There are many reasons that may contribute to alcohol hangover symptoms, but the two key factors to consider are dehydration and the toxic effects of alcohol itself in the body. While only time can reverse the latter, dehydration can quickly be reversed, and its symptoms relieved, with water and electrolyte supplements like sports drinks. So why it’s so important to rehydrate after imbibing, you may ask?
Alcohol is a diuretic. It causes your brain to slow production of vasopressin1 2, the hormone that tells your body to retain water. With decreased vasopressin, your body stops holding as much fluid and starts sending it straight to your bladder.
But it is not just letting out the fluids that you’re drinking, it’s also removing the fluid already inside your body. And as you drink more, you reduce your vasopressin production further, causing even more water to rush out of your system.
Even today we still don't fully understand how alcohol causes this excessive urination.
According to alcohol researcher Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki3, if someone drinks 200ml of beer, the end result in our body is 200 ml of water. But one doesn't urinate just these 200ml – she will actually urinate a total of about 320ml. So, what this all mean?
This means that each shot of alcohol makes you urinate an extra 120ml on top of your normal urine output (70ml per hour)!
The main point is that all those extra trips to the bathroom will leave you dehydrated and stripped of electrolytes.
How Dehydration From Alcohol Affects Our Body
While most people know perfectly well that water is the way to go, up to 75 percent of the American population fall short of the 10 daily cups prescribed by the Institute of Medicine4 – which, in medical terms, means that most people in the U.S are functioning in a chronic state of dehydration.
So, when you add alcohol to the picture, and knowing that alcohol consumption increases urine production and dehydratation, the body can lose additional fluids and electrolytes further worsening our health.
Here is how dehydration from alcohol may affect our body:
- Your skin can develop acne from changing hormone levels and oxidative stress due to alcohol consumption5.
- Your muscles can become stiff or cramped and even lose mass with drinking too much alcohol over time. This is known as alcoholic myopathy6.
- Your liver can become damaged by excessive fat and protein build-up, as well as scarring, which can lead to liver disease and cirrhosis7.
- Your kidneys can be harmed by high blood pressure and toxins as they process alcohol components into urine.
- Your brain can lose some of its main cognitive functions, such as making choices and responding to your environment8.
Remember this: 60 percent of our bodies are composed of water. About 75 percent of our muscles and 85 percent of our brains are made of water. Hence, prompt rehydration is imperative whenever dehydration occurs from excessive alcohol consumption. Your body will thank you.
How to Rehydrate After Drinking Alcohol
The best way to prevent dehydration is to make sure you’re hydrated before you go out, while you’re drinking, and before you go to sleep.
On top of water, experts strongly recommend consuming more potassium9. Potassium has been shown to increase vasopressin production, so if you eat more peas, beans of all sorts and bananas, you can potentially spike your vasopressin production before you go out drinking and prevent chronic dehydration from drinking.
But the very best way to make sure you are hydrated is to balance the body salts by using electrolytes rehydration supplements, like Purple Tree's Hydration Drops.
These types of electrolyte supplements contain a specific ratio of salts (like potassium and magnesium) to maximize how much of the water your body absorbs. People use them to make sure the body is fully hydrated before and after the night.
And while you’re at the bars, you should drink normal water in between drinks as well.
Alcohol consumption increases urine production and dehydrates the body leading to many common hangover symptoms including thirst, weakness, dryness of mucous membranes, dizziness, and lightheadedness. Because sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea also can occur as a result of excessive drinking, the body can lose additional fluids and electrolytes, impacting other parts of our bodies.
People often forget to drink water while drinking wine or other cocktails. Keep in mind that rehydrating throughout the whole night will help you the most in mitigating alcohol’s negative effects. Continuing to snack as the night goes on is another smart move to prevent dehydration.
Staying hydrated not only improves your mental capacity but also helps your body flush out toxins and protects your skin.