Q: Does drinking on a full stomach help prevent a hangover? -Angel, West Orange, N.J.
A: A hangover is a group of adverse symptoms which occurs as a result of overconsumption of alcohol. Excessive drinking can cause electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, disruption of restful sleep patterns and gastrointestinal issues; symptoms can include headache, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, fatigue, confusion and an increased heart rate, among others. There are myriad myths about preventing and curing hangovers, many of which we've already busted or confirmed, including cheap vs. expensive alcohol, red vs. white wine, fighting off symptoms with coffee and caffeine and whether or not altitude influences hangover severity. Even weather and genetics may influence how alcohol affects us.
When it comes to food, though, eating definitely helps. According to Prof. Helena Conibear, codirector of the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research, "It is always wise to eat before or while drinking. In short, lining the stomach prevents alcohol from rushing into your blood stream and gives your liver more time to break down the alcohol that is therefore released more slowly." The enzymes ADH [alcohol dehydrogenases] in your liver can break down close to one drink's worth of alcohol per hour. There's nothing we can do to speed up how fast the liver does its work, but we can help it out by slowing down the speed at which alcohol is absorbed by eating food when we drink. She goes on to say that "drinking water with wine and eating while drinking-what we call the sip-and-savor approach-is best! However, drinking on a full stomach does not reduce the amount of alcohol you imbibe, so if you've drunk too much, you will suffer the consequences. The message, as always, is moderation!"
If you're looking for a wine that doesn't cause hangovers, you'll have better luck finding a unicorn.