Sometimes science is a cruel mistress. It is a simple fact that some must suffer in the pursuit of knowledge. But just think of all the things we learned for the people who are still alive.
Consider the Red Winged Blackbird, generally thought to be monogamous during mating season. Two birds meet, they fall in love, have some hot wing-flapping mid-air bird sex, and fill their little nest with eggs. After this, the male and female both work to bring food to the baby birds. Science saw this and thought it would be fun to steal a few of the male birds away and give them vasectomies right before mating season.
So, these guys start shooting blanks for their lady, and low and behold, at the end of the mating season, the Lady Birds are pregnant…
from some other dude’s Johnson.
That’s right, by sterilizing these males, science revealed that even though Red Winged Blackbirds are socially monogamous, the majority of them are sexually polygamous. Even if one male bird has dominion over a territory where 3 or so females live, he still might find himself taking care of babies that were fathered by someone else.
Even with that fact being as it is, the step father helps to raise the babies, as if they were his own.
That right there is love.
Or to put it another way, it is the delicate dance of a complex mix of chemicals and hormones that come together to create a peaceful home life. It might sound strange, because it is. Recent studies have shown that the hormone ‘vasopressin’ may have considerable impact on sexual, mating, and parenting behaviors. It is also believed to be related to aggressive behaviors, most particularly those compatible with maternal or protective behaviors. Animals known for social monogamy, such as Red Winged Blackbirds, exhibit higher levels of vasopressin than their polygamous counterparts.
The weird part is that this isn’t the hormones most vital function. In many mammals, vasopressin is used to control our bodies ability to retain water. The pituitary gland produces the hormone, which then travels to the kidneys and increases water permeability through highly complicated processes, which I’m not going to bore you with.
If none of this has been interesting thus far, then this is the sentence you’ve been waiting for: When you drink booze, alcohol reduces the secretion of vasopressin, thus decreasing your kidneys ability to retain water, this water is then passed off to the bladder at an alarming rate. (did you get all that? OK. I’ll sum it all up for you) Drinking 1 ounce of alcohol causes the body to expel approximately 4 ounces of water. That’s fucking 4 times as much liquid as you put in!
Vasopressin shortage is the cause of the “breaking the seal” phenomenon, which leads to many symptoms of your post-drunken state, known as, the hangover.
The loss of water causes dehydration, obviously. Since your body is massively short on water, organs try to make up for their own loss by stealing water from the brain, causing the brain to shrink and pull on the membranes that connect it to the skull. This causes you to hate your life. In other bad news, the flood gates also released salts, magnesium and potassium, which are necessary for proper nerve and muscle function. Low levels of these can cause headaches, fatigue and nausea.
While all this shit is happening, your liver is furiously trying to convert alcohol into acetate. Here’s the WORST PART (as if it wasn’t bad enough), in order to convert alcohol into acetate, the liver must first convert it to acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is even more toxic to your body than alcohol is (it’s gotta get worse before it can get better). Since acetaldehyde is a carcinogen and DNA destroyer, among other terrible things, your body must now work furiously to metabolize the stuff. This is done by a chemical called, appropriately, acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (scientific names are so clever). What sucks is that your body only has so much of this stuff stored in your liver, and when it runs out, there are only things your body can do: Wait for your liver to make more and make use of glutathione (a bad ass anti-oxidant). The downside to using glutathione to metabolize your failures and shattered dreams, is that it the chemical is consumed by the process, and thus is robbed from your body, and must be replenished.
THE HANGOVER CURE
This week’s episode is actually filled with too many drinks to count. The issue is that I’ve covered most of them.
Every single one of these are shown in this week’s episode, but what is really featured, is the aftermath. So, pick a drink you like from the list and drink it to your livers desire, and then on friday morning follow these guidelines:
We’ve established that after a night of heavy drinking, you’ve become something that resembles a California raisin. You’re dehydrated and are wearing nothing but a pair of sneakers and sunglasses, because it literally hurts your brain to look at a world full of color.
Start drinking water, and lots of it. But not just water. How about some water that can replenish the salts, sugars, and electrolytes that you also pissed out last night? That’s right. Gatorade. Sports drinks actually find their best use here, by replenishing a whole host of things you lost the night before. Everything but your innocence.
About that headache. DON’T. TAKE. ACETAMINOPHEN. It does not react well with alcohol, thus in the long term, taking acetaminophen (Tylenol, Excedrin, etc.) to treat hangovers, will destroy your liver. Instead, take aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Bayer, St. Joseph’s, etc.) . It’ll do your body better.
You could also use some protein, so how about a big mess of eggs. Besides having energy, they also contain large amounts of cysteine (a chemical that likes to hang out with glutathione), which helps break down acetaldehyde like a gitmo prisoner.
In the fruit category, things high in potassium would be nice, so bananas or kiwi would do you some good. Did I mention water? Holy shit snacks water. Actually, how about you combine the fruit and the water, and drink a gallon of fruit juice? OH! or an even better idea:
- 1.5 cups of red Gatorade (or whatever kind you like)
- 3 kiwi (peeled, sliced)
- 1 banana (peeled, sliced, frozen)
- 0.5 cup of fresh strawberries (sliced)
- ice cubes if needed
For an even healthier version, substitute coconut water for the sports drink. Don’t use flavored varieties, but just plain old, unaltered coconut water. It’s packed with electrolytes and natural sugars that are far better for you, and easier for your body to absorb than the artificial kind.
Put all the ingredients into a blender, and start it on lowest setting, slowly crank up the speed, until completely blended (this should take about 2 minutes)
So there ya go. Next time you wake up feeling like death, eat an omelet, drink a smoothie, pound a bit of aspirin, pour endless amounts of water into your face.
Drink more cocktails.