HedonXmas — Curing What Ales You

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    Face the facts: Nobody has a hangover cure guaranteed to wipe away last night’s overindulgence.

    “That person would be very, very rich,” says Dr. Seth Gursky, who practices family medicine at Centura Health’s Cornerstar Primary Care in Aurora. When it comes to easing the pain from last night’s cocktail conundrum, “there’s no hard and fast way.”

    There are ways to help a bit with a hangover, but Gursky says there are some things people do that are virtual locks to make a hangover worse.

    The simple, sad truth is, if you guzzle champagne and whatever other boozy treat comes your way on New Year’s Eve, you’re in for a hard day Jan. 1.

    As hard as a hangover is to deal with, it’s apparently equally hard to talk about for some. At the Anschutz Medical Campus — home to an army of doctors well-versed in the ways of making any medical ailment go away — not a single person from University of Colorado was willing to chat about it. Despite CU’s reputation as a party school — or maybe because of it — the experts at School of Medicine declined to share their wisdom when it comes to recovering from the sorts of good times that have long made the state’s flagship school a magnet for youthful booze hounds from across the U.S. Sad.  And local brewers weren’t any more talkative. Seems the image of a bleary-eyed soak with a bellyfull of Aurora’s world-class craft brews isn’t an image they care to discuss. At Dry Dock Brewing Co. — whose delicious but oh-so-sugary Apricot Blonde Ale is hangover fuel packaged in a gorgeous, 12 oz. orange can — a spokeswoman said they didn’t wanna talk because they never recommend drinking to excess.

    Which begs the question: Do you really have to drink to excess to get a hangover? The experts say you don’t. Even just a few cocktails can birth a rough morning, especially as you get up in years.

    Gursky says that the older a person gets, the worse their liver tends to work. Your 35-year-old liver can’t bounce back the way it did when you were 25. That’s not to say your liver is broken or anything, but like a 1978 Dodge Dart, it probably just doesn’t run quite like it used to.

    That’s especially true if you misspent your younger days chugging Keystone Light in the dorm room and giving your liver a ritual flogging. That damage lingers. And as you age, it means your liver gets steadily worse and isn’t able to process and filter out all the bad stuff you throw at it.

    “There’s no way of getting around that,” Gursky says. And he says it’s true some drinks will cause a harsher hangover. Scientists know that clear liquors — think vodka or gin — generally don’t cause quite the thunderous hangover that red wine does. But Gursky said, while they know darker beverages like that bottle of Pinot noir are high-octane hangover fuel, they haven’t quite nailed down the “why.”

    So then, what’s the best bet if you’re looking to stave off a rough start to the New Year? Choose a beverage light in color, for starters. And drink plenty of water along with your alcoholic beverages. Gursky says the old rule of one glass of water with every drink is a good one.

    Some people swear by eating a big meal before they drink, but Gursky said that may result in feeling tired and sluggish, two feelings that will only be amplified by alcohol. The ideal meal is something light — and with plenty of carbohydrates, he says.

    The worst thing you can do is drink a lot over the course of a particularly long day, so maybe skip the day drinking if you know you’ll have a long night, too, the doctor recommended. If it’s close to bed time and you think you can sop up some of the booze in your belly with a big greasy burger, you’re wrong: Gursky says a small healthy meal before bed might blunt the hangover a touch, but that’s rarely what people go for when the bar closes. A big fatty meal before bed actually makes things worse, he says, because your body will be digesting that meal when you’re trying to sleep, something that diminishes your quality of rest. Waking up groggy, as well as hungover, is never fun.

    If you really want to avoid a hangover but still want to drink, Gursky swears by moderation.

    “If you only have two drinks you probably won’t get a hangover,” he says. “And you’ll probably actually sleep quite well.”