The party season is well and truly here and while we are not going to tell you that drinking too much alcohol is good for your health we do realise that it’s easy even for the most determined of us to get carried away and wake up the next morning feeling fragile.
It’s not so much the alcohol that leads to hangover symptoms but some of the chemicals the alcohol is metabolised into such as acetaldehyde . Alcohol is also a diuretic leading to a loss of electrolytes and dehydration all which give us that terrible headache. Furthermore alcohol depletes us of specific vitamins and nutrients many of which are needed for energy production and to help our liver detoxify the acetaldehyde, so the loss of these further contributes to the fatigue and headachey feeling of a typical hangover.
The good news is that by adding in nutrients that help your body combat the effects of alcohol you can lessen the severity of your hangover. Here are some easy to implement tips.
At the Party:
Know your limits
Sounds fairly obvious but work out how much is too much for you. Some people may feel awful after just a few drinks while others don’t seem to be affected even after copious amounts. Body weight, age, gender, whether you have recently eaten recently, even the type of alcohol you drink will affect the severity of your symptoms. Know your limits and keep to them, don’t try and keep up with everyone else.
Be Picky with your drinks
Ever noticed that you feel fine on white wine but not on red? This is because different types of alcohol can produce different hangover symptoms according to the level of congeners they contain. Congeners are a by-product of fermentation in some alcohol and vary in concentration in alcoholic drinks. Studies show that drinks with higher levels of congeners can trigger more hangovers. As a rule of thumb drinks darker in colour such as red wine whisky, brandy, port etc have the greater amount while white wine, vodka, gin, rum have less so choosing these may reduce the severity of the hangover.
Keep Hydrated Alcohol is a diuretic so a big night can cause dehydration making that headache even worse the next day. Aim to alternate between at least one glass of water and an alcoholic drink during the evening
Before Going to Bed
Try Vitamin C Before Bed.
Vitamin C is needed by your liver to help detoxify alcohol and so a sneaky trick is to buy some good quality buffered Vitamin C and drink so drink 1 glass of water with Vitamin C (1g is a good dose).
Try Coconut Water Before going to Bed
Being dehydrated will simply exacerbate your symptoms further. A great option is Coconut water – not only rich in Vitamin C but also rich in electrolytes sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium, which are depleted after a night of drinking. So before you go to bed have a couple of glasses of coconut water to support detoxification. Keep drinking it the next day too or use some electrolyte tablets.
The morning after
Sleep it Off
If you can! Alcohol can disrupt blood sugar and result in poor sleep but poor sleep will only exacerbate hangover symptoms so try and grab as much sleep as possible.
While you may not feel like eating the morning after it can help reduce your hangover symptoms. Even if you can’t face a full breakfast having a protein based snack will help stabilise blood sugar and replenish depleted nutrients. Low blood sugar could also contribute to some hangover symptoms, such as nausea and fatigue.
Good breakfast foods:
Banana – Excessive alcohol can diminish carbohydrate levels and deplete magnesium and B vitamins. Bananas are useful source of B6, potassium, magnesium and quick releasing carbs to perk you up. To help balance your blood sugar try banana topped on oat cakes, which are a great source of slow releasing carbohydrate and soluble fibre to boost flagging energy levels.
Eggs -Eggs contains an amino acid called N acetyl cysteine, a building block of a crucial antioxidant called glutathione which is key in helping the body to metabolise and get rid of the toxins from alcohol. Protein will also help support energy levels through the morning. If you can try some scrambled eggs or an omelette with some spinach or mushrooms.
Oats – are another good source of B vitamins and magnesium which are needed to help pick your energy levels up. Oats can also help stabilise blood sugar levels which can be out of balance after a drinking session
Later In the Day
Try to replenish the nutrients depleted by alcohol. Here are some foods you could include to do this.
Berries & Citrus Fruits -Apart from depleting your body of nutrients particularly vitamin C, A and B vitamins alcohol can lead to low blood sugar levels, which may leave you feeling weak and shaky. Counteract this by trying to put these vitamins back in your body Eat an orange or have a bowl of berries as these are both full of Vitamin C which acts as an antioxidant to protect your body from the effects of alcohol and they also contain B Vitamins for energy
Watermelon - Not only is it a great way to hydrate yourself but watermelon is also full of Vitamin C, B and Magnesium which alcohol robs us of and a fabulous source of antioxidants.
Ginger - Hangovers are often accompanied by an upset stomach. Ginger contains chemicals called gingerols that relax the intestinal tract, relieving nausea and stomach cramps. If you feel sick try some ginger tea or water with a ginger cordial.
Baked potato – A very British choice of food but if you feel sick these are a good
choice as they are relatively bland so wont upset your stomach further and are rich in vitamin B6 plus potassium ( especially if you eat the skin ) Et with a protein source to support blood sugar levels.