While that last tequila shooter with the co-workers seemed like a good idea at the time, the next morning might prove otherwise. The holidays provide endless justifiable excuses for overindulgence, particularly for food and alcohol, and hangovers are just one of the side effects.
What we call a hangover - headaches, nausea, and sensitivity to light
and sound following excessive alcohol consumption - is the end result of
dehydration and toxicity. If adequate measures are taken while alcohol
is being consumed or before going to bed, hangover symptoms might be
One of the best preventative measures is to drink at least one glass of
water for every alcoholic drink. Alcohol's diuretic effect removes four
times more fluid than is consumed. The dehydration causes the brain to
shrink slightly, pulling on membranes connecting it to the skull and
instigating the intense day-after headaches. Drink two to three large
glasses of water before going to bed.
Along with lost fluids, alcohol depletes essential minerals and
electrolytes, including potassium. Taken before bed, a sports drink
serves double duty, providing both hydration and lost electrolytes.
Eating potassium-rich foods also helps; try kidney beans, a baked
potato, cantaloupe, bananas, dried fruit, or asparagus.
The breakdown of alcohol in the liver results in the generation of free
radicals and toxic compounds, including acetaldehyde, a poisonous
metabolic byproduct of alcohol metabolism responsible for many of the
symptoms of a hangover. In the liver, glutathione, a protein with
antioxidant activity, aids in the detoxification and removal of harmful
toxins, including acetaldehyde.
Milk thistle, a medicinal plant, increases glutathione levels in the
body, and more than 150 clinical studies have shown its ability as an
antioxidant to protect and regenerate liver cells, even after alcohol
abuse. Take 10 to 20 drops of milk thistle tincture with water either
before or during alcohol consumption or before going to bed. Tinctures
or capsules are available at your local natural products store.
You can also combat acetaldehyde with bifidus probiotics, a beneficial
bacteria that help to re-colonize the intestinal tract. A teaspoon of
Bifidus powder in a glass of water taken before bed will do the trick.
There are also patented commercial formulas available which are specifically designed to thwart post-celebration misery.
GTOX the Hangover Blocker is a detox shot that you drink before bed.
GTOX attaches itself to alcohol molecules for faster removal from the
liver, averting hangover symptoms altogether. The product's main
ingredient, glucarate, a natural plant compound, helps the liver
eliminate certain chemicals and hormones.
The ionizing footbath, a popular form of detoxification, may also help
reduce hangover symptoms. While the science behind this form of
hydrotherapy remains a little sketchy, its proponents swear by it. As
your feet soak in the footbath, positively and negatively charged ions
generated by a device placed in the water attach to toxic substances,
including the breakdown products of alcohol, neutralizing and releasing
them through the pores on the soles of the feet. As the detoxification
process occurs, the water changes to a murky color. Drink plenty of
water following a treatment to avoid further dehydration.
Magnetic therapy products, available as bracelets, shoe insoles,
mattress pads and more, might also be worth a try. Stacey Grieve, a
consultant at Nikken, a company that manufactures magnetic wellness
products, says magnets can help mitigate the side effects of a hangover.
"Magnets placed over the temples will help to decrease a hangover
headache; and magnets worn over the low back or soles of the feet will
help to decrease any discomfort caused from dancing the night away," she
While coffee sounds like the perfect morning-after solution to a long
night of decadence, caffeine also has a dehydrating effect and can
exacerbate the severity of hangover symptoms. Instead, take a
combination of naturally energizing and detoxifying nutrients, including
a B-complex vitamin, spirulina or chlorella, or a fresh-pressed
vegetable juice that includes dark leafy greens.
Whatever method you choose to alleviate your hangover symptoms this
holiday season, always remember to be safe, and never drink and drive.
Published in the Chicago Tribune
My name is Lisa Tsakos, Registered Holistic Nutritional Consultant, corporate speaker and author. This blog provides professional advice from a nutrition and weight loss expert (me!) about corporate and family health. Here you'll find recipes and articles that address work-related challenges like eating on-the-go and maximizing your productivity with the right foods. You'll also find out about how you can help your children develop strong immune systems and healthy bodies. As a nutrition instructor, I often found myself thinking, "When I have kids, this is how I will feed them." With two toddlers, I have the opportunity to practice what I have been preaching and to try out my theories. So far, they seem to be working! Follow me on my journey and also on Twitter @NuVitalityHW.
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