Most people do not wake up in the morning and think “tonight, I’m gonna ‘tie one on’!” Yet many people do have a hunch when they are destined to drink one too many.
When you’re lucky enough to have that insight, here are a few things that you can do to alleviate the chances of a hangover. More importantly, a few simple actions taken before, during, and after drinking alcohol can help lessen its damaging effects on your body and your liver—a critical organ of good health.
Drinking alcohol is not recommended, nor good for your health. Yet, for those who choose to drink, this article may transform your way of doing so.
Before you drink
Drink plenty of water throughout the day before an evening of drinking. On a typical day you should drink about half of your body weight in ounces. Consuming an additional 2-4 eight-ounce glasses of water can help alleviate the dehydration effects associated with drinking alcohol.
Pack in Nutrition
Eat plenty of real nutrition throughout the day and definitely eat a good dinner before you drink. Drinking on an empty stomach is a recipe for a disaster—and a definite for a hangover.
B-vitamins, particularly B6, are said to ease hangover effects. Alcohol depletes the body of B-vitamins which are ironically necessary to remove alcohol from the body. Therefore, taking quality B-vitamins before and after drinking can help your body eliminate alcohol and its unpleasant after-effects. Bee pollen is a great source of B-vitamins.
Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the “alcohol-induced oxidative stress in your liver.” Supplementing with vitamin C before you drink and again before bedtime may prove beneficial.
Glutathione & NAC
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant critical to liver detoxification. When the liver processes alcohol, it creates a much more toxic by-product called acetaldehyde. When you drink too much alcohol, it depletes glutathione levels, hampering the liver’s ability to detoxify. This creates an acetaldehyde build-up leading to toxic hangover effects. Supplementing with glutathione or NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), known to increase glutathione levels and reduce acetaldehyde toxicity, is therefore a very wise step.
200 mg of NAC 30 minutes before you drink may ward off many of alcohol’s negative effects—temporary and permanent. For example, in the case of Tylenol overdose NAC is administered in the emergency room for this very reason—to replenish glutathione levels and diminish permanent liver damage.
Alcohol and sugar both feed yeast and candida. Therefore, it is wise to take extra probiotics, in the form of cultured foods or capsules, to help balance out this effect. This is especially important for individuals with candida and yeast-related issues.
During your drinking
Drinking a glass of water for each alcoholic beverage consumed can work wonders. Ideally, alternate one glass of water in between each alcoholic drink.
Stay clear of sodas and mixers
Do not drink mixed drinks made with carbonated beverages or mixers. Alcohol consumption causes the body to leach vital nutrients, particularly electrolytes and minerals, causing serious dehydration. Carbonated mixed drinks compound alcohol’s dehydration effects and further assault your body with more damaging agents to contend with. Carbonated drinks are never a good idea.
Have you ever heard of the soda remedy for removing corrosion from a car battery? The mere fact that a carbonated beverage, such as soda, destroys corrosion build-up on a battery is evidence enough of its damaging effects. Witnessing this with your own eyes may be helpful if you have a soda addiction.
Mixers are trouble too. They include a lot of unnecessary ingredients, none of them good for you. Instead, choose mixed drinks made from the juice of fresh squeezed fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, or limes. A skinny margarita will always treat you kinder than that which drips from a frozen margarita machine.
“Vodka water please”
Choose water as your mix. Once you get used to it (just like you got used to the taste of alcohol), a Johnny Walker and water or vodka water can taste equally as good as one mixed with coke or sprite—and way better for your body. If your beverage must fizz—a quality sparkling water such as Pellegrino or Perrier is your best bet.
All fizzy waters are not created equal. For example, club soda, tonic water, and mineral water are types of carbonated water, but each has either added sodium, sweeteners, or synthetic vitamins—they are not of the same quality for hydration and otherwise as is a pure sparkling water.
Winos have more fun, and better health
Wine is a better option than liquor, and beer in moderation can be too. An organic sulfite-free wine is your best choice especially due to the fact that research has shown wine (in moderation) to have some benefits to the body such as resveratrol. A wheat/gluten free beer is also a better option than hard liquor for most people, particularly if not chugged to the point of creating the infamous beer gut. Those are never attractive.
The lighter the alcohol, the lighter the hangover load. The darker the alcohol (brandy, rum, and red wine) the higher the congeners. Congeners are the by-product of alcohol’s fermentation process, which are largely responsible for hangover effects. The clearer the alcohol, the better. For example, vodka which is highly distilled contain less congeners, as does white wine, and may lessen the odds of a hangover. A potato-based vodka is by far your best choice for liquor.
Drinking a high quality liquor is always better than drinking from the bottom of the barrel. Stay away from well liquors.
Choose your nectar (or poison) and stick to it. It’s best to choose one type of alcohol and not mix it up. Choose a single type of liquor, or beer, or wine and enjoy it. Mixing is asking for trouble.
Do not drink more than a drink per hour. That’s about the max your body can properly metabolize at its best. When you feel a “buzz” it’s time to chill. It’s a sign that your body cannot effectively process the alcohol, slow down and let it catch up.
After you’re done drinking
Support your liver and kidneys
Pure organic cranberry juice—not from concentrate, can help your liver and kidneys tackle the toxic load. When you drink alcohol you’re asking your liver and kidneys to work overtime, so give it some extra love. Consume some pure cranberry the evening before you drink and definitely before bed. Mix pure cranberry juice with cultured coconut water for extra hydration and probiotics.
Do not confuse the typical juice found in a bar-mixed drink with real pure fruit juice. Ordering a vodka/cranberry at a bar is not doing you any favors. Dumping added sugar on top of your alcohol, is not required, nor advised. Yet, if you must, stick with the real deal. Most so-called “juices” contain very little juice. If you don’t already know this, educating yourself on how to read food labels is priceless.
Replenishing potassium, magnesium, and other minerals lost due to alcohol consumption, can be as easy as eating a banana, or drinking fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh lemon water, or a quality electrolyte drink. The “Electro-Mix” version of Emergency’s electrolyte drink is fructose-free and therefore a good option, especially if you are dealing with Candida or Diabetic issues. Coconut water, preferably raw (non-pasteurized), or fresh juiced celery or cucumbers are some of your best options.
Hot ginger tea with lemon can help soothe an upset stomach or nausea.
Water, water, water
Consume as much water as possible at the end of the evening before you go to bed. A liter will often get the job done. At minimum drink at least two 8 oz. glasses before you get horizontal. Continue to drink plenty of water the morning after regardless of how you feel.
Beginning each and every morning with a glass of room temperature water with fresh lemon juice or Braggs’s Apple Cider Vinegar is always a smart move, and especially after a night of adult beverages.
Lastly, don’t believe the hype
First, come to terms with the fact that there is no real cure for a hangover. In fact, the most famous hangover cures cause more harm than good. An aspirin before bed, a greasy ‘morning-after’ meal, or the ‘hair of the dog’ are all fallacies. In fact, taking pain relievers on top of alcohol consumption (aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen) can cause damage to your liver.
If the reasonable action steps offered above are daunting to you, then consider your final two options.
1- Stay home. If your evening plans induce an environment that leads to you drinking life a fish, just say “no”.
2- Be a hero. Offer to be the designated driver.
Ok, so you’re not a lush, nor a party pooper. Then there’s one more option.
Become a conscious drinker. A conscious drinker is one who drinks, but not to the point of becoming intoxicated. There is a fine line here. But if you know how to walk the line, the odds are you will never have a hangover.
While you’re mastering the art of conscious drinking, utilizing the above guidelines can reduce or eliminate the hangover woes—while adding a few years to your life.
Your liver, the “master” organ of all other body organs, is the driver–of them (vital organs)—and the condition of your health. When it is compromised (like a drunk driver) it leads you into all types of trouble just like a night out on the town without a designated driver.
The actions you take before and during alcohol consumption are much more powerful than anything you can do after the damage is done—so again, think before you drink!
And don’t ever make the mistake of driving after drinking. These helpful solutions won’t raise you from the dead (or anyone else you may encounter) if you get into a life ending (or altering) car accident.