What Causes a Hangover?
The answer to this question is open to some debate, but experts seem to agree that the big culprits are congeners. Congeners are toxic impurities created during the fermentation process. And it is the presence of these organic chemicals in alcohol that causes at least some of the discomfort we feel when we drink too much.
And since not all alcoholic-beverages are created equally, your choice of libation tonight can greatly impact the effects you feel tomorrow. "Cleaner" liquors like vodka contain fewer congeners and may therefore do less damage than darker, more congener-heavy choices like bourbon.
Brandy, Rum, Single Malts
And grape-based alcohol like wine and champagne follows the same color guidelines: white wine has fewer congeners than red. Plus, wines can contain a great deal of sulfites (a preservative) causing still more problems for some. Sulfites have been known to trigger asthma, migraines and other adverse reactions in certain individuals. Generally speaking, the higher quality (and consequently, more expensive) the product, the less of these additives you'll find. So pay now, or pay later… the choice is up to you.
Newsflash: Some people claim that taking charcoal tablets can speed up the removal of the congeners from the body, making you feel better. Vitamin C, cabbage and sauerkraut juice have also been reputed to do the same.
What is a Hangover?
Medical sources agree on a few physiological effects of drinking:
Alcohol evaporates body fluids causing dehydration.
Alcohol is toxic to your liver and to your nervous system resulting in a kind of nervous shock.
Alcohol irritates your urinary system and upper digestive tract, creating an "upset stomach."
Alcohol can deplete your bodily reserves of many nutrients such as:
Vitamins - A, B, B6 and C
Minerals - Calcium, Magnesium, Niacin and Potassium