First and foremost – When we consume alcohol, it is absorbed from our digestive tract into the blood to begin the process of breaking down. Our liver then creates enzymes to break apart the molecules in order to eliminate them from the body. The resulting byproducts are both highly toxic and known carcinogens.
The best options are:
Maintaining adequate hydration is the most important step before, during and after a night out. Ultimately, alcohol is a diuretic that causes the body to shed more water than usual. As most hangovers are the cause of dehydration, ensure you are well watered before commencing.
To maintain appropriate hydration:
The sheer processing of alcohol requires significant utilisation of endogenously stored nutrients such as vitamin B1 (Thiamin), B12, folic acid and zinc. In order to promote proper alcohol metabolism and prevent fatigue, it is important to ensure nutrient intake is sufficient. Specific nutrient and herb based supplements have demonstrated the potential to reduce alcohol related effects, but remember, always consult a reputable Nutritionist to ensure safety and efficacy.
Effective additions to enhance natural detoxification in the body:
We all know now how poor gut health is linked to a myriad of health ailments. Regular and excessive intakes of alcohol may encourage the growth of pathogenic bacteria whilst reducing the levels of healthy bacteria within the gut, causing Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
Common signs indicating you may have an imbalance include abdominal discomfort, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, fatigue and nutrient deficiencies. If you are a regular drinker, it is important to ensure you’re protecting your delicate microbiome by:
If you suspect your gut health is not up to scratch, consult a Nutritionist to help you identify the root cause.
If you make this your one golden rule – NEVER drink on an empty stomach!
Without the presence of food, the ease in which alcohol enters the bloodstream is dramatically intensified. It is better to slow the absorption by eating a small meal or snack ideally 1-2 hours prior to drinking that contains a mix of protein, carbohydrates and fiber. This will help prime the stomach and prevent the liver from working overtime.
Ideas for pre-drinking meals/snacks:
Although a regular nightcap may initially induce relaxation, it actually works in reverse by reducing the quality of your sleep. This is because alcohol disrupts the duration of our deeper and more restorative ‘REM’ sleep, often causing us to wake before truly rested. Ensure you are getting at least eight hours of sleep before and as much interrupted sleep as possible after to promote a healthy immune system and ward off any next day fatigue.
Basically, no matter the source, alcohol is alcohol. Although it is difficult to control its overall effects, it can be possible to prevent some of the additional side effects from one too many.
REMEMBER: The best way to prevent a hangover is by not drinking, so drink consciously and responsibly!
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Howland, J., Rohsenow, D. J., Allensworth-Davies, D., Greece, J., Almeida, A., Minsky, S. J., Arnedt, J. T., & Hermos, J. (2008). The incidence and severity of hangover the morning after moderate alcohol intoxication. Addiction (Abingdon, England), 103(5), 758–765. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2008.02181.x
Verster, J. C., Vermeulen, S. A., Loo, A., Balikji, S., Kraneveld, A. D., Garssen, J., & Scholey, A. (2019). Dietary Nutrient Intake, Alcohol Metabolism, and Hangover Severity. Journal of clinical medicine, 8(9), 1316. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8091316
Coppersmith, V., Hudgins, S., Stoltzfus, J. et al. (2021). The use of N-acetylcysteine in the prevention of hangover: a randomized trial. Sci Rep 11, 13397 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-92676-0
Bishehsari, F., Magno, E., Swanson, G., Desai, V., Voigt, R. M., Forsyth, C. B., & Keshavarzian, A. (2017). Alcohol and Gut-Derived Inflammation. Alcohol research : current reviews, 38(2), 163–171.Devenney, L. E., Coyle, K. B., Roth, T., & Verster, J. C. (2019). Sleep after Heavy Alcohol Consumption and Physical Activity Levels during Alcohol Hangover. Journal of clinical medicine, 8(5), 752. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8050752
CONTENT What we read, see, and engage with shapes our mindset, so it pays off to be mindful of the content we consume. Toxic and harmful influences can be disguised in a multitude of ways and can distort our perspective around our bodies and what fitness really is. Harmful content can be hidden in workouts […]