Asparagus and Hangovers: Can This Veggie Really Help?

Dec 21, 2023

I was recently on ABC Radio giving my two cents about the recent TikTok that went viral about asparagus curing hangovers (you can listen to the playback here - fast forward to the 2:18:00 mark).

Fact or fiction? Let's check it out....

Alright, let’s dive into this intriguing idea about asparagus – the veggie that supposedly can work some magic on your hangover. You might have heard that munching on asparagus before a night out can save you from the next morning's groggy headache. But is there any truth to it, or is it just another one of those quirky myths about hangover cures?

So, here's the scoop: studies have shown that parts of asparagus, like its shoots and leaves, could actually be good for your liver cells. These components seem to help deal with cellular toxicity. That's what got people talking about asparagus potentially reducing the effects of hangovers and shielding your liver from the not-so-great aftermath of too much drinking.

But before you rush to load up your shopping cart with asparagus, here's the catch: those studies often look at extracts of asparagus that aren't exactly what you'd normally put on your plate. And these studies when only test tube studies, not done on real whole humans. So, while it sounds promising, there isn't solid proof that chowing down on asparagus before drinking will significantly dial down your hangover.

What makes asparagus seem like a superhero against hangovers?

Well, it's packed with some crucial amino acids like cysteine, glycine, and l-arginine. These are like the VIPs for keeping your liver healthy and helping your body process alcohol. Plus, it's got antioxidants like Vitamin C and various B vitamins that can help clean up the mess alcohol leaves behind in your cells.

But...before you start envisioning an asparagus feast as your ultimate hangover cure, let's talk numbers. To really make a dent in preventing a hangover, you’d have to eat a crazy amount of asparagus. For example, let's look at the antioxidant glycine. One lonely spear of asparagus only packs about 18mg of glycine. To hit a solid therapeutic dose (around 3g), you'd need to gobble up around 166 spears. Yeah, not exactly practical!

Timing matters too. If you want to give asparagus a shot, have some before and after hitting the bottle. Eating it beforehand might help your body prep for the alcohol onslaught, while munching on it afterward could help patch up any damage.

Now, what about other foods that might assist in getting over you a dreaded hangover?

Veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and spinach have a similar nutritional vibe to asparagus, so they would be worth a shot. Also, things like celery juice, beetroot, and grapefruit are loaded with antioxidants that could lend a hand in fixing up your liver cells – just be cautious if you’re on any meds that might clash with grapefruit.

Ever wondered why people swear by fizzy drinks like Coke for hangovers?

Ok, so it's definitely not something I would recommend! But the science behind why fizzy drinks can help the day after is because it can rehydrate you (temporarily - the sugar will make you thirsty), as alcohol messes with your body’s ability to hold onto water, leaving you dehydrated. Also caffeinated beverages can ease your pounding headache as it constricts the brain's blood vessels. But that sugar rush? It might offer a quick pick-me-up but you will have a sugar crash later, so I'd advise NOT using soft drinks. 

Of course, the ultimate way to avoid a hangover is to sip drinks in moderation, or better yet - stick to non-alcoholic drinks. But for those times when you go a bit overboard, remember these tips:

Keep chugging water – match each drink with two glasses of water to keep things balanced.

Supplements like glutathione, NAC, and Vitamin C can give you a boost.

Herbal teas with dandelion, ginger, or turmeric are said to help detox too.

As the festive season gears up, the quest for hangover hacks intensifies. While asparagus holds promise, it might not be the golden ticket to a hangover-free morning. However it's a great, nutritious food to have any time of the year - so keep steaming and munching on those spears ;)


AUTHOR: Filipa Bellette 

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