You can feel the party vibe in the air. This time of year is when our healthy diets and lifestyles can easily go out the window and we can be especially prone to overindulging in unhealthy foods and alcohol. Following these simple pre-party steps will help look after your health as best you can this New Year’s Eve, and prevent those dreaded next day hangover symptoms. Taking certain nutrients and herbs, and eating particular foods will help protect you from the harmful effects of drinking too much alcohol.
Play it safe this party period by following these 12 simple tips.
EAT BEFORE YOU DRINK: Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach, always eat something nutritious before you head out. This will slow down the absorption of alcohol into your blood stream. When drinking, avoid snacking on deep fried foods like hot chips and pizza and go for healthy snacks such as dips with crackers and breads, olives and mezza plates, nuts, and grilled seafood.
DRINK SLOWLY: Play it safe and try to stick to one alcoholic drink an hour. This will give your liver time to ‘detox’ the alcohol properly, and prevent a build-up of alcohol in your blood. Ways to help you do this is to order nips in a schooner glass of soda water so it lasts longer, and drinking a glass of water or a non-alcoholic drink in-between alcoholic ones.
AVOID DEHYDRATION: Alcohol is one of the major causes of dehydration. We lose fluid and important electrolytes such as magnesium and potassium every time we have a drink. Those common hangover symptoms – the headache, dry mouth, thirst and nausea – are all symptoms of dehydration. The best way to combat dehydration is to drink plenty of water when you are out and have an electrolyte drink before you go to bed. Resist having a ‘hair of the dog’ or coffee the next morning to help heal your hangover. Instead go for electrolyte drinks or coconut water (which is naturally rich in electrolytes). A fresh veggie juice or banana smoothie is also a good way to soothe unsettled tummies.
TAKE B VITAMINS: The body uses up a considerable amount of nutrients when processing alcohol, including B vitamins. If you are low in B vitamins this elimination process will be impaired and will prolong alcohol levels in your system. By increasing vitamin B-rich foods and taking a complex B supplement daily you will be ensuring that your vitamin B levels are adequate to deal with any increase in alcohol intake. Some of the richest sources of B vitamins include wholegrains, legumes, avocado, nuts, seeds and red meat.
UP YOUR ANTIOXIDANTS: Drinking alcohol leads to an increase in free radical production, resulting in damage to cells in the body. Increasing your antioxidant intake is the best way to combat this. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which is found in oranges and other citrus fruits, berries, guava, rose hip tea and parsley. Other rich sources of antioxidants include berries such as acai and blueberries, green and white tea, tomatoes and other red and orange fruits and vegies. Other important antioxidant nutrients that help neutralize the damaging effects of alcohol include vitamin E, glutathione, and selenium.
LIVER PROTECTION WITH ST MARY’S THISTLE: The herb St Mary’s thistle helps protect liver cells from alcohol-induced damage, and enhances liver detoxification, helping to remove toxins such as alcohol from the body. Take some St Mary’s thistle tablets daily over the party season.
NUX VOM: Nux vomica is a great homeopathic remedy for anyone who likes to overindulge in alcohol and food. This remedy can help relieve hangover symptoms such as nausea and headaches. Take 5 drops of Nux Vomica 30C, every hour until symptoms improve. Available from health food stores.
CHLORELLA: This super sea algae has been shown to help remove toxic substances from the body, including promoting the detoxification of alcohol. Chlorella may also help reduce hangover symptoms. Take around 5 g of chlorella before heading out drinking.
GINGER: Try ginger to help ease hangover symptoms, it’s soothing for the digestive tract and helps to relieve nausea. Try chilled ginger tea with some lemon or add fresh ginger to a vegie juice.
TAKE A MULTI-VITAMIN: Alcohol depletes important nutrients from the body such as vitamin C, magnesium and zinc. Taking a good quality multi-vitamin daily is a good way to help replete your body of these essential vitamins and minerals and protect your general health.
EAT GARLIC: Garlic contains an amino acid called S-allyl-cysteine, which neutralizes acetaldehyde, a highly reactive by-product of alcohol metabolism.
EAT YOGHURT: Eating probiotic-rich foods such as yoghurt and taking a probiotic supplement daily will help boost good intestinal bacteria, which can be disrupted when you drink too much alcohol.