On that painful morning after the night before, there is often nothing more tempting than a bacon sandwich. But scientists have now hailed a beef and noodle broth as the perfect hangover remedy, saying its healing properties after a heavy night are based on scientific fact.
Yak-a-mein is little known outside New Orleans, where it has acquired its nickname after helping countless revellers recover from partying for decades.
Although recipes vary, an Old Sober (as the dish is known) is typically made with a salty beef and soy sauce based broth, noodles, either beef, chicken or shrimp; onions and a sliced hard-boiled egg.
Professor Alyson Mitchell, of the University of California, Davis, said Yak-a-mein contains a perfect mix of salts, protein, carbohydrates and micronutrients to zap a sore head.
Folklore has it that American soldiers from New Orleans stationed in Korea during the Fifties learned to appreciate Yak-a-mein and brought a taste for it back home. Hangovers arise when more alcohol than the body can cope with is consumed.
High blood levels of ethanol – the intoxicating ingredient in alcohol – teamed with dehydration and the toxic effect of the body’s breakdown of alcohol into acetaldehyde and of substances called congeners cause what Professor Alyson Mitchell referred to as a ‘metabolic storm’.
Symptoms includes a headache, nausea, fatigue, body aches and weakness. ‘Drinks with higher concentrations of congeners generally result in more pronounced symptoms,’ said Professor Mitchell, whose work was presented recently at an American Chemical Society meeting.
‘Red wines and dark liquors such as brandy and whisky contain higher levels of congeners than white wine and clear spirits such as vodka. Carbonation speeds the absorption of alcohol too.’
At the meeting. she explained how each individual ingredient in the soup beat the hangover.She explained that eggs contain an amino acid called cysteine that removes acetyldehyde from the body. The salts replace sodium and potassium lost in the urine due to the diuretic effect of alcohol.
Vitamin B1 or Thiamine found in meat and fish may also help prevent the build up of glutarate, the substance linked to the classic hangover headache . But, said Prof Mitchell, the best way to treat a hangover is to avoid drinking too much in the first place:
She said: ‘The body can eliminate 15ml of pure alcohol per hour. So consume no more than one a pint of beer, a 175ml glass of wine, or 30ml of spirits within that time to prevent a sore head.’
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