Health

11 Foods To Soothe An Upset Stomach When You’re Hungover

That burger probably isn’t your best move.

Oatmeal can help soothe a hangover stomach ache.
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There is truly nothing worse than a rough hangover. The pounding headache, the sensitivity to light, the nausea — it’s horrible. You want to crawl in bed all day long and enjoy a hearty cheeseburger with a tub of your favorite ice cream. Not so fast, though. The comfort food we generally reach for the morning after a night out can sometimes make everything worse. Alcohol irritates our digestive system and causes our stomachs to produce more acid than usual, resulting in acid reflux and an upset stomach after drinking. So, when you’re searching for a hangover stomach cure, it’s important to stay hydrated as well as turn to foods that will give your liver a boost.

“You want to support your liver, because it's trying really hard to get rid of all the toxins,” registered dietician Danielle Oldfield tells Bustle. These toxins refer to the alcohol that enters your system, which your liver then breaks down using enzymes such as alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). The best foods to help with this task will be leafy greens, fruits, and other nutrient-filled choices, rather than the Ben and Jerry’s you’re reaching for (save that for another night).

While an enticing Sunday hangover nosh may consist of fried chicken, a few Twixes, and Coca Cola, that will likely only be satisfying for about half an hour (tops) before the nausea comes back with a vengeance. So, it’s better in the long run if you reach for sustenance and protein that will fill you up as well while also comforting your tummy. Next time you’re clutching your head, wondering why you had that extra cocktail last night, try any of these 11 foods that will nurse your upset stomach back to working condition in no time.

1. Eggs

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This breakfast staple is full of amino acids, including cysteine, which gets rid of the toxins that actually cause your hangover. Cysteine is also a powerful hangover cure because it “helps relieve nausea and headache by breaking down acetaldehyde, a byproduct of alcohol metabolism,” Becky Kerkenbush, RD-AP and President of the Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells Bustle.

Not to mention, eggs are protein-filled, which can bring many benefits in the heat of your Sunday morning scaries. “Eggs provide protein, which will help you to rebuild energy reserves and can relieve digestive problems,” Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of Ancient Nutrition and author of the best-selling book Ancient Remedies says. Plus, the protein you get from eggs will leave you feeling full and satisfied, preventing you from later reaching for snacks that may not be as kind to your upset stomach.

2. Whole Grain Toast

Bread is a good source of bland calories that will settle your stomach rather than forcing it to work too hard during the digestion process, and whole grains are a source of nicotinic acid, or Niacin, which is a B vitamin proven to decrease hangover severity. Sounds like a match made in heaven, right?

No need to settle for anything dry and boring, though. Make artisanal toast out of rye bread, bacon, avocado, and tomato. Finish with a sprinkle of shaved Parmesan.

3. Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup is a great choice when your stomach is not in its happy place. Not only is this fan favorite gentle on the digestive system, but “[chicken noodle soup] will help in restoring the lost electrolytes,” Clara Lawson, RDN, a registered dietician nutritionist, tells Bustle.

She adds that the chicken is actually what takes this hangover stomach cure to the next level. “The protein from chicken will manage your satiety, so that you don’t have to eat a proper meal when your stomach isn’t ready for it.”

4. Bananas

The immense amount of potassium in these brightly colored fruits helps to balance the fluids in your body, which is especially needed after alcohol leaves you dehydrated. Potassium is also an important electrolyte that is often depleted after your series of gin and tonics.

“Bananas are high in potassium, and if you're having a diuretic, then you do tend to lose electrolytes like potassium and magnesium,” Oldfield explains. She adds that magnesium is key for a hangover as well because it can help you sleep, which isn’t always easy the morning after a rough night.

Treat yourself to banana pancakes, maybe with just a tad of Nutella spread on the top. Or, for extra hydration, “try a banana in your smoothie, along with coconut water,” Kerkenbush adds.

5. Honey

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“Research has shown us that honey may help with your hangover because of its high fructose content,” Dr. Seema Bonney, M.D., founder and medical director of the Anti-Aging & Longevity Center of Philadelphia, says. The high fructose content helps break down the alcohol faster in your stomach.

Honey is also a source of antioxidants, which are beneficial in nursing your worst hangover symptoms. “Try adding some into your favorite tea or swallowing a spoonful straight up,” Bonney suggests.

6. Oats

I love to make myself a steaming hot bowl of banana date oatmeal. This superfood is packed with vitamin B, magnesium, and fiber. “Large amounts of alcohol consumption can deplete your body of some of these key nutrients,” Chelsey Amer, MS, RDN, CDN, and SideChef ambassador says, “but replenishing with a bowl of oatmeal will provide energy and the nourishment you need.” Sprinkle some cinnamon on top for extra goodness.

7. Spinach

Because alcohol is a toxin that is not a friend to our livers, the best way to recover from a hangover is to eat foods that support liver enzymes. “It’s probably not things that you would want to eat,” Oldfield says, “but it’s things like spinach or kale.”

Dark green veggies are chock full of vitamin C, folic acid, and antioxidants. I’m not prescribing a salad at sunrise (although that wouldn’t be a bad idea); instead, reach for a green smoothie with coconut water. For extra antioxidants, mix in some fruit like kiwi or strawberries, too.

8. Tomatoes

Your stomach and gastrointestinal tract is pretty irritated from the booze, so the lycopene in tomatoes can reduce that inflammation. But no hair of the dog — say no to the Bloody Marys! While it’s a tempting fix that may postpone your headache, it’s not proven to actually help ease your hangover. Instead, just drink tomato juice or assemble a yummy tomato, lettuce, egg, and mayo sandwich.

9. Sweet Potatoes

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Before you get too excited, I don’t mean sweet potato fries dripping with grease. Instead, make a hangover hash with extra virgin olive oil. “Sweet potatoes provide complex carbohydrates that can help to boost energy levels and make you feel full for longer,” Axe explains.

They are also a great source of fiber, vitamins, and potassium, all of which are helpful nutrients in aiding an upset stomach after drinking. Just add a fried egg on top, and you’ll be more than satisfied.

10. Lemons

They’re an alkaline fruit, which can moderate the extra acid produced during drinking, keeping that hangover acid reflux in check. “Even though they’re very acidic,” Oldfield explains, “they’re very alkaline, and very good for the liver,” which, let’s be honest, could use a little support after one too many rounds.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to peel them and eat ‘em like oranges. Drink a lot of filtered water with freshly squeezed lemon juice or, better yet, make your own lemonade, sweetened naturally with honey.

11. Hummus With Crackers

Chickpeas — the main ingredient in hummus — contain a good amount of vitamin B6, which will help your hangover by supporting your metabolism and energy levels. “Alcohol inhibits the absorption of B-vitamins like vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin B12,” Axe says, suggesting chickpeas as one option for replenishing this source.

This is your chance to have some whole-wheat crackers on the side, which have the same effect as toast — easy on the belly and good for balancing blood sugar. “One of the main causes of nausea from a hangover is due to low blood sugar,” Melissa Mitri, MS, RD of Wellness Verge, says. “Eating a handful of crackers can help to promptly bring your blood sugar back to normal.”

In the midst of a raging hangover, arguably the best thing you can do is replenish your body with nutrients by eating healthy food. As appealing as that plate of nachos might sound, you’re better off waiting until your stomach calms to dive into the chips and guac. For now, a bowl of oatmeal (and a long nap) will work wonders.

Studies referenced:

Bishehsari F., Magno E., Swanson G., Desai V., Voigt R.M., Forsyth C.B., Keshavarzian A. Alcohol and Gut-Derived Inflammation. Alcohol Res. 2017;38:163–171. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5513683/

Zakhari S. Overview: How is alcohol metabolized by the body? Alcohol Res. Health. 2006;29:245–254. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6527027/

Van Steenwijk H.P., Bast A., de Boer A. Role of circulating lycopene in low-grade chronic inflammation: A systematic review of the literature. Molecules. 2020;25:4378. doi: 10.3390/molecules25194378. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7582666/

Pan, J., Cen, L., Chen, W., Yu, C., Li, Y., & Shen, Z. (2018). Alcohol consumption and the risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 54(1), 62–69. https://doi.org/10.1093/alcalc/agy063

Wang F., Li Y., Zhang Y.J., Zhou Y., Li S., Li H.B. Natural products for the prevention and treatment of hangover and alcohol use disorder. Molecules. 2016;21:64. doi: 10.3390/molecules21010064. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6274469/

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "'Hair of the dog' won’t cure that hangover." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 February 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170214163637.htm>.

Koufman JA, Johnston N. Potential benefits of pH 8.8 alkaline drinking water as an adjunct in the treatment of reflux disease. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2012 Jul;121(7):431-4. doi: 10.1177/000348941212100702. PMID: 22844861.

Experts:

Danielle Oldfield, registered dietician

Becky Kerkenbush, RD-AP and President of the Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of Ancient Nutrition and author of the best-selling book Ancient Remedies

Clara Lawson, registered dietician nutritionist

Dr. Seema Bonney, M.D., founder and medical director of the Anti-Aging & Longevity Center of Philadelphia

Melissa Mitri, MS, RD of Wellness Verge

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