Cheese toast might just be the cure for the next pounding hangover.
After researching hangover cures from around the world, food writer Lauren Shockey released her latest cookbook, “Hangover Helper.” In the new release, Shockey said she explores foods that are starchy and hearty, which can help people work toward recovering after a long night of drinking. Shockey said that during her research, she discovered the prevalence of social drinking in South Korean culture and was intrigued by their hangover cures – so she decided to write a book full of her own.
“They actually consumed quite a lot of alcohol in South Korea,” Shockey said. “And it’s so prevalent. In fact … there’s this thing called ‘haejang-guk’ which basically translates to ‘hangover soup.’ … There’s an entire genre of hangover soups.”
In “Hangover Helper,” Shockey includes 50 different recipes that range from bloody marys to Canadian poutine. The book is separated into sections: cocktails, egg dishes, starchy meals and sandwiches. For each of the recipes, Shockey said there is inspiration from international dishes, such as Chinese creole beef noodle soup, but she made her own recreations of them.
While researching and developing her recipes, she said she came to learn the benefits behind each dish. Where American hangover food, such as pancakes and hash browns, is typically thought of as starchy and egg-based, she said the rest of the world has a different take on these rescue meals. If one woke up with a hangover in Japan, for instance, Shockey said one might combat the symptoms by drinking ochazuke, a green tea and rice soup. In other parts of the world, she said they might drink a turmeric latte because of turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties which lessen the severity of hangovers.
“I thought it was really interesting how this culture has this entire culinary cannon of foods devoted to hangovers,” she said. “And it’s so different from what we would eat here in America as hangover food.”
The exact science behind hangovers is in the chemicals, said graduate student Duo Xu, who does research on hangovers and acute intoxication. When someone drinks, Xu said their body experiences dehydration due to alcohol, which can disrupt sleep rhythms. There is also metabolism in alcoholic beverages that produces a toxic intermediate molecule called acetaldehyde which negatively affects the liver, he said.
To solve this problem and fight the impacts of it the next day, Xu said it is best to eat things like bread before consuming alcohol, as it will soak the beverage up in the stomach as one drinks. Yogurt is also a good choice, as it has properties that stick and line the stomach’s walls to reduce nausea, he said.
“The goal of getting away from acute intoxication or hangover is not only you want to recover from alcohol, but also you want to leave (the acetaldehyde) with as little concentration as possible,” Xu said.
Beyond the scientific factors of curing hangovers, Shockey said she wanted to make her recipes simple, as experiencing the unnecessary outcomes of drinking is something that affects people around the world. To do so, she said she tested each of the recipes herself and then made sure her mother and husband could make them just as easily as she could.
Some of the recipes, such as pepperoni pizza bagels and waffle iron hash browns, can even be made in a college dorm room, Shockey said. Third-year history student Emily Stokes said when it comes to hangovers she keeps her meals simple. In the morning, she said she’ll usually make herself a plain bagel and drink coconut water to kill hangover symptoms.
“(Coconut water) has electrolytes in it, so it’s better at replacing fluids – because alcohol is dehydrating,” Stokes said. “I feel like it helps to cure headaches faster than water.”
While making hangover foods the next morning might be fun, Xu said there are key factors in preventing the negative effects of alcohol. Staying hydrated throughout the night and the following morning after drinking quickens the process of the body’s recovery and makes headaches dwindle faster, he said. Combining hydration with a good night of sleep, Xu said, will help lessen the symptoms of a bad hangover.
“I think the most direct way … (to solve hangovers) is to drink as much water as you can, to speed up the whole process through getting rid of alcohol,” Xu said.