Drink Vodka to Avoid Hangovers?
It's the time of the season where office parties, family dinners, and New Year celebrations bring about lots of merry drinking. If you'd like to keep the hangovers to a minimum, drink lighter coloured alcohol, says a new study.
Compared to clear alcohol (think vodka and gin), dark spirits like whiskey and rye contain higher levels of congeners, substances which occur naturally or added during production. Congeners, which can be toxic, contribute to the colour, smell, and taste but can play a part in why you wakeup with a banging hangover the next day.
Don't blame it all on the congeners, alcohol still plays the starring role in your morning (or afternoon) hangover. “Bourbon does make people feel somewhat worse, but the bourbon isn't the whole story...bourbon jacks it up a bit, but the increase in how sick people feel is not enough to affect their performance," says lead researcher Damaris Rohsenow, associate director at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island.
Researchers tested 95 people between the ages of 21 and 35 and drank either Wild Turkey (bourbon) or Absolut (vodka) mixed with caffeine-free cola to help mask the taste of the drink. Bourbon is aged in oak barrels and contains 37 more times congeners as vodka which is filtered.
Bourbon drinkers in the study reported bigger hangovers than the vodka drinkers. Both groups were 2% slower on performance tasks than the control group that did not drink. Once you're noticeably drunk, the congeners don't make or break your morning hangover. If you've already had too much to drink, you'll probably feel it in the morning regardless of colour or congeners.
The congeners to dark liquor ratio does not apply to all types of alcohol as Rose wine had 20% more congeners than burgundy-coloured wine. Budweiser contains twice as many congeners as Miller even though they have similar colours. Go figure.
The only foolproof way of preventing the hangover is to not drink at all. If you're going to participate in the festivities, then take note of the following suggestions to avoid the hangover pitfall:
- Drink 8oz of water with each alcoholic beverage.
- Eat food when drinking.
- Drink a litre of water before you go to bed.
- Take in lots of electrolytes before, during, and after you drink. Think potatoes, bananas, or sports hydration drinks.
- Take a cab or designate a sober driver if you do have to drive. Play safe this holiday season and drink responsibly.
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