Protect Your Body from the Effects of Alcohol during the Festive Season

The Festive Season is a time to get together with friends, workmates and family to celebrate the end of another year. There are many of us who celebrate this time by having a few alcoholic drinks, but if we go ‘over the line’ and have too much, a hangover can result. The only true cure for a hangover is time, however there are some things you can do to lessen your discomfort. See ‘how to lessen the effects of alcohol’ below.

We’ve all heard of a hangover and some of us have experienced one at some time during our life .. but what actually is a hangover and what are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

.. feeling very thirsty
.. a pounding headache
.. dizziness, blurred vision or weakness
.. feeling moody or depressed
.. low blood sugar levels
.. diarrhoea or vomitting

The effects on the body:

  • Alcohol is an acid beverage. Too much can upset the delicate acid/alkaline balance in the body and rob it of essential nutrients such as minerals, enzymes and vitamins.
  • A pounding headache is generally caused by dehydration after consuming too much alcohol.
  • Alcohol can cause acids to accumulate in the stomach and intestines resulting in queasiness and nausea.
  • The stomach lining becomes inflamed (gastritis) after consuming too much alcohol.
  • Alcohol can inflame the oesophagus, the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach, giving you heartburn.
  • When you drink you take in large quantities of glucose. The pancreas responds to this by producing more insulin which helps remove the excess glucose.
  • Low blood glucose levels are responsible for the shakes, excess sweating, dizziness, blurred vision and tiredness.
  • Alcohol also often affects bowel movements. Normally the small and large intestines reabsorb salt and water, but alcohol interferes with this process often causing diarrhoea.
  • Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic. This means it encourages the body to lose more water than it takes on by halting the production of the body’s anti-diuretic hormone, resulting in you needing to go to the toilet more often and so speeding up the loss of fluid from your body, which in turn leads to dehydration.
  • Dehydration is harmful to the health of your skin .. if you drink heavily over a period of years, you skin will appear prematurely aged.
  • Alcohol attacks our stores of vitamins and minerals, which need to be in the correct balance for the body to function normally. Dehydration caused by drinking alcohol can affect this balance by draining potassium from the body, resulting in thirst, muscle cramps, dizziness and faintness.

Long-term effects of alcohol:

ScienceDaily (May 3, 2007) — Drinking heavy amounts of alcohol over a long period of time may decrease brain volume, according to research that was presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 59th Annual Meeting in Boston, April 28 — May 5, 2007. The study found the more alcohol people drink on a regular basis, the lower their brain volume. Click here to read more from Science Daily.

Dr. Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic writes .. “Several studies have found that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. In fact, research shows that heavy drinkers who cut back to moderate drinking can lower their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) by 2 to 4 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and their diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in a blood pressure reading) by 1 to 2 mm Hg. If you have high blood pressure, avoid alcohol or drink alcohol only in moderation. Moderate drinking is generally considered two drinks a day for men younger than age 65, one drink a day for men age 65 and older, and one drink a day for women of any age. A drink is defined as 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of beer, 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine or 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of 80-proof distilled spirits” .. read more here.

Click here to read a report from the John Hopkins Medical Institute on the affects of alcohol on the body.

How to lessen the effects of alcohol:

  • The first thing is not to drink too much – one or two alcoholic drinks over a period of three to four hours is a safe amount.
  • Stay away from mixed drinks or cocktails as these generally have a higher alcohol content.
  • If you drink wine pick a good quality product without too many artificial additives.
  • Drink plenty of water or dilute your drinks with water or fruit juice.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine such as coffee or tea as caffeine increases the amount of alcohol your body absorbs..
  • Take a multivitamin and drink as much water as possible before going to bed.

The next day:

  • If you feel hungover or ill the next day try to eat simply – raw fruit and organic rye toast with honey will help lift your blood sugar levels at breakfast.
  • Eat grilled fish or chicken and salad for lunch or dinner.
  • Juice some raw fruits or vegetables to cleanse the body. Read ‘Health and vitality… through juice!’.
  • Juices are easy to digest and contain beneficial enzymes, natural sugars and antioxidants to raise the blood sugar and heal the digestive system and cleanse the cells in your body after a night out.
  • Drink plenty of pure or filtered water.
  • Drink coconut water/milk. Coconut water contains electrolytes and is refreshing, hydrating and a great way to replace lost minerals. It is available at most health foods stores.
  • Make a banana smoothie (contains potassium) with added green powder products such as spirulina, green barley or wheat grass. These contains nutrients to help repair the damage from too much alcohol.
  • Alcohol decreases mineral levels in the body .. take a magnesium chloride, Epsom Salts (magnesium sulphate) and sea salt bath to help reabsorb essential minerals. Note: Epsom Salts (magnesium sulphate) helps draw out harmful toxins, and magnesium chloride and sea salt helps the body replace lost minerals. Research by Dr. René Quinton, a French biologist/physiologist at the beginning of the 20th century, proved that pure seawater is virtually the same as human blood plasma being almost chemically identical in their mineral salts, proteins and other elements. He successfully used seawater on thousands of patients in France and Egypt in the early 1900’s. This combination added to a bath, is a wonderful way to detox and help replace minerals lost after a night of too much ‘celebrating’!
  • Bath Recipe:  2 cups unprocessed sea salt, 1 cup magnesium chloride bath flakes and 1 cup epsom salts.
  • Finally .. try to rest as much as possible to give your body a chance to heal and repair itself!

Wishing you a safe, healthy and happy festive season!