Why Hydration Is So Important When You're Recovering From A Hangover

To quote a deep-cut by Hank Williams, Jr., "the hangovers hurt more than they used to" once we reach that age when our rowdy friends have settled down. By the time we hit 30, our bodies "slowly start losing their elasticity to take abuse," per Healthline, resulting in more noticeable side efforts from boozy nights on the town. A few beers and picklebacks may have left us with a manageable headache in our college years, but they'll undoubtedly cause more unpleasant and longer-lasting symptoms a decade later. 

Even if you favor booze-free bars over nights filled with shots of high-ABV liquor, you've no doubt heard the common advice to drink plenty of water to curb an impending hangover. But according to registered dietitian and BalanceOne specialist Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, downing glasses of tap isn't the only way to cushion the morning-after blow of a drunken night. 

Best shared some useful intel into why hydration is so important, along with the best foods to eat when recovering from a hangover.

Berries, cucumbers, and watermelon are hydrating and anti-inflammatory

"Hydration and foods rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients are two of the quickest ways to curb a hangover," says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, who cites the importance of healthy fats and complex carbs to "give your brain a source of energy." She lists berries, cucumbers, watermelon, brown rice, legumes, avocados, and eggs as examples, as well as water-dense foods like watermelon, grapes, berries, cucumbers, and peaches. That last group also gets points for its natural sugars, which can give you a much-needed boost when all you want to do is crawl into bed. 

Beyond drinking water and getting a healthy dose of fruits and veggies, Best suggests seeking out "macronutrients" (which Healthline defines as "a group of nutrients that provide your body with energy and the components it needs to maintain its structure and functions") to quell the effect of a hangover. One of these is protein, whose amino acids are key to "getting toxins out and breaking down acetaldehyde, which is a byproduct of alcohol metabolism," per Best.

Finally, contrary to popular belief, Best says greasy foods are not the answer to getting your hungover self back on track. In fact, they're likely to cause "further gastrointestinal distress" to the body and exacerbate symptoms such as nausea. If you're battling a hangover, you're better off saving that spicy chicken sandwich for when the alcohol has left your system.