We’ve long been told to eat and drink before, during, and after alcohol consumption. Part of the reason for this is to help fill up the stomach a bit, so there’s less room for alcohol. It can also help prevent dehydration, since alcohol is a diuretic. There are certain foods that it’s best to avoid, particularly things that are likely to make your stomach even more upset than it already will be if you’ve been drinking heavily. For example, foods that are very spicy or very fatty are not a good idea. On the other hand, there may be a food that can actually prevent some of the harmful effects of drinking.
In 2012, researchers discovered that drinking tomato juice can help prevent or ease the symptoms of a hangover. The study was funded by two Japanese companies, Asahi Breweries, which makes beer and soft drinks, and Kagome Co., a manufacturer of various tomato-based foods, including vegetable juices, tomato juice, and ketchup. Subjects in the study were given 100mL (3 ounces, or about two shot glasses) of alcohol chased with 480mL (16 ounces) of tomato juice. As a control, the same group was later given the same amounts, only with water instead of tomato juice. It turned out that when chasing with tomato juice, the subjects’ blood alcohol levels ended up three times lower than with the water. Also, the test subjects became completely sober 50 minutes faster with the tomato juice than the water.
The researchers determined that drinking tomato juice triggers enzymes in your liver. These enzymes are released when you drink, and they break down or metabolize the alcohol in your liver. The tomato juice apparently released considerably more of the enzymes than usual.
This sounds promising, but there haven’t been enough studies done to say if it’s a definite solution. Also, we should keep in mind that the study was paid for by companies with a vested interest in selling more tomato juice. The fact that water was the only other liquid tested might have an effect on the results, too – after all, it’s likely that Gatorade or some other drink with vitamins, minerals, and sugar would have sobered the test subjects up faster than the water.
There was another study done in the United States, this one through the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, MA, that tested the effects of tomato products on rats. The rats were given 100 grams of alcohol (approximately 7 standard alcoholic drinks) daily for 4 weeks, mimicking chronic, excessive alcohol use in humans. They discovered that tomato powder reduced the effects of alcohol damage in over 90 percent of the rats. If you’re an excessive drinker, you’d have to eat four medium-sized tomatoes or one-third of a cup of tomato sauce daily in order to see an impact on the effects of alcohol.
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