Tis the season to be merry.
Here are my tips for how to get into the spirit of things this festive season without suffering too many nasty after-effects.
Line your stomach before going out. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Delay the absorption of alcohol by eating a meal beforehand. A meal that contains fat will be most effective. Do as they do in Italy and drink a little olive oil before partying to line the stomach. Take a good multi supplement before and after drinking to keep nutrient levels up. The nutrients needed most for hangover prevention are B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, cysteine, taurine and the omega 3 and 6 essential fats.
Drink slowly. Keep pace with the liver’s ability to detoxify alcohol – that’s roughly one small glass (or unit) an hour. Ideally don’t drink any more than 3 to 4 units in total (that’s not much more than a pint of average strength lager or two medium glasses of wine or champagne). Not going to happen? Then alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water to prevent serious dehydration the next day. Every glass of alcohol requires nearly two glasses of water to rehydrate you. No good? Keep nibbling to counteract some of the effects. Carry some nuts, seeds and dried berries in your bag. Or how about a pickled herring?
Pickled herring. According to Keith Floyd, pickled herring are extremely good at neutralising the effects of alcohol. He recommends eating the odd fillet after each drink to wake up feeling refreshed and relatively unscathed by the ravages of drink. He warns however that you may be in for a fairly solitary evening.
Drink a large half and half glass of water and grapefruit juice before you go to bed. Grapefruit juice slows the rate that the liver detoxifies alcohol and this is often a good thing. The first phase in alcohol detoxification changes alcohol into the far more toxic chemical acetaldehyde and this is responsible for some of the worst symptoms of a hangover. Not only that, but this process also increases the production of free radicals, unstable molecules that rampage through your system increasing inflammation and tissue damage. If the second phase can’t keep up you are going to get a backlog of toxic chemicals and increased free radical damage. Acetaldehyde is then changed into acetic acid (vinegar) before leaving the body. So your grapefruit juice and water slows the build-up of acetaldehyde and free radicals, allowing your body to deal with alcohol detoxification at a steadier pace. Even better, stir in a teaspoon of turmeric and a teaspoon of chlorella-rich greens – curcumin, found in turmeric, slows phase I and stimulates phase II liver detoxification, and counteracts free radicals; and chlorella helps to absorb and remove toxins coming into the gut from the liver.
The Day After Pick-me-ups
- Replace fluids and electrolytes. Coconut water and watermelon juice are good.
- Try a cup of hot water and lemon juice. Lemons are sharply acidic but are strongly alkalising once in the body. They help to mop up all the acids that will be flooding the system after a heavy night. Cider vinegar in warm water will do the same thing.
- If the stomach is feeling too acidic to take that, try having a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in water first.
- Eat a good breakfast to refuel, energy stores will be depleted after a heavy session. Eggs are great. They contain lots of B vitamins and cysteine, which help to neutralise acetaldehyde. Many traditional hangover cures contain a raw egg yolk. A Prairie Oyster is an eye-watering combination of raw egg yolk, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and angostura bitters, usually mixed with a hair of the dog like a shot of brandy or vodka – that should bring you back to the land of the living!
- Watermelon juice is packed full of water, sugar and nutrients that help the liver. Blend the flesh and seeds and drink.
- Get your greens in. Vegetables like broccoli, sprouts and dark leafy greens are especially good for the second phase of liver detoxification.
- Super Smoothie Detox Drink: a few dark green leafy veg leaves; a handful or two of dark berries; 1/2 peeled beetroot; 1/2 organic non-waxed lemon with pith and peel; 1 tsp turmeric; 1 tsp cocoa powder; coconut water. Whizz up and enjoy. A powerful blend of nutrients that help to support liver detoxification, reduce free radicals and replace electrolytes.