The BRAT Diet: What Does It Consist Of?
The BRAT diet is an eating protocol that’s been created with the aim of fighting hangovers. Alcohol intoxication generates an alteration in human physiology, which can trigger great discomfort that affects a person’s well-being. Knowing how to act from a nutritional point of view is key when it comes to accelerating recovery.
Just the same, although the BRAT diet manages to improve hangover symptoms, it’s best to avoid reaching such a point in the first place. Today, we know that alcohol is a toxic substance regardless of the amount we consume. Therefore, its intake should be avoided in order to prevent health problems.
What causes a hangover?
The BRAT diet has been created with the aim of alleviating the symptoms of a hangover, but first, we need to understand its pathophysiology. In fact, this process is produced by an accumulation of factors. In the first place, dehydration caused by alcohol stands out, which has the ability to increase diuresis (urine release).
At the same time, there’s an accumulation of alcohol metabolites that are also capable of causing damage and altering homeostasis (balance) in the internal environment. Also, we must also consider the imbalance in terms of neurotransmitter production.
What’s more, during a hangover, we experience an increase in systemic inflammation due to the increased work that the liver must perform. At the serum level, this could be observed by a higher concentration of transaminases, which are normally elevated in habitual drinkers or in patients with liver disease.
According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, the severity of a hangover will depend on individual factors, in addition to the amount of alcohol consumed. Not everyone has the same ethanol elimination rate, or the same levels of oxidative stress after consuming this poison. Both parameters will modulate the symptoms a person experiences the next day.
The components of the BRAT diet
The first thing to be clear about is that the BRAT diet consists of four foods: Rice, bananas, applesauce, and toast. All of them are characterized by being very easy to digest, in addition to being able to provide a significant amount of carbohydrates.
Because they’re light foods, they won’t cause more stomach problems than those that already exist from excessive alcohol consumption. So, after consuming them, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience nausea unless the stomach bag is still very damaged due to the aggression you’ve subjected it to.
In the event that the body doesn’t tolerate any type of solids, it’s best to start by ensuring proper hydration. For this, you need to consume fresh mineral water, as it has rapid gastric emptying. Also, rest is recommended, as this is the best way for your body to recover.
Once you regain your appetite, you can begin to consume the aforementioned foods in moderate proportions in order to gradually contribute energy to your body. This way, your symptoms will gradually improve. However, there are other foods that can also help cure a hangover, which will discuss in greater detail below.
Mango is one of the fruits that can help eliminate alcohol from the body more quickly. This is due to the sugars that are concentrated inside. Bananas also possess this same proper, so both foods can be consumed during the hangover period in order to improve symptoms.
You should bear in mind that the mango is very easy to digest, as it stands out for its water content. This is very positive, as it also contributes to improving your state of hydration. Don’t forget that many of the symptoms you experience after alcohol consumption have to do with a loss of body water, according to a study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism.
Asparagus contains a series of amino acids and minerals in its interior that could help fight a hangover. At the same time, they’re hepatoprotective, which contributes to improving the functioning of one of the main organs attacked after alcohol consumption. This is demonstrated by an investigation published in the journal Food & Function.
The carbohydrates contained in asparagus allow the body to alleviate the damage generated in the liver, which is a great advantage in the medium term. They have an antioxidant character, as they stimulate the synthesis of glutathione, one of the endogenous compounds capable of neutralizing the formation of free radicals.
During a hangover, the body’s inflammation levels are increased. For this reason, it makes sense to consume foods that have compounds that modulate inflammatory levels, such as the omega 3 series fatty acids. These have been shown to be capable of exerting a significant effect in this regard.
Among the foods with the highest content of these lipids, special mention must be made of salmon. You should consume this fish in the context of the BRAT diet in order to increase the intake of quality fats. In addition, this food also contains vitamins B6 and B12.
One of the main hangover problems is nausea. In this context, feeding is complicated, since foods aren’t tolerated. However, there are some natural remedies that you can put in place to alleviate this problem, allowing you to get the nutrients you need.
The most effective of them all is the consumption of ginger. This root has antiemetic capabilities, according to a study published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. It’s often used to relieve nausea in pregnant women or during chemotherapy, but it’s also useful in the case of hangovers.
At the same time, it produces an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect, which allows the liver to recover more quickly and efficiently. In fact, most experts recommend including this root in your usual diet, since it’s considered to be very healthy.
In cases of hangovers where nausea’s significant, experts recommend the consumption of powdered ginger with water. This way, you ensure your tolerance to it, thus improving your condition and allowing the subsequent intake of solid foods.
Apples are foods that can also be added to the BRAT diet, due to their water and potassium content. They’re suitable for improving your hydration status when you have a hangover. In addition, they have the ability to somewhat neutralize endogenous acid production, which alleviates the signs of an upset stomach.
What’s more, they help fight diarrhea and restore damaged microbiota. This is due to the presence of pectins inside, a type of soluble fiber. According to research published in Experimental & Molecular Medicine , these compounds help increase the density of bacteria in the intestine and are considered prebiotics.
Oatmeal is capable of performing an apple-like function. It’s characterized by concentrating fibers with prebiotic potential in its interior, the so-called beta-glucans. These compounds help to revitalize the microbiota, serving as a substrate for the bacteria that inhabit the intestinal tube.
At the same time, the consumption of oats is related to a neutralization of gastrointestinal acids, which reduces hangover symptoms and helps facilitate subsequent eating. Likewise, it contains a concentrated amount of quality nutrients such as carbohydrates, B vitamins, and essential minerals.
The best solution for a hangover is avoiding alcohol consumption
You should bear in mind that a hangover occurs when you consume an excessive amount of alcohol. At the time when alcohol poisoning is produced, the body suffers severe aggression that’s reflected in the symptoms you experience the next day. It’s possible to ingest this substance in smaller proportions without experiencing a decrease in well-being in the hours that follow.
However, although moderate alcohol consumption doesn’t cause a hangover, this doesn’t mean that it can be allowed within the context of a balanced and healthy diet. When the objective is to prevent pathologies in the medium term and delay aging, exposure to the poison must be restricted as much as possible.
Although for many years, people believed that a glass of wine with meals could be beneficial for cardiovascular health, today, we know that this habit has more risks than advantages in the medium term.
The BRAT diet, a method for relieving hangovers
As discussed, it’s possible to alleviate hangover symptoms through diet. And in this regard, you’ll need to start the BRAT diet. Of course, it’s possible to include more foods than the 4 characteristic ones that it consists of, as we’ve seen. Some fruits and spices have the ability to produce a feeling of well-being internally, which is essential when you have a hangover.
However, don’t forget that after alcohol poisoning, what you need the most is rest. You’ll need to overcome these few hours of discomfort, which are inevitable no matter how much we optimize nutrition during this period. Likewise, it’ll be essential that you stay well hydrated, as this will allow you to reduce complications.
Now, a hangover is indicative of an attack on the body–an attack that shouldn’t be repeated. The fewer times you experience this process throughout your life, the better. This will reduce the risk of developing many chronic and complex pathologies that can greatly affect your health.
- Palmer E, Tyacke R, Sastre M, Lingford-Hughes A, Nutt D, Ward RJ. Alcohol Hangover: Underlying Biochemical, Inflammatory and Neurochemical Mechanisms. Alcohol Alcohol. 2019 May 1;54(3):196-203. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agz016. PMID: 30916313.
- Zhang Z, Fan S, Huang D, Xiong T, Nie S, Xie M. Polysaccharides from fermented Asparagus officinalis with Lactobacillus plantarum NCU116 alleviated liver injury via modulation of glutathione homeostasis, bile acid metabolism, and SCFA production. Food Funct. 2020 Sep 23;11(9):7681-7695. doi: 10.1039/d0fo01435d. PMID: 32901642.
- Ishihara T, Yoshida M, Arita M. Omega-3 fatty acid-derived mediators that control inflammation and tissue homeostasis. Int Immunol. 2019 Aug 23;31(9):559-567. doi: 10.1093/intimm/dxz001. PMID: 30772915.
- Marx W, Ried K, McCarthy AL, Vitetta L, Sali A, McKavanagh D, Isenring L. Ginger-Mechanism of action in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: A review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Jan 2;57(1):141-146. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2013.865590. PMID: 25848702.
- Beukema M, Faas MM, de Vos P. The effects of different dietary fiber pectin structures on the gastrointestinal immune barrier: impact via gut microbiota and direct effects on immune cells. Exp Mol Med. 2020 Sep;52(9):1364-1376. doi: 10.1038/s12276-020-0449-2. Epub 2020 Sep 10. PMID: 32908213; PMCID: PMC8080816.
- Mackus M, Loo AJV, Garssen J, Kraneveld AD, Scholey A, Verster JC. The Role of Alcohol Metabolism in the Pathology of Alcohol Hangover. J Clin Med. 2020 Oct 25;9(11):3421. doi: 10.3390/jcm9113421. PMID: 33113870; PMCID: PMC7692803.