The Hangover-Healing Properties of Asparagus
Most of us have been there before: a rowdy night of drinking with friends followed by a day of pain and suffering. A hangover poses different symptoms for different people, but it’s not unusual to experience headache, nausea, fatigue, thirst, and increased sensitivity to light and sound. Other symptoms include rapid heartbeat, muscle aches, shakiness, and decreased ability to concentrate. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have access to some type of miracle hangover cure? Researchers suspect that a cure may already exist, and it can be found in one of the most unlikely foods imaginable:
Scientists have found that eating asparagus before or after a night of drinking can help alleviate the next day’s illnesses. And these findings are well-documented, not just another myth. In research published in the Journal of Food Science, Korean scientists suggest minerals found in asparagus can replace those lost in the body after drinking. Extracts from the leaves and shoots of asparagus also boost levels of key enzymes that break down alcohol. The result is a diminished effect of heavy drinking, particularly with regard to physical symptoms.
How Does It Work?
Researchers explain that heavy drinking induces a number of toxic effects on the body, especially in the liver. In this organ, there are two key enzymes – ADH and ALDH – that metabolize ethanol into a “nontoxic” acetate. The goal in fighting a hangover, therefore, is to stimulate these enzyme functions, which asparagus does. By adding the vegetable’s extract to liver cells in a science lab, researchers found that asparagus’ high amino acid content accelerates the body’s breakdown of alcohol.
Asparagus may even go beyond fighting the physical symptoms of a hangover. Chemicals from the vegetable protect liver cells against toxins, thus relieving stress on this organ. Moreover, neither a concentrated meal of asparagus, nor asparagus extract, is necessary to be effective. Simply eating a healthy dose of the green stuff before or after drinking can have a beneficial effect. Scientists recommend eating the leaves as well as the shoots to gain the most efficacy. You may also cook the vegetable, as its amino acids remain stable even after steaming or boiling.
Exactly how effective asparagus is in curing hangovers is yet to be determined. It might, for instance, only fight against the debilitating effects of beer or another specific alcoholic beverage. To help further protect yourself against the toxic effects of liquor, remember to eat before drinking. Alcohol reaches the brain faster if food isn’t present to absorb it. And, regardless of your beverage of choice, drink it slowly and alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water.
If you still don’t follow these tips, you can help clear a hangover by sipping warm sports drinks to replenish electrolytes. Also, consider sipping orange or tomato juice throughout the day to help your body burn off any remaining alcohol more quickly. Last, but not least, put some faith in science and opt for a few stalks of asparagus. You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.