picking your poison and remedying the hangover

The holiday season is officially here, which means holiday work parties and family gatherings are a frequent occurrence. With all the celebrating often comes a lot of alcohol consumption. I am not endorsing drinking but rather educating you on how to pick the better alcohol. By chance, if you do end up drinking just a bit too much and waking up with a hangover there are a few things you can do to help decrease its severity and hopefully prevent it in the future.    

There are many choices when deciding what to drink so I have listed the top three that research has shown to have some positive effects. However, the research on alcohol consumption is mixed so there is no definitive conclusion. The only way to prevent alcohol from having negative effects on your health is to not drink at all but that is not realistic for many people, so remember: Everything in moderation! 

Gin: Definitely has a unique taste due to the Juniper berries (Juniperus communis). When consumed in the herbal form, it has been shown to aid in digestion due to its bitter nature. Gin also acts as a diuretic and can therefore lower blood pressure. Juniper berries can be used as an anti-septic for urinary tract infections.  

Red or White wine: Many benefits can be obtained from drinking both white and red wine in moderation. Red wine has been shown to be cardioprotective (protects the heart from diseases), decrease risk of certain cancers, decrease blood pressure and acts as an anti-oxidant because of the anthocyanins and resveratrol.  Similar effects have also been seen in white wine consumption however white wines do not contain anthocyanin. If deciding between red or white wine I always choose red but white wine is as equally cardioprotective as red.

Beer: This poison generally gets a bad rap but it actually has some beneficial properties. Most beer contains hops (Humulus lupulus), which are the seed cones from a flower used mainly for flavoring. Hops contain phytoestrogens, which has been shown to decrease hot flashes experienced in menopause. Also, hops can be anti-carcinogenic (anti-cancer) in moderate amounts and have shown benefit in preventing Alzheimer’s. If your drink of choice is beer then choose a beer that has a high hops content such as an ale.

General Tips:

  • Drink clear and distilled alcohol: The clearer the alcohol the less congeners it contains. Congeners are one of the main causes of a hangover.
  • Avoid mixing alcohol with soft drinks or juice: Soft drinks and juice add calories and a lot of sugar. Try soda or tonic water with a fresh lemon or lime instead!  

If after a night of drinking you find yourself suffering from a hangover try these tips to help decrease the severity:

  1. Hydration: Adequate water intake while drinking will help decrease the severity of the hangover. Try to drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage consumed or use water as your ‘mix’.
  2. B-Complex: Acetaldehyde (toxic metabolite of alcohol) speeds up the degradation of B vitamins, specifically B1, B3 and B6. B vitamins play a very important role in the central nervous system and can enhance mood and increase energy.
  3. Pantethine: Taking this supplement before drinking has been shown to prevent a hangover.
  4. Vitamin C: Can reduce the severity of hangovers because it helps neutralize the toxic alcohol metabolites.
  5. L-Glutamine: An amino acid that aids in the synthesis of neurotransmitters (eg. dopamine, epinephrine) and can help reduce alcohol consumption and cravings.
  6. Prickly Pear (Nopal): Has been shown to decrease the side effects of a hangover by decreasing inflammation.

Happy Holidays!

Alcoholism is a serious disease that not only affects you but those around you. If you think you may be at risk of developing a drinking habit please see the links below:

best in health,

kate kokoski

Gaby, Alan. Nutritional Medicine. 2011. Fritz Perlberg Publishing: Concord, NH.  
Gonzalez-Munoz MJ, Pena A, Meseguer I. Role of beer as a possible protective factor in preventing Alzheimer's disease. Food and Chemical Toxicology. Volume 46, Issue 1, January 2008, Pages 49-56.
M. Falchi, A. Bertelli, R. Lo Scalzo, et al. Comparison of Cardioprotective Abilities between the Flesh and Skin of Grapes. J. Agric. Food Chem., ASAP Article 10.1021/jf061048k S0021-8561(06)01048-X: August 4, 2006
Prousky, Jonathan. Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition. 2011. CCNM Press: Toronto, ON.  


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