Welcome to university for those here for the first time, and welcome back to those who decided not to drop out and join the circus. To those who didn’t leave: get a life and go out and get some sun, you are never going to attract a mate with those pasty white legs.
Welcome to what is going to be a weekly food column. While it may have the occasional recipe, it is emphatically not a cooking column. It will be a look into how, what, where, why (and maybe even who) we eat. But before we get going on food I thought it wise to deal with a subject that most of us are all too familiar with and particularly pertinent this week: the subject of hangovers.
The word ‘hangover’ is used to describe the number of unpleasant physical effects suffered following heavy consumption of alcohol. These effects include (but are not limited to) headaches, nausea, anxiety, lethargy, tiredness and a sensitivity to light and sound. Ethanol (the active ingredient in booze) is a diuretic which in large quantities causes the body to dehydrate (it is also the cause of the ‘after-grog bog’).
Here are a number of approaches to combating a hangover:
The Samurai Approach
While this is my least-preferred method, it is probably the most efficient and basically involves stuffing yourself with sushi, miso soup, and natto (fermented soybeans). Together, these ingredients combat both the symptoms and the causes of your hangover – the nori (seaweed) sushi wrap is particularly effective in replacing vitamin B12 which is lost as the body metabolizes alcohol and the ginger that comes with the sushi has powerful anti-nausea effects. As for natto and miso – while they may be gross, they are incredibly good for you (miso is so good for you that it can cure radiation sickness). They are both extremely high in protein, vitamins and minerals – all of which need replacing after a hard night out. The soup also helps to hydrate you but remember to drink a lot of water (or sports drink) as well.
The ‘Healthy’ Approach
Juice – preferably beetroot, apple, celery, carrot and ginger – is as good as you can get (make sure it is over ice though), or an extra-spicy tomato juice does wonders in replacing fluid and vitamins. In no circumstances should you be tempted by wheat-grass – even to the non-hungover it is an extreme shock to the system (and is completely awful) and takes between two weeks and a month to work properly. If you are really that serious about getting healthy, start tomorrow.
The American Approach
If you are anything like me, a hangover is the perfect excuse to binge on fast food. This is all good and well but remember that a BigMac Super-Combo offers virtually no anti-hangover qualities other than the little bit of pep you gain from the sugar and caffeine (see The Wellington Approach) in your Coke. It does, however, have the added bonus of tasting the same coming up as it did going down — that’s two meals for the price of one!
The Wellington Approach
Coffee, coffee and more coffee. This will give you a quick pick-me-up which can be quite good to combat the hangover-related lethargy in order to go out and collect the supplies needed to wallow successfully in alcohol-induced self-pity. But beware of drinking too much as it can cause “serious delirium” – terrible anxiety, which, coupled with the other effects of a hangover, is never fun. Coffee is a powerful antioxidant and while this is more or less a good thing, it will strip the nutrients from good things as well, so if you are going to combine approaches leave at least an hour between drinking coffee and eating something healthy.
A Note on Water…
Contrary to popular belief, you can drink too much water, which can cause its own problems. Drink lots of water but don’t go overboard. Better yet, combine water with a sports drink such as Powerade – they are designed to re-hydrate people more effectively than water as the ‘electrolytes’ (basically sugars and salts) enable the body to absorb more water than it would usually. It is scientifically proven and shit.