The holidays are a time for celebrations, parties and fun times with family and friends. And let's be honest, alcohol is usually making an appearance too. We've likely all had those nights where we end up drinking more than we should... so here are some tips to help prevent those unwanted holiday hangovers!
1. Eat a good meal before hand
Heading to a party without a proper meal is a recipe for disaster! Alcohol is absorbed quickly through our stomach (approximately 20%) and small intestine (80%). Without food in place to buffer and slow absorption, alcohol will be absorped rapidly and you will likely have a much lower alcohol tolerance and a wicked hangover the next morning to boot.
2. Avoid the sugar and caffeine filled drinks
Stay clear of sweetened mixed drinks, sugary cocktails and energy drinks. Alcohol on its own is hard on the liver (our main detoxification organ). Adding in sugar and caffeine on top of that is just asking for trouble (and a splitting headache).
3. Instead, choose clear liquors or red wine
These are better options for preventing a nasty hangover. Choose clear liquors and mix with soda or water to keep the sugar content down, or opt for red wine which actually contains loads of antioxidants that can help combat (some) of the hardship on your liver.
4) Prime your detox pathways with N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and B vitamins
NAC is an amino acid that helps the liver detoxify alcohol and replenish glutathione (or GSH). GSH is one of the most potent antioxidants and is depleted when our liver is under stress. Essentially, more glutathione = less hangover. Our liver also needs B vitamins to metabolize alcohol properly (and alcoholism can lead to severely depleted B vitamins). So, increase your B vitamins before and after a night out to help your liver keep up.
5) Consider IV Therapy
Intravenous therapy is a serious home-run when it comes to preventing and recovering from hangovers. You may have seen IV clinics pop up in cities like Vegas and New York to help the partying elite bounce back after a night of too many soda pops. This is because IV therapy contains ultra high doses of all the nutrients and vitamins your body needs to help detoxify alcohol at a rapid rate. IV therapy also hydrates the body AND we can even give glutathioine directly for a serious antioxidant boost.
6) Pace yourself, and don't forget to hydrate!
The liver can only metabolize about 1 ounce (or 1 drink) per hour. If you're drinking at a more rapid rate, your blood alcohol levels will rise. So pace yourself and give your liver a chance to keep up! It's also a good idea to follow each alcoholic drink with a glass of water to keep yourself well hydrated throughout the night and next day. Many of the "hangover" symptoms we experience are due to dehydration, so the more we can do to prevent it from happening, the better!
It's important to remember...
Alcohol IS a toxin and can result in many health (and life) consequences. Be good to your body and know your limits. These tips are intended to be used sparingly to help your body bounce back from the occasional night out, not to encourage unhealthy habits.
Dr. Katie Rothwell, ND