take it, and increases it in withdrawal,” says Nutt. “Severe anxiety can be considered a surge of noradrenaline in the brain.”
Another key cause of hangxiety is being unable to remember the mortifying things you are sure you must have said or done while inebriated – another result of your compromised glutamate levels. “You need glutamate to lay down memories,” says Nutt, “and once you’re on the sixth or seventh drink, the glutamate system is blocked, which is why you can’t remember things.”
If this isn’t ringing any bells, it may be because hangxiety does not affect us all equally, as revealed by a study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. Researchers quizzed healthy young people about their levels of anxiety before, during and the morning after drinking alcohol. According to one of the authors, Celia Morgan, professor of psychopharmacology at the University of Exeter: “The people who were more shy had much higher levels of anxiety [the following day] than the people who weren’t shy.” The team also found a correlation between having bad hangxiety and the chance of having an alcohol use disorder. “Maybe it’s playing a role in keeping problematic drinking going,” says Morgan.
One theory as to why very shy people might be more at risk of hangxiety and alcoholism is the possibility that alcohol’s seesaw effect on Gaba levels is more pronounced in them. Their baseline Gaba levels may be lower to start with, says Morgan. “It could also be a psychological effect – people who are more highly anxious are more prone to rumination, going over thoughts about the night before, so that’s another potential mechanism.”
However, the study’s findings have wider implications – after all, most drinkers lean on alcohol as social lubrication to some degree.
The bad news is that there seems to be little you can do to avoid hangxiety other than to drink less, and perhaps take painkillers – they will at least ease your headache. “Theoretically, ibuprofen would be better than paracetamol,” says Nutt, “because it’s more anti-inflammatory – but we don’t know how much of the hangover is caused by inflammation. It’s something we’re working on, trying to measure that.”
Morgan suggests trying to break the cycle. “Before drinking in a social situation you feel anxious in, try fast-forwarding to the next day when you’ll have much higher anxiety levels. If you can’t ride that out without drinking, the worry is that you will get stuck in this cycle of problematic drinking where your hangxiety is building and building over time. Drinking might fix social anxiety in the short term, but in the long term it might have pretty detrimental consequences.” Exposure therapy is a common treatment for phobias, where you sit with your fear in order to help you overcome it. “By drinking alcohol, people aren’t giving themselves a chance to do that,” says Morgan.
But there might be hope for the future. Nutt is involved in a project to develop a drink that takes the good bits of alcohol and discards the damaging or detrimental effects. “Alcosynth”, as it is currently called, drowns your sorrows in the same way as alcohol, but without knocking the Gaba and glutamate out of kilter. “We’re in the second stage of fundraising to take it through to a product,” he says. “The industry knows [alcohol] is a toxic substance. If it was discovered today, it would be illegal as a foodstuff.”
Until Alcosynth reaches the market, Nutt says his “strong” message is: “Never treat hangxiety with a hair of the dog. When people start drinking in the mornings to get over their hangxiety, then they’re in the cycle of dependence. It’s a very slippery slope.”
5 Signs You Might Be Allergic to Alcohol
After a night of one too many vodka sodas, you might wake up and realize that you and alcohol aren't really the greatest of friends, especially if you get some pretty nasty hangovers. Sure, there are a few hangover cures that might help the next day, but what if the usual stuff (ibuprofen, electrolytes, sleep) isn't doing the trick? Come to think of it, you didn't really drink that much, so why do you feel so awful? Well, you might wanna sit down for this news, but there's a possibility you could be allergic to alcohol. (And, if you're interested, here's how your body reacts to alcohol normally.)
In cases where your body just can't metabolize alcohol properly, it can lead to a slew of unfortunate symptoms, making you really regret that round of tequila shots. Symptoms can be treated with OTC oral antihistamines such as Benadryl, Allegra, or Dimetane, but more severe allergic reactions, such as heart palpitations or wheezing, may require a steroid shot. The scary thing: This and any kind of severe allergic reaction can be life-threatening if not treated, so book it to the ER if your reaction is extreme.
Tips to help prevent that horrible champagne hangover
If you’ve ever thought that a glass of champagne hits you faster than, say, beer, you’re not imagining it. It turns out there’s a reason why a single toast at your friend’s wedding can leave your head spinning.
Boris Tabakoff at the University of Colorado, Boulder, told NPR, “Some of the dizziness you can feel after champagne is due to both the brain getting [a little] less oxygen and also the [effects] of the alcohol at the same time.”
Blame it on the bubbles. All of those bubbles in sparkling wine and champagne are nothing more than carbon dioxide. C02 competes with oxygen in our bloodstream, explains Tabakoff, a researcher on the effects alcohol has on the body.
The science behind it is pretty simple. Carbon dioxide increases the pressure in your stomach, which in turn, forces the alcohol out through the lining of your stomach where it’s absorbed right into your bloodstream — faster than other adult beverages, according to The Naked Scientist.
So if staying on your feet this New Year’s Eve is on the agenda, sip that bubbly slowly. And if avoiding a hangover is important, too, try swapping every other glass of champagne with a glass of water. Alternating beverages can help slow down your consumption and help prevent the dehydration that usually comes with a festive night of drinking.
Tabakoff told NPR that when you first start drinking, a hormone that controls your body’s water balance is kicked off kilter. This anti-diuretic hormone sends you straight to the ladies’ or men’s room. All of body flushing can leave you with a pounding headache come a.m.
But dehydration isn’t the only cause to blame for a wicked hangover. “High levels of alcohol in the brain have fairly recently been shown to cause neuro-inflammation, basically, inflammation in the brain,” Tabakoff said. This is why ibuprofen and aspirin can make us feel a bit better.
Champagne might sound like more trouble than it’s worth, but you’re not off the hook with other alcoholic beverages either. Wine, beer and cocktails — as you know by now — can all cause nasty hangover effects, too. The only way to guarantee no hangover hampers your morning is to skip alcohol entirely. But considering New Year’s Eve is the most popular drinking day of the year, that’s likely not going to happen this holiday.
Prevent that horrible headache
Whatever you drink, just remember to pace yourself, and use one drink per hour as a rule of thumb. “We can get rid of most of the alcohol we drink if we limit drinking to one drink per hour,” Tabakoff said. This can be adjusted slightly for smaller or larger people. And alternate with glasses of water.
Make sure you have a good meal before you start the festivities. “Food is very good for the purpose of slowing absorption of alcohol.” Even liquid calories from sugary drinks like Coke have been found to slow down levels of impairment more than sugar free mixers like Diet Coke.
Remember that one drink is less than you might think — it’s 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or one shot of liquor.
And try to get plenty of sleep. If you’ve been out all night, this might seem like a no-brainer, but only a good night sleep can help your body recover from the fatigue and irritability associated with hangovers.
Don’t wait until the end of the night to polish off a pizza. It might be too late.
"The alcohol is already in your body, so eating food or drinking water won’t affect how it’s absorbed," says Aaron White, PhD, senior advisor to the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
But if you eat a meal and have water while you're throwing back those cocktails, your hangover may not be as bad. "Having food in your stomach while drinking reduces how high your peak blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) gets by about a third," White says.
The less drunk you get, the less crummy you’ll feel the next day. And fluid from water slows the rate at which your body absorbs alcohol. This will also lower your overall BAC.
"It’s a good idea to alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks," White says.
Along with drinking water throughout the night, be sure to down even more before you go to sleep.
"Alcohol is a diuretic," Koob says. This means it makes you pee a lot, which causes you to lose a lot of liquid. "Hangover symptoms are partly due to dehydration, so replacing that fluid loss can help."
It’s also smart to keep a bottle of water by your bedside so you can hydrate as soon as you wake up in the morning.
Red Ginseng Tea
A 2014 Korean study found that consuming a little less than half a cup of a red ginseng beverage (like tea) can fight alcohol-induced fatigue, stomach pain, and thirst more effectively than equal amounts of H20. Red ginseng tea belongs to the botanical family Panax, which translates from Greek to mean "all heal." Sounds promising already, right? The study, which was pubbed in the journal Food & Function, found that participants who sipped on a red ginseng drink saw a significant reduction of plasma alcohol levels and hangover severity (from whiskey—ouch!), in comparison to the placebo group.
The Science Behind Your Hangover
We’ve all been there—you’re sitting on the floor of your living room (or bathroom, bedroom, or kitchen, really) wondering why your head feels like the real-life, physical equivalent of that scene from The Simpsons where Homer gets stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Congratulations, you’re hungover. “It’s horrible and I never want to feel this way again,” you think to yourself as you recount the previous evening in your throbbing, sad excuse for a head.
Here’s the big problem: There’s so much contradictory information out there about what causes hangovers and how to resolve them that the above scenario inevitably happens again.
Enter Adam Rogers, articles editor at Wired and author of Proof: The Science of Booze, which sets out to answer and explain, in plain terms, how booze is made and, yes, the science of your godforsaken hangover.
"I wrote a long feature for Wired about a fungus that seemed to live on fumes from aging whiskey,” says Rogers about the origins of his interest in booze and the beginning of Proof. What he found was that no one had published a modern, general interest book about the science of alcohol distilling: “I found a book that was 100 years old and others that were way too academic.”
He knew immediately that whatever he wrote about hangovers would be a “crowd-pleasing” section of the book. So he dedicated a chapter to the subject and placed it at the end of the book (“I wanted people to feel rewarded when they got to the end [of the book]”).
"If you’re a person who drinks, you’ve probably had one," says Rogers, "and you probably hated it." Let’s get to the bottom of why they happen and what you can do about it, shall we?
Rogers cites three myths that everyone has heard causes hangovers. He says that there is no scientific research to back them up.
1. I Feel Like Death Because Alcohol Made Me Dehydrated - Rogers points out that this seems to be most commonly blamed as a major cause of hangovers. “It’s something you feel so clearly when you’ve got one,” explains Rogers, “that when you wake up you think you’re dehydrated.”
2. Mixing Boozes Will Make You More Hungover - “I always get a kick out of this one,” says Rogers, “mostly because of an Onion article on the subject from a few years back.”
3. Vodka Makes Me Less Hungover Then Other Spirits - “The idea that vodka—which is essentially water and ethanol—will you give you less of a hangover than a spirit like whiskey is completely false.”
Obviously, if you find yourself hungover, you’ve drunk too much.
Scientifically, you’ve ingested more ethanol (the active ingredient in alcohol that both gets you drink and causes your nasty hangover) than your body can process.
Rogers says that one surefire way to help with this is to make sure you have enough to eat before drinking. There’s no real strategy in regards to what you should eat, “you just want volume.” This will slow down the absorption of ethanol through your gut and can help dampen whatever hangover you might develop.
Hangover cures are a major industry at this point, from homeopathic methods to packaged products sold in drug stores. Rogers says that several widely available solutions have been proven to help reduce the uncomfortable side effects of hangovers, which include prickly pear cactus extract and dihydromyricetin.
The bottom line: The only way to truly prevent a hangover is to drink less. But even that point is complicated, since hangovers affect individuals differently. “Why do you get a headache, while I get nausea?” Science has yet to answer that question.
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America's Top Upscale Burger Chain Is Opening 30 New Locations
The buzz around fast-casual brand BurgerFi is nothing new. The upscale burger chain navigated the pandemic like a champ, quickly adding curbside pickup and its first drive-thru, redesigning kitchens for efficiency, and even landing Martha Stewart as a board member. It's no surprise it recently made the prestigious Fast Casual's Top 100 Movers&Shakers list, which recognizes the industry's most successful brands, for the eighth year in a row. In fact, it took the #1 spot thanks to its "continuous innovation and rapid growth."The company, which recently went public, continued its winning streak in 2021. It reported a systemwide sales growth of 19% in the first quarter and announced it would be opening a total of 30 new restaurants by the end of the year. Additionally, the chain will expand its partnerships with Reef and Epic Kitchens by opening 15–20 additional ghost kitchen locations, according to a press release.RELATED: This Once-Popular Sandwich Chain Is on a Steep Decline"We are optimistic about our expansion efforts on the eastern seaboard and internationally, and we anticipate that our growing presence will deliver strong results," said CEO Julio Ramirez of the ambitious expansion plan. BurgerFi currently operates 120 restaurants and has already added 5 new locations since January.But it isn't just its growing national presence that is making the brand so successful. Its momentum was additionally boosted with menu innovations. In March, they launched the SWAG burger, a spicy limited-time burger made with premium Wagyu beef, which scored highly in our own taste test of new burger releases. In April, the chain went all in on nostalgia, putting the beloved Dunkaroos cookies in a milkshake for the first time ever.For more on burgers, check out:The Worst Fast Food Burgers—Ranked!The Most Popular Fast-Food Burgers Right NowThis Popular New Burger Chain Is Being Called Out for Terrible, Raw FoodAnd don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest restaurant news delivered straight to your inbox.
One Major Effect of Eating Blueberries, New Study Says
There are so many reasons to incorporate blueberries into your diet. Not only are they delicious, but they're also healthy for both your heart and brain health. Now, an increasing body of research is looking at how blueberries may even help manage your blood sugar.After you eat a meal or snack, your digestive system breaks carbohydrates down into sugar (glucose), and a hormone called insulin works to regulate the glucose in your blood. "Insulin allows for glucose to enter into cells where it can be utilized for energy," explains Dr. Deena Adimoolam, MD, an endocrinologist, and member of our medical review board.In a healthy person, blood glucose levels usually rise right after eating. Then, insulin starts working and glucose levels typically go back down to normal two hours after eating. Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body isn't able to use insulin properly or can't make enough of it."People with type 2 diabetes struggle with insulin resistance," says Dr. Adimoolam. "What this means is that people with type 2 diabetes make insulin, but their body is resistant to the effects of insulin which leads to high blood glucose levels."A new study published in the journal Nutrients found that eating blueberries may help your body manage blood sugar in a few different ways.In the study, researchers collected participants' blood samples shortly after theyɽ eaten fresh blueberries with a slice of white bread. These participants also ate 150 grams (5.3oz) of blueberries a day for six days and their blood samples were taken on the seventh day, directly after they ate a slice of bread without blueberries. A control group's blood samples were also taken.Just 15 minutes after eating, the participants who ate blueberries with their slice of white bread had lower glucose spikes than the control group. This indicates that eating blueberries can help your body manage glucose levels after you eat simple carbohydrates, like white bread. Researchers think this might be because of specific processes that occur in your digestive tract after you eat blueberries.They also found that those whoɽ eaten blueberries for six days didn't have significant differences in glucose levels from the control group. However, the participants whoɽ eaten blueberries for the previous six days did have lower insulin levels two hours after eating the bread than the control group. These results suggest that eating blueberries daily improves your body's sensitivity to insulin. The study's authors suggest that this is because blueberries have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.It's important to note that the subjects of the study were all sedentary, which means they performed little to no exercise. "Exercise makes your muscles more sensitive to insulin which leads to a possible improvement in blood glucose values," says Dr. Adimoolam.This new research follows a study from last year, which specifically looked at blueberry consumption in men with type 2 diabetes, and found that eating freeze-dried blueberries improved health parameters like their glucose and insulin management, blood pressure, and even cholesterol.Blueberries contain polyphenols, which are micronutrients, and specific polyphenols called anthocyanins, which are speculated to reduce inflammation. "Some believe that there may be a component of inflammation in type 2 diabetes leading to worsening insulin resistance," says Dr. Adimoolam. "Anthocyanins may improve inflammation in type 2 diabetes which could theoretically improve blood glucose values. However, we do not have extensive data to support this finding."If you have type 2 diabetes, there may actually be a downside to eating blueberries, though. While anthocyanins may play some role in helping your body manage blood glucose, "fruits like blueberries have fructose, which also has the opposite effect and raise your blood sugar levels," says Dr. Adimoolam."The best treatment for type 2 diabetes in [the] majority of cases is lifestyle changes (such as diet, exercise, stress reduction, and sleep) and use of medications if needed," explains Dr. Adimoolam.For more, be sure to check out 4 Biggest Food Studies About Diabetes You Should Know.
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Experts Reveal The Real Reason Why You Always Feel Hungover When You Sleep Too Much
Sleep is a beautiful thing, but believe it or not, it's definitely possible to get too much of it. You know the feeling: You lie down in bed after a long day, and maybe you don't really intend to sleep in that much, but by the time you wake up, you realize you've been asleep for 12 hours, and you feel like you just got back from a wild bachelorette party. Your head is throbbing, your brain is foggy, and you're completely out of it. You might not know why you feel hungover when you sleep too much, but you do know the feeling is real, and that it's definitely not worth the extra hours of being wrapped up in your favorite blanket. So why does this happen, and how can you avoid it in the future?
For one thing, according to founder of Insomnia Coach Martin Reed, whether you feel icky or well-rested after a night of sleep, it all comes back to a little thing called your circadian rhythm which, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is basically a clock inside your body that regulates when you feel awake and when you feel sleepy.
When you get too much sleep, or suddenly change your usual sleep routine in some way, Reed explains, you're disrupting that internal clock, and the sudden shift can make you feel super lethargic and tired come daytime. "We use the phrase ‘sleep inertia’ to describe the feeling of grogginess that often occurs when we first wake in the morning," Reed tells Elite Daily over email, adding that the symptoms of sleep inertia can last up to an hour. And even though that groggy feeling isn't exactly pleasant, Reed says it's totally normal to experience this from time to time, even if you have a pretty healthy sleep routine overall.
However, that hungover feeling you get after a long night of sleep might be caused by something a bit more complex. According to sleep science coach and founder of SleepZoo Chris Brantner, you may be waking up in the wrong stage of sleep. "Stages one and two, light sleep, are the easiest to wake up from," he tells Elite Daily over email. "Stages three and four, deep sleep, are the most difficult [to wake up from]." In general, Brantner explains, people need to complete five sleep cycles in one night in order to feel fully refreshed come morning. A full sleep cycle, he says, takes about 90 minutes, and it consists of two stages of light sleep, two stages of deep sleep, and one stage of REM sleep, aka the rapid-eye-movement stage in which you're most likely to start dreaming.
"Getting through five cycles of sleep puts you at about 7.5 hours of sleep, right in the middle of the recommended range," Brantner says. So if you're snoozing much longer than that, he explains, you're essentially increasing the chance that you're going to wake up during one of those deeper sleep stages, which can easily cause that groggy, hungover feeling. Makes sense, right?
To prevent this from happening, Reed says the solution is pretty simple: Stick to a relatively consistent sleep schedule every day of the week, including weekends. Of course, that's easier said than done, and you're only human, so on those days when you do clock in a little too much snooze time, Reed suggests getting out of bed as soon as you're able to and going outside so you can exposure yourself to some natural light, which will help your body's internal clock readjust itself. A short walk around the block is a great way to shake off those groggy vibes because it's a really concrete signal to your body that it's time to wake up and start the day.
Now, while that groggy feeling in the morning may be relatively temporary and easily fixed, it's important to note that, according to Reed, there are legit health risks to sleeping too much on a regular basis. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation says "the risk for diabetes, obesity, headaches, back pain, and heart disease are all higher in people who oversleep." Reed recommends talking to your doctor if you habitually sleep more than nine hours a night (not just on weekends, BTW), especially if all that sleep isn't even helping you feel well-rested.
Rest assured, though, even if you feel all kinds of out of it after a long, indulgent night of sleep, those groggy feels won't last forever. And thank goodness they don't last as long as a real hangover, right?