If you're searching for the magical elixir to cure a hangover, Chinese researchers may have found it. The solution: lemon-lime flavoured soda Sprite. But if you prefer to skip the sweet stuff, soda water is a good alternative, findings showed.
Some of the adverse effects of alcohol are thought to be caused not by the alcohol itself but by the process of the body trying to break down the alcohol.
After drinking, the body goes through two stages of a metabolic process to break down ethanol. First the liver metabolizes it into acetaldehyde by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and then into acetate by aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). Unlike acetaldehyde, acetate is considered harmless and may even be responsible for some of the positive health benefits of alcohol consumption. But exposing the body to acetaldehyde actually causes the symptoms of a hangover, including nausea and a pounding headache.
To see what beverages could help the body better metabolize alcohol, researchers at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou analyzed 57 different drinks, including herbal infusions, teas, and carbonated beverages. The team measured their effects on ADH and ALDH, finding that each drink had a different effect.
Interestingly, some herbal teas actually slowed down the process, prolonging a hangover. But the best beverages were Xue bi, the Chinese version of Sprite, as well as soda water, which were found to speed the enzyme's process, shortening the body's exposure to ALDH. Still, before guzzling Sprite or soda water after a few too many, the team said that more research is needed to further support the evidence.
The results, announced October 7, were published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Food and Function.