Beer before wine and you’ll feel fine? No you won’t says new study

Beer before wine and you’ll feel fine? No you won’t says new study

We’ve all been there. Waking up with a headache and feeling sick after a night of drinking alcohol. There must be a way to avoid these horrible hangovers.

We often mix drinks. For example, we might drink a beer at the pub and then move on to wine. Folk wisdom says that if you drink wine before beer, you will feel queer. In my native country, Germany, for example, we say: “Wein auf Bier, das rat’ ich Dir–Bier auf Wein, das lass’ sein.” This translates as: “Wine on beer, I’ll advise you to drink beer on wine.”

As we have just shown in our most recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, these statements are not true.

Hangovers can be a mystery in some respects. We know that they are caused by too much drinking, and symptoms appear when the blood alcohol level drops to zero. These symptoms are well known: nausea, headaches, and fatigue. Dehydration, immune system response, metabolism disturbances, and hormonal imbalances are thought to be the underlying cause.

We are not productive when we have a hangover. This could mean that we spend the weekend watching TV, feeling sorry about ourselves, and lying in bed. During the week, it could mean not doing well at work or school or performing poorly.

It’s no wonder that we try to find anything that could reduce or prevent a hangover. We rely instead on folk wisdom, as there are no proven cures for hangovers. Folk wisdom can be very wise or not.

German volunteers

In order to see if the drinking sayings were true and if we could reduce hangovers by consuming beer before wine, 90 healthy volunteers aged between 19-40 years old participated in a study conducted in Germany.

Our volunteers were divided into three groups. The first group consumed around two and a half pints of beer, followed by four large white wine glasses. The second group consumed the same amount of alcohol but in reverse. The third control group consisted of subjects who drank only wine or only lager.

We switched the drinking order a week later between study groups 1 and 2. Subjects in the control group who had only drank beer on the first study day were given wine the next time. The groups were compared, but each participant’s control was also included.

We asked our volunteers to rate their level of well-being on a scale from zero to ten after each study day.

We gave our volunteers a specific amount of water based on their weight before they went to bed. All our volunteers were under medical supervision overnight.

We asked participants to describe their hangovers and then gave them a score between 0 and 56 based on factors such as thirst, fatigue, and headache.

You didn’t get the answer you wanted

Our results may be disappointing to you. Our results showed that the hangover scores of all three groups were not significantly different when drinking different amounts of alcohol. This folk wisdom is not true.

There was no way to predict the severity of a hangover based on blood and urine tests or a person’s age, gender, weight, drinking habit, or frequency. It seems that the only way to predict how bad a hangover would be the next morning was to see how drunk or sick someone felt. These are obvious red flags.

Hangovers can be very uncomfortable. Nature uses them to protect us. We shouldn’t be repeating behaviors that make us feel so bad. There’s really only one way to avoid a hangover. Drink responsibly.


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