It is a well known fact that alcohol is toxic to the body however, in this day and age it can be hard to avoid indulging in a night out of drinking. We all know it but sometimes it is hard to consume alcohol in moderation due to external pressures.
Alcohol is readily absorbed through our entire gastrointestinal tract, travels unaltered in our bloodstream until it’s metabolized in our tissues causing oxidative stress (particularly in the liver). One of the by-products of the degradation of ethanol is acetaldehyde – a highly toxic and carcinogenic substance, which is thought to be responsible for the ‘hangover’.
Excessive alcohol consumption can have detrimental effects on the body, this includes (but is not limited to):
· Fatty liver
· Lactic acidosis
· Hepatic disease (cirrhosis)
· Malnutrition (particularly vitamin B3)
· Insulin resistance
· Weight gain (specifically central adiposity)
· Neurological damage
· Damage to reproductive organs
Unfortunately, hangovers are hard to treat as they are inevitable with drinking however you can minimize the occurrence and severity of the suffering by following simple measures.
· Choose your drink of choice wisely – red wine and dark spirits are the worst offenders due to the presence of fermentable additives and preservatives. Distilled vodka and soda water is a better option and are lower in kilojoules. Avoid high sugar mixers such as coca-cola, energy drinks, lemonade and juices as the sugar will contribute to your ill feelings the next day. Preservative-free wine and organic spirits are a better alternative.
· Take a vitamin B-complex – as the metabolism of alcohol saturates enzyme pathways requiring vitamin B3, it is often deficient in alcohol abusers. B vitamins are also good for an energy boost. Foods high in vitamin B include wholegrains, dark leafy greens such as spinach.
· Stay hydrated! Alcohol is a diuretic therefore you’re losing more fluid with every drink you consume, drink a glass of water between alcoholic beverages and plenty of water (at least a large glass full) before sleep to flush out your system and stay hydrated. You will feel a lot more refreshed upon waking.
· Consider taking a liver antioxidant before drinking – St. Mary’s Thistle (Milk Thistle) is a liver restorative herb that can protect against alcohol-induced liver damage. Green tea and Ginkgo are another two great antioxidant herbs that protect against tissue damage from induced toxins.
· Avoid the greasy late night feed but instead choose a lower G.I carbohydrate meal – if you are going to choose a kebab, avoid the cheese, sour cream and BBQ sauce and get plenty of lettuce, tomato and onion! Don’t give in to temptation of the fast food drive-thru..
· Last but not least… try to avoid a drinking marathon, enjoy being sociable but stay responsible J
If you would like to read more on the potential long-term effects of binge drinking – I urge you to click on the links below.