Office parties, long holidays with friends and family, Christmas and New Year, there are so many events ahead that even health-conscious people allow themselves to drink. How and what do you need to drink to prevent a hangover? What to chase alcohol with, how to sober up quickly and which drinks are better, let’s sort this out!
Oh, so alcohol isn’t always bad?
Small amounts of alcohol are not harmful and can even be healthy if it is not contraindicated for you or if you don’t have an addiction to it. The key word here is small.
One standard drink a day (that’s 14 grams of pure alcohol) is considered harmless. Men under 65 can have 2 standard drinks a day, women — one. This amount is considered harmless in the US, but it varies in different countries from 8 to 20 grams.
350 ml of beer (5% of alcohol)
150 ml of wine (12% of alcohol)
40 ml of hard liquor
But! If you haven’t been drinking since Monday, it does not mean that you can have 6 standard drinks on Saturday.
What should I drink to feel fine afterwards?
The most important thing is to buy only high quality alcohol. The best places to do it are boutiques and large chain stores.
What makes alcohol harmful
- The amount of ethanol consumed. The more the worse.
- The level of distillation and the amount of impurities.
- Additional ingredients for smell, taste, colour, sweetness or nice bubbles.
The most harmless alcoholic drinks in the world are (in decreasing order):
- Vodka. No additives. The safest is potato vodka. Not the most popular beverage though.
- Cider (the less sugar the better)
- Red wine (big amounts cause severe hangover)
The lighter the beverage the less hangover causing ingredients it has. Your body handles pure hard liquor or liquor with ice much better. It also has less impact on your weight. Vodka, gin and whisky have fewer calories if you mix them with fruit juice. One standard drink of vodka contains 97 calories and 0 carbs, one standard drink of gin is 110 calories and 0 carbs.
Beer has more toxins and additives which makes it hard for the body to handle. It also contains a lot of calories and carbs. But if you really want to, it’s better to choose high-quality non-pasteurized craft beer. For example, stout. It has antioxidants. In 2003, it was suggested that Guinness reduces the risk of thrombosis and is good for your heart.
Do not add syrup or sugar: it speeds up alcohol absorption into the blood and you get drunk quicker. We compiled a list of low-calorie cocktail recipes which can actually be healthy.
- Gimlet. 3 parts gin + 1 part lime juice. Pour into a shaker, add ice, shake well. Make it without sugar.
- Bloody Mary. 2 parts tomato juice + 1 part vodka + lime juice + Tabasco sauce + salt + pepper.
- Tequila + green/pomegranate iced tea.
- Tequila + coconut water.
- Vodka + green/pomegranate iced tea + coconut water.
- Red wine + mineral water.
- Sugar free sangria: red wine + fruit + gin + orange juice.
How to prepare for a holiday dinner party
- Sleep well. 8-9 hours will help you handle it well.
- Take vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) twice: 8-12 hours and 4 hours before drinking. It stimulates enzyme activity in the liver which will ease hangover symptoms. The best would be to buy a vitamin B complex, but not multivitamins. You can take up to 200 mg a day. Important! This is for rare occasions only, the normal daily dose is 5 mg.
- Drink 50 g of hard liquor 2-3 hours before the party. This will prepare your liver and activate alcohol processing enzymes.
- You can take activated charcoal. 1 tablet per 10 kg. Which makes it 7 tablets if you weigh 70 kg.
What can help you get drunk slower and prevent a hangover?
Once alcohol is in the body it is absorbed in the stomach and small intestine and gets into the blood. If you drink it on an empty stomach you will reach peak alcohol concentration in the blood as quickly as 30 minutes.
- Eat. It slows down alcohol absorption and increases your tolerance.
- Drink water. Ideally one glass of water per each glass of alcoholic drink.
- Do not drink fuzzy or hot drinks, they speed up alcohol absorption into the blood.
- If you want to have a long night and not get wasted drink slowly, one hard drink per hour. This way your body will have time to at least partially metabolise it.
- Drink water and take activated charcoal before sleeping (1 tablet per 10 kg).
What to chase alcohol with
High-protein, high-fat or hard to digest food. Meat, sausage, mushrooms, beans. They all make your hangover worse. Food in your stomach does not reduce the effects of alcohol, however, it slows down and delays its absorption. If you overeat you might not notice and drink more alcohol than your body can metabolise.
Besides, food means more work for the liver, which is already busy. Heavy food increases intoxication making it harder for the body to get rid of toxins which means next morning is going to be bad.
Vitamin B rich foods help prevent a hangover: almond, eggs, leaf vegetables (lettuce, broccoli), sea food (tuna, salmond).
Fruit and vegetables. The body needs a lot of dietary fiber and pectin. Organic acid rich food is a good chaser: honey, lemon, berries, apple or grape juice. This will help stimulate the body to metabolise alcohol breakdown products better.
If you haven’t managed to eat light you can take digestive enzymes which will help you lessen the burden on your digestive system: Mezym Forte, Wobenzym or Creon.
It’s best to chase your drinks frequently and with small portions so that you don’t overdrink and stay always full.
How to sober up quickly
What if the walls are already moving and it’s so hard to resist doing that awesome break dance move in front of your colleagues? It’s time to sober up.
On average alcohol metabolism rate is 100 mg per one kilogram. So someone who weighs 70 kg can neutralize only 7 grams of alcohol per hour. To compare, 350 ml of beer is already 14 grams. You can not flush out alcohol from your body quicker when it’s already in your blood. However, switching back to reality when you have had too much is possible.
- Wash your face with ice cold water. If you need to be careful with your makeup you can take a wet towel and pat your face.
- Get some fresh air outside, have a walk, ideally 15 minutes at a fast pace. If it’s cold outside, have at least a short walk.
- Short but intense physical exercise with your heart rate twice faster than at rest. Although, if you have any heart problems running around drunk is not the best idea, it can pose unnecessary risks.
- Induce vomiting. If it doesn’t happen naturally you can drink a glass of salt water (1 teaspoon of salt per one glass). Then press two fingers onto the very back of your tongue.
- Drink tea with honey. Don’t add sugar, it speeds up alcohol absorption. If you have a honey allergy you can drink tea with fructose.
- Drink water mixed with peppermint tincture (20 drops per one glass of water). You can buy it at any pharmacy. This doesn’t work if you have a mint allergy.
- Use smelling salts.
- Rub your ears. Put your hands on your ears and start intensely rubbing them with both hands simultaneously. This will increase the blood flow to your head which will help you sober up.
Don’t drink coffee. Caffeine does not speed up the process of cleansing your system of alcohol. But it perks you up. Combined with being drunk this can lead to silly behaviour and serious consequences, like drunk driving, for example.
Secondly, having alcohol and caffeine in your body at the same time is a great pressure on your heart which can cause arrhythmia. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system, alcohol, on the other hand, slows it down, and when you get both effects simultaneously it exhausts your body.
What can help you cure a hangover
Water. Before, during and after dinner. Alcohol is a diuretic and causes fluid loss. Your brain gets dehydrated which is the main reason of a headache in the morning. That’s why the most important thing to do is to restore the electrolyte balance in your body.
You need electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, sodium and phosphorus. Sports drinks and coconut water contain them. Vinegar, water and salt in brine also help.
Tea. Mint or ginger tea will help you get rid of nausea.
Fructose and glucose. One of the main causes of nausea is a low level of sugar in the blood. The liver uses up all available glucose to metabolise alcohol. Revive your body’s resources: drink tea with honey or apple juice and eat some fruit. It’s an additional source of energy which helps your body flush out toxins and shorten the hangover period. Drinking citrus juice isn’t a good idea, it irritates the gastric mucosa.
Vitamins B6, B1 and C. Vitamin C boosts liver detox and if you take too much of it it will leave your system through kidneys increasing the production of urine.
High complex carb products. They will help relieve nausea. They also balance out the amount of sugar in the blood without disrupting the functioning of the stomach.
Eggs for breakfast. They contain amino acids taurine and cysteine. Taurine helps revitalize your liver and cysteine breaks down the toxin called acetaldehyde which causes a severe hangover.
Oatmeal. It’s a source of calcium, magnesium and iron. Besides, it will increase the level of sugar in your blood boosting your energy.
Aspirin. You can take an aspirin pill for headache, but only if it has already been more than 6 hours since your last alcoholic drink.
Succinic acid. You can buy it at any pharmacy and it helps cure intoxication. Doesn’t work if you have gastritis.
Oxygen. It is important for breaking down alcohol, so ventilate your room.
Sauna. If you don’t have any heart problems. Alcohol breakdown toxins can get out of your body with sweat.
Measure your wellbeing, stress and energy levels before the party and the next morning. The figures will show you what impact alcohol had had on your body. If the stress level is high, the tips to beat hangover will come in handy. 🙂 Measuring will only take 2-3 minutes. You can download the Welltory app on the App Store.
Checklist for a dinner party
- Pure vodka, gin or tequila are the easiest drinks for your body to handle.
- Eat some high complex carb food and take vitamin B6 8 and 4 hours before having dinner and drinks.
- Drink water: Before, during and after the dinner.
- Chasers: fruit, vegetables or sea food is better than meat, poultry or sausage.
- Had too much? Fresh air, washing your face with ice cold water, a short walk or high intensity physical exercise will help.
- If you feel horrible induce vomiting.
- Activated charcoal before the party or before going to bed. 1 tablet per 10kg of weight.
- In the morning: water, air, vitamins B6 and C.
- Good healthy breakfast: oatmeal (calcium, magnesium, carbs), eggs (taurine and cysteine), bananas (potassium).