Relieving the hangover effects of drinking alcohol, which often occur the morning after such consumption, involves a type of folk medicine that has no definitive medical evidence to back it up. This makes choosing hangover food a subject of personal taste and experimentation. Several types of hangover food are commonly recommended to alleviate the symptoms of drinking, however, and these include bananas, eggs, and foods high in fat content.
Foods high in carbohydrates and protein are often recommended as a way to slow down the liver's metabolism of alcohol. Eggs are thought to do this by the action of cysteine, an amino acid protein that they are high in, which can break down acetaldeyhde. Acetaldehyde is produced as the human body breaks down alcohol by the oxidation of ethanol, so eggs are thought to inhibit this process. Proteins and carbohydrates are hangover remedies because they are composed of large molecules that are slow to be digested, and, when mixed with alcohol, can slow its processing into the bloodstream. Carbohydrates also raise blood sugar levels, which will help with fatigue and drowsiness, both common hangover symptoms.
Fatty foods are often recommended as a good hangover food, whether they come from so-called good fat sources, such as olive oil, or bad fats, such as those found in fast food. The fat and oils in this hangover diet will line the stomach and intestines, and can slow the body's processing of alcohol. They are best consumed before drinking starts, however, as their effect afterwards can include stomach irritation.
Fruit juice and fruits overall are a recommended food category largely due to the fact that they contain a lot of water that alleviates dehydration, simple sugars such as fructose that can boost energy levels, and vitamins. Bananas often fall into this category not because of the sugar that they contain, but because of the fact that they are high in the vitamin potassium that is lost due to the diuretic effect of drinking. Water in general is the best method of diluting alcohol in the body to slow its digestion, and the quickest way to proper hydration. The consumption of fruit may also add to the body's ability to break down toxins more quickly.
Vegetable and noodle soups are often suggested as a category of hangover food. They are high in sodium and potassium salts that the body loses as it becomes dehydrated, and another good source of water. Asian soup or pasta meals also often contain ginger, which has natural sugars and a soothing effect on the stomach. Ginger ale or ginger tea also fall into this general hangover food category, and both are good at alleviating nausea.
While some hangover cures include pain medication in the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug category (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, a natural approach is to substitute herbs as a hangover food. Willow bark and primrose oil both have aspirin-like effects and are beneficial to the liver. Milk thistle is another common herbal supplement that can restore natural liver metabolism. Chewing on fennel seeds or drinking peppermint tea is said to have similar effects.