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Looks at the effects of alcohol on the various systems of the body describing the symptoms of a hangover and why they happen. Gives tips for before, during and after drinking to help minimize the effects and prevent hangovers.

There are certain steps you can take before, during and after drinking to help minimize alcohols negative effects and prevent hangovers.

On The Big Night Out

  • Always eat a substantial meal before you drink to help line the stomach.
  • Keep hydrated. As a general rule, drink one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you take. Try alternating your alcoholic drinks with water.
  • Be careful not to mix your drinks. It’s better to try sticking to one type of alcoholic drink for the night.
  • Substances called congeners found in red wine and coloured spirits can exacerbate a hangover. White wine and clear spirits like vodka tend to have a lesser effect.
  • It is not advised to drink if you have a sensitive stomach or if you have been taking been taking any anti-biotic, anti-anxiety, barbiturate and sedative medications, or if you use recreational drugs.

When You Get Home

  • Have some fruit juice or a glucose based drink before bed to push the blood sugar up. Ideally choose something with a good electrolyte concentration too as it speeds up hydration. A glucose plus electrolyte sports drinks, rehydration solution or coconut water are good choices. . 
  • It is best not to take paracetamol or ibuprofen based painkillers for hangover prevention. These drugs are metabolised with alcohol in the liver and just place extra stress on the liver. Also, avoid take Aspirin too with alcohol, as it can damage the stomach lining.

The Morning After

If you hadn’t taken the precautionary steps, and you wake up with a hangover, try the following to help ease the pain:

  • Eat something light. Although many people go for fatty foods when hangover, its actually better to avoid too much fat, especially if you have had an upset stomach. Eggs are a good choice as they are rich in cysteine, which helps the liver metabolise alcohol. Tomato and tomato juice are also great as they contain many of the many of the minerals and vitamins that alcohol depletes. Stick to lean proteins like chicken breast, white fish or lean meat and bland carbohydrates like plain pasta, crackers or toast.
  • Hydrate by drinking water, glucose and electrolytes.
  • Take a sauna or steam bath or do some vigorous exercise. This helps induce sweating and can speed up toxin elimination from the body. Just make sure you are adequately hydrated before you do this.
  • Grate some fresh ginger in hot water or drink some ginger tea to help with nausea. Lemon water also helps neutralize an acidic stomach post drinking.
  • Supplements can also sometimes help. B complex vitamins, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and probiotics being the best choices.
  • Natural remedies like milk thistle and artichoke extract help support liver function.

Herbal Helpers

Many herbal remedies can be used to control symptoms or support the body’s detoxification processes.

 Some of the more popular ones include:

  • Ginger tea, which can be used to reduce nausea
  • Peppermint teas, which help initiate sweating and detoxification
  • The herb Milk Thistle, which helps the liver to detoxify alcohol. Milk Thistle can be taken as a liver tonic throughout the holiday season to help the liver cope with excess intakes of both food and alcohol.

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