Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Healthy hangover tips

Last week a reader sent me an email asking,

"What are some nutritious answers to the hangover? What to eat before, during, after..."

GREAT question. I jumped all over this one.

When you've indulged in one, two, or a LOT too many, you've usually got a big headache waiting for you the next morning. Even when you ate greasy diner food after the bar, you still feel crappy in the morning. Why?

Alcohol is a dieuretic. It causes your body to take water from different areas and deposit the water in your bladder. Also, heavy drinking can affect nearly every system in your body for up to 24 hours! And in this process, you also lose important vitamins and minerals such as B6, magnesium, and potassium.

One of the biggest storehouses of water in your body is your brain. So when you wake up with that big headache, your brain is screaming out of thirst. Also, if you had wine or sugary cocktails, your brain and your muscles hate you for the fluctation of blood sugar levels. Up with the drinks, crashing down by morning.

Your best defense is as follows:

1. Always eat a hearty meal BEFORE drinking. This will coat the stomach and prevent the alcohol from being readily digested and absorbed. This works better than eating a big meal before bedtime. Food isn't going to just soak up all the alcohol you drank because the drinks will have already gone in your system, and it will be too late.

2. Drink tons of water before, during, and after drinking. For an extra bonus, also drink coconut water which is full of electrolytes such as potassium, and doesn't contain nearly as much sugar as Gatorade.

3. The morning and day after, eat plenty of foods that are high in the vitamins and minerals that alcohol usually depletes. So eating bananas, tuna, nuts, and beans will replenish your B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium. Also try eggs, which have cysteine, an amino acid that breaks down the acetaldehyde (from the alcohol you drank) in your liver.

4. You can also try taking B vitamins, or even better, the supplement chlorella. It is a blue-green algae that is extremely detoxifying, and will help remove toxins from your intestines and liver. Also high in B vitamins and protein, it will boost your energy and combat sugar cravings. And milk thistle is another good supplement for detoxing the liver.

5. If you're hungry after the partying, make sure to have a small snack at the end of the night to help with the blood sugar levels. I know everyone usually goes for pizza or diner food, but even just a banana with peanut butter or a bowl of cereal would help. Something with fiber and lots of nutrition.

Action step: Look at your calendar and see what social events are coming up. Will there be alcohol? What tips from above can you implement to make sure you wake up refreshed the morning after?

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