The streets are lined with snow, the scent of pine is wafting through the air and the spirit of the holidays is contagious. Tis the season to be nostalgic with old friends, spend time with family and enjoy the company of our loved ones over good food and a few adult beverages. Whether you’re having mulled wine by the fireplace or attending holiday parties- the increase in alcohol this time of year can leave us feeling sluggish and not so merry. Not to fear, we have some tried and true tricks to help you avoid the dreaded hangover and enjoy the holiday parties in all their glory!
What Causes a Hangover?
Alcohol, although it has its benefits- can wreak havoc on the body. We feel this the next day through nausea, fatigue, anxiety and the classic headache. Aside from being hard on the liver and causing oxidative stress, let’s look at why a hangover happens and steps we can take to reduce the length and severity.
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases urination- contributing to dehydration. Part of the reason we experience a hangover is due to the dehydrating effects of alcohol- but why doesn’t chugging endless glasses of water after a night out do the trick?
This is because dehydration is only part of the puzzle. Alcohol, when ingested has to be processed by the liver. During the metabolism of alcohol, acetaldehyde is produced as a by-product. Acetaldehyde is estimated to be 30x more toxic than alcohol, and its accumulation is what’s responsible for the majority of hangover symptoms.
Alongside acetaldehyde and dehydration, congeners have also been shown to induce more severe hangovers. Congeners are chemical by-products that are formed during the fermentation process of some liquors.
Alcohol also decreases many nutrients and suppresses the immune system- both contributing to those awful mornings and afternoons that sometimes last well into the evening. The good news is, when we know why something happens- we can fix it…
Tips for Avoiding a Hangover
Hydrate- While drinking water during a night out has little to do with how you feel the next morning (myth busted, sorry), making sure to be hydrated before you start sipping alcohol can lessen the symptoms of a hangover.
Choose Clear Alcohol- Congeners are found in higher concentrations in dark liquors such as brandy, whiskey and red wine. By opting for clear spirits these chemicals are limited, and studies show reducing congeners has a positive effect on hangover symptoms!
Have a Nourishing Meal – There are many nutrients involved in processing and mitigating the effects of alcohol. This is part of the reason alcohol can leave us feeling depleted the next day. Instead of reaching for that greasy hangover meal, choose a nutrient dense option to help restore the body.
Take B-Vitamins – B-vitamins are rapidly depleted with alcohol intake. Supplementing the morning after helps replenish the body. As an added bonus, B vitamins are well known for increasing energy, which the body needs since alcohol inhibits full sleep cycles.
Glutathione - This antioxidant will revolutionize your hangovers so much it deserves it own section.
Glutathione is the body’s best alley when it comes to liver health. One of its many functions is to neutralize toxic substances and assist the liver in removing them from the body. This makes glutathione the star nutrient in helping the body cope with excess alcohol.
Glutathione becomes depleted when alcohol is consumed. This is because it’s needed to clean up the alcohol induced oxidative stress in the liver and clear out acetaldehyde. The body can’t replenish glutathione quickly enough when alcohol is present. As a consequence, acetaldehyde builds up, exasperating hangover symptoms and causing further oxidative damage.
Researchers found that glutathione supplementation can decrease the concentration of acetaldehyde in the blood thereby helping hangover symptoms. In addition to this, glutathione protects the liver from oxidative stress induced by alcohol- which helps keep it running efficiently day in and out.
Glutathione is made up of three amino acids. Most glutathione supplements, once they come into contact with stomach acid breakdown into these three components- rendering the glutathione ineffective. Lypo-Spheric® glutathione however, is wrapped in phospholipids- protective fat molecules that allows the glutathione to survive the stomach acid. Liposomal glutathione is the only oral form of glutathione that has been shown to increase levels in the body.
Our holiday Rx? Take 1-2 sachets of Lypo-Spheric® glutathione per day, on an empty stomach to enjoy all that the holiday season has to offer- including those yummy cocktails!
Author: Lisa Kowalyk, CNP