Foods that Help You Beat a Hangover

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Holiday parties are almost synonymous with booze, which makes it easy for some of us to throw back a few drinks too many.  The nutritionist in me isn’t encouraging it, but since it’s the holiday season, I’ll cut everyone some slack.

So what to do the next day when you find yourself in poor shape to handle closing a big deal with a client, an important meeting with the boss, or a 10K run with your running group?  Try some of these foods for a natural cure to your hangover:

  • Eggs contain significant amounts of cysteine, an amino-acid that has the ability to break down toxins created when alcohol is metabolized in the body.  These toxins, ethanol and acetaldehyde, not only contribute to your hangover symptoms, they also cause damage to your cells.  Cysteine will help your body to detoxify, and thanks to its strong antioxidant properties, protect your cells from free radical damage.
  • Have some asparagus with your eggs.  A study published in the Journal of Food Science in 2009, found that the amino acids and minerals contained in asparagus stimulated the production of the enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).  These enzymes are responsible for breaking down the toxins ethanol and acetaldehyde into acetate, so that they can be excreted from the body. It stands to reason then, that the more ADH and ALDH produced by the body, the faster it can detoxify the liver, which means the sooner you’re back on your game.
  • Be sure to drink plenty of clear liquids like pure filtered water, clear organic broth, or coconut water.  Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it causes you to lose water and leaves you dehydrated.  For each glass of alcohol consumed, you can expel up to four times as many liquid.  Furthermore, alcohol suppresses the hormone that stops you from urinating (the anti-diuretic hormone), signaling the kidneys to reabsorb less water.  When you have an equation of greater water output versus input, you get symptoms of dehydration – headache, dizziness, thirst, lethargy.  Combat these by consuming at least 2 litres of water to increase body fluid levels and help flush toxins from the body.  Coconut water and clear broth will also do the trick, with the added bonus of helping your body replenish nutrients and electrolytes lost from your night of drinking.
  • Toast is always a good choice for settling a queasy stomach.  Choose a whole-grain bread for its B-vitamins content to replenish those used by the body during the process of alcohol metabolism.  You’ll also find toast to be a good source of carbohydrate that will help regulate blood sugar levels, as fluctuation is a common cause of consuming alcohol.  Normally your liver will produce more glucose in response to a dip in blood sugar.  However when you drink, your liver’s priority shifts to metabolizing the alcohol and keeps it too busy to carry out all its other tasks.  Add raw, unpasteurized honey to your toast for added carb intake and see a boost to your mood and energy as your blood sugar returns to normal.  Raw honey is also packed with antioxidants that aid in curbing the negative effects of the alcoholic toxins.

You can reduce your chances of a hangover by eating before and while you drink, alternating one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you have, avoiding the bubbly drinks as they increase the rate of alcohol absorption in the blood, and choosing clear or lighter colour liquors which have less congeners (the chemical that gives alcohol its colour, taste, and smell).

Don’t let your celebrations knock you off your feet and keep you from enjoying the holidays!

Got your own natural remedy for curing hangovers? Share it in the comment box.

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