Nutritionist Laura Tilt says that they’re “chemicals produced during alcohol fermentation that contribute to hangover symptoms.“Congeners might make the alcohol taste nice, but they make us feel bad, because they are a type of toxin,” she explains. Bourbon is the worst offender for a pounding head. A good rule of thumb is the darker the drink, the harsher the hangover as “dark coloured drinks contain high levels of congeners.” Sadly for fans of a bourbon on the rocks, whisky is especially high in these toxins, including methanol which can linger in the body even after all alcohol has been eliminated.
Unfortunately, some of us are more prone to getting headaches after drinking tannin-rich reds like Riojas and Malbecs (you can test if you are by drinking over-brewed black tea and seeing if you feel the same effects). Histamines are chemicals that the body releases when we have an allergic reaction and can cause symptoms such as itchy eyes, runny nose and the dreaded headache.
Drinking enough water is a health message that’s been broadcast loud and clear. “Some people are such water-drinking devotees that they are aquaholics,” says Manhattan osteopathic physician Christopher Calapai. The result is overhydration, or hyponatremia, which is a term used to describe a low concentration of sodium in the blood that can be dangerous or even life-threatening. Overhydration is the most common electrolyte imbalance in hospitals, occurring in about two percent of all people, Calapai says.
Hangovers are rough no matter how you slice it — but in our twenties, many of us could throw back multiple rounds of tequila shots, pop a couple of Advil the next day, and be relatively good to go. Not so much in your 30s.