Those battling a weekend hangover may be dreaming of a greasy fry-up to wash away their headaches, nausea and tiredness.
But those suffering from the after-effects of alcohol should consider a meal of gut-friendly fermented foods, experts say.
Options like kimchi, kombucha and kefir improve gut and liver health, which is vital for the body to better eliminate alcohol from the system and therefore reduce the duration of a hangover, says the company based in London. registered dietitian Lucy Kerrison.
Fermented foods, which are made by adding microorganisms such as bacteria or yeast to products such as vegetables, tea or milk, can also combat dehydration, which is behind many hangover symptoms, according to Kerrison.
However, other nutrition experts warn that eating these foods when you’re hungover will have “little to no effect” on how the body handles alcohol.
The image shows someone using chopsticks to scoop kimchi from a jar. Kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut naturally contain probiotic bacteria that may help with hangovers.
Ms Kerrison told MailOnline: “We know that the liver is responsible for alcohol metabolism, so looking after gut and liver health can have a positive impact on alcohol metabolism.”
She said: “The faster you metabolize and remove alcohol from your system, the shorter your hangover will be.”
“Maintaining good gut health can strengthen intestinal barrier function, so it is less affected by alcohol, a known intestinal irritant that can affect intestinal motility, permeability, and nutrient absorption.”
He added: “If you suffer from a hangover, you often crave foods high in salt and carbohydrates.”
‘Alcohol dehydrates and salt causes water retention, so adding a little salt to the diet is not bad during a hangover.
“Fermented foods high in salt, such as kimchi and sauerkraut, can be helpful.
“They also contain live bacteria that can have a positive impact on our gut microbiome, something that can be damaged by excessive alcohol consumption.”
While civilizations have been fermenting foods for thousands of years for their preservative effects, it has recently gained popularity due to its beneficial health effects.
Pictured is a selection of fermented foods containing probiotics. This includes kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso soup, tempeh, natto, kimchi, yogurt, mozzarella and gouda cheeses, cottage cheese. Taking probiotic supplements or eating fermented foods, such as kimchi or sauerkraut, helps repopulate gut bacteria and may help the imbalance caused by drinking too much.
These include kimchi, a Korean dish made with salted and fermented vegetables such as cabbage and radish; kombucha, a fermented carbonated drink made from sweetened tea; and sauerkraut, which is essentially fermented cabbage.
These fermented foods contain probiotics (foods with live microbes that travel to the intestine to improve health), which may be another reason why they can curb the effect of alcohol.
Studies In animals, it has been found that consuming probiotics before drinking causes the body to absorb less alcohol.
Another component found in some fermented foods may also explain why dietitians believe they can relieve hangovers.
Alcohol can damage the intestine because it alters short-chain fatty acids, which maintain intestinal health by reducing inflammation and regulating immune function.
The body converts alcohol to acetaldehyde and then acetate, which alters the ratio of short-chain fatty acids and contributes to hangover symptoms, experts say.
But butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid found in some kombuchas, can help rebalance the ratio.
Dr Duane Mellor, registered dietician and senior lecturer at Aston University in Birmingham, said butyrate can bring more good bacteria to the colon.
However, consuming fermented products before drinking them will not help prevent a hangover, he warns.
Dr Mellor said: “Most alcohol is absorbed in the upper part of the intestine, so unless you drink excessively, very little will reach the colon, where most bacteria are found.”
And eating them while hungover will have “little to no effect on the way your body handles alcohol.”
“The best way to avoid a hangover is to not drink excessively,” he added.
However, he highlighted its benefits for general health.
Tai Ibitoye, a London-based registered dietitian, noted that, although good for your health, fermented foods are by no means a “magic bullet” when it comes to drinking too much alcohol.
She said: “Probiotic foods and fermented foods can help diversify the gut microbiome and help with imbalance.”
‘Some studies have shown that it can help reduce liver enzymes in alcohol-induced liver injury.
“However, the evidence is based on small studies and focuses on chronic alcohol use, so more research is needed.”
DO YOU DRINK TOO MUCH ALCOHOL? THE 10 QUESTIONS THAT REVEAL YOUR RISK
A screening tool widely used by medical professionals is the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Testing). Developed in collaboration with the World Health Organization, the 10-question test is considered the gold standard to help determine if someone has alcohol abuse problems.
The test has been reproduced here with permission from the WHO.
To complete it, answer each question and write down the corresponding score.
0-7: You are within the range of reasonable alcohol consumption and are at low risk for alcohol-related problems.
Over 8: Indicates harmful or dangerous consumption.
8-15: Medium risk level. Drinking at your current level puts you at risk of developing problems with your health and your life in general, such as work and relationships. Consider cutting back (see tips below).
16-19: Increased risk of complications from alcohol. Cutting back on your own may be difficult at this level as you may be dependent, so you may need professional help from your GP and/or a counsellor.
20 and over: Possible dependency. Your alcohol consumption is already causing you problems and it is very possible that you are dependent. You should definitely consider stopping drinking gradually or at least reducing your alcohol consumption. You should seek professional help to determine the level of your dependence and the safest way to quit alcohol.
Severe dependence may require medically assisted withdrawal or detoxification in a hospital or specialized clinic. This is due to the likelihood of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms occurring in the first 48 hours requiring specialized treatment.