How a Nutritionist Beats a Hangover
Now nobody likes a hangover, but unfortunately, the festive period can make it challenging to avoid. The bad news is I can’t offer you a hangover “cure” BUT I can advise you on how to support your body through the process and how to minimise the effects of booze the next day. So, before you resign yourself to a dark room read on for how a nutritionist beats a hangover…
BEFORE YOU DRINK…
Alcohol depletes our antioxidant stores, so loading up through colourful plates or smoothies is helpful here. One of my favourite pre-drinking concoctions to have earlier in the day includes an antioxidant-packed smoothie with blueberries, kale, spinach, chia seeds and almond butter.
A BALANCED MEAL
Lining the stomach with a balanced meal can help to minimise the risk of a hangover. Think high in protein, colourful veggies, complex carbs and a source of healthy fats. Some good pre-booze meals could include…
- Tofu and brown rice noodle stir fry
- Veggie-packed Frittata with sweet potato
- Turkey bolognese with chickpea pasta
- Salmon, brown rice and stir-fried veggies
SUPPORT YOUR LIVER
The liver is one of the most hard-working organs in the body, having over 500 jobs including the filtration of alcohol, medication, daily toxins and food. When we overindulge, this can impact the liver’s ability to remove toxins.
Try swapping your coffee for a dandelion root tea, a root often touted as a “liver tonic”” the day before and after drinking.
Consider consuming your favourite brassica vegetables – these include broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbage. Brassica vegetables contain compounds, such as glucosinolates, which can be broken down into bioactive compounds like sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been studied for its potential to enhance the liver’s detoxification processes by promoting the production of enzymes that help eliminate harmful substances.
YOU CAN TRY SUPPLEMENTS….
Milk thistle – Contains silymarin and silybin, both active compounds which may help protect the liver. You may wish to take a milk thistle supplement before and after drinking to help support your liver as you consume booze. Please note that milk thistle is contraindicated with many medicines.
KNOW YOUR MIXER
Avoid the sugar-ladened mixers such as cranberry juice and lemonade, and don’t assume “sugar-free” versions are any better.
Instead, opt for hydrating, clear mixers such as club soda or sparkling water. And although it may sound boring, spice up your drinks with fresh fruits or veggies such as cucumber ribbons, a grapefruit wedge or a cinnamon stick.
If you really fancy that spicy marg, have it! But choose it as your first drink of the night when you are sober enough to fully enjoy it. As the next rounds follow, time to work on avoiding the hangover headache by reducing your salt and sugar intake and opting for a tequila, soda and a fresh grapefruit wedge.
ALTERNATE WITH WATER
Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it can increase urine production and contribute to dehydration. Drinking water in between each alcoholic drink will help maintain hydration levels and can help mitigate the dehydrating effects of alcohol.
Avoid the greasy pizza as this may throw your blood sugar off even more.
Instead, opt for a slice of toasted wholemeal bread with marmite, this will provide you with a small touch of B vitamins whilst satisfying that salty flavour. Paired with a non-negotiable pint of water and you’re off to bed.
HYDRATE WITH ELECTROLYTES
The following morning rehydrate with electrolyte-containing fluids to replace the lost potassium, sodium and chloride that can be lost from drinking.. I like Elyte by BodyBio available here but coconut water can also be a great choice! Also aim to consume 2-3 litres of water throughout the day.
The Hair of the dog approach may be tempting but I really wouldn’t really recommend it, stick to herbal teas, filtered water or DASH naturally flavoured sparkling water.
WHAT’S FOR BREAKFAST?
Use this opportunity to flood your body with nutrients to support it after a night on the town! And eggs are my brunch of choice. Your liver works overtime to help neutralise the toxin acetaldehyde, using an amino acid called l-cysteine. Give your liver a helping hand by having l-cysteine rich eggs for breakfast. Paired with avocado and a thick slice of seeded sourdough and you’ve got yourself a nourishing hangover cure.
CALM THE STOMACH
Feeling sick to your stomach? Ginger can help with reducing nausea, why not brew some fresh ginger tea to sip on or add some grated ginger to your cold water as a refreshing wake-up call.
After the recovery process, getting some fresh air can help you perk up. I’d recommend a walk outside, a gentle swim or a leisurely bike ride. Try to avoid doing anything too strenuous the day after heavy drinking, as it can put more stress on your body.
Having a hot soak can be a nice relief for aching muscles. Adding 1-2 cups of Epsom salts to your bath can give you a magnesium and sulphur boost. These minerals are absorbed through your skin whilst you soak. Aim to soak for 15-20 minutes. After your bath, relax and rehydrate with a sleepy tea and you’ll feel like yourself in no time!