Wine before beer, or beer before wine? Either way, you’ll be hungover, study finds

11/02/2019

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“Beer before wine and you’ll feel fine; wine before beer and you’ll feel queer” goes the age-old aphorism. But scientists have now shown that it doesn’t matter how you order your drinks – if you drink too much, you’re still likely to be ill.

Unpleasant as hangovers are, we should remember that they do have one important benefit... they can help us learn from our mistakes

Kai Hensel

Most people will at some point in their life experience one of many the downsides of excess drinking: the hangover. Importantly, hangovers can lead to reduced productivity, impaired performance (including missing work or academic underperformance) and even risk to daily tasks such driving or operating heavy machinery.

Hangover symptoms occur when higher-than-normal blood alcohol concentrations drop back to zero. Surprisingly, the phenomenon is not particularly understood, though it is thought that their underlying causes include dehydration, our immune response, and disturbances of our metabolism and hormone. Hangovers are likely to be influenced by ingredients other than the pure alcohol content. Colourings and flavourings have been suggested as making hangovers worse, which might explain why, at the same alcohol concentration, Bourbon causes a more severe hangover than vodka.

There are no effective hangover remedies – instead, societies appear to rely on folk remedies (such as ‘hair of the dog’) and old folk sayings. Such sayings exist in numerous languages: other examples in English include "Grape or grain, but never the twain”, while Germans claim “Wein auf Bier, das rat’ ich Dir—Bier auf Wein, das lass’ sein” and the French say “Bière sur vin est venin, vin sur bière est belle manière”.

There is little evidence available to support or refute these sayings, so, to put an end to this uncertainty, researchers at Witten/Herdecke University in Germany and the University of Cambridge in the UK evaluated scientifically whether or not this time-honoured wisdom truly reduces a hangover burden. The results of their study are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge

 

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