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Friday, December 6, 2013

9 Strategies to Kick Your Hangover to the Curb

Hangovers: the perfect way to ruin your day!
“Don’t judge,” she said a little too loudly, sitting down and frantically flagging our server for coffee. I had seen my friend at her very worst during a particularly nasty flu where I brought over chicken soup, and she didn’t look half as bad as she looked this morning.
She didn’t need to give me the details. I knew her plans last night. Second date, bar hopping, texting me at 3 a.m.: All signs pointed to
Let’s talk about what not to do the morning after you got totally wasted. You don’t take acetaminophen, which wreaks havoc on your already-stressed liver. You don’t order a stiff Bloody Mary to chase away your symptoms. You don’t order a gargantuan plate of chocolate chip pancakes with maple syrup, washed down with orange juice.
 At brunch that morning (actually, it was almost noon), my friend was doing everything wrong. She could see I was not happy with her behavior.
“So what do you do when you feel like a bus hit you and knocked you into the middle of next week?” she finally asked, making her don’t give me a lecture face.
Well, since you asked…
Why Won’t My Hangover Go Away?
Hangovers wreak major havoc on your body, and as you get older they only become more damaging. Even after the alcohol clears, a hangover can stick around eight to 24 hours, depending on how much you drink.  
Ever since the dawn of time – or so I imagine – folks have searched for remedies to relieve or prevent hangovers and bypass that morning-after misery. We’re desperate to find any vitamin, food, over-the-counter drug, or folk remedy that allows us to enjoy a liquid-fueled evening and not reap the morning-after consequences.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of science to support hangover remedies. A systematic review in the British Medical Journal looked at eight randomized control trials about preventing and/ or treating hangovers. Researchers were not impressed.
“No compelling evidence exists to suggest that any conventional or complementary intervention is effective for preventing or treating alcohol hangover,” they wrote. “The most effective way to avoid the symptoms of alcohol induced hangover is to practice abstinence or moderation.” 
Well, then: These guys don’t sound like a lot of fun.
That doesn’t mean you’re doomed. Let’s get this out of the way: Your best strategy to avoid a hangover is abstinence or moderation.
But you’re human. I get it. Especially around the holidays, you’ll have countless opportunities to indulge, and one drink just may become three or four.
I rarely drink, and I absolutely discourage over-drinking. If you don’t drink, don’t start. If you have an alcohol problem, please do not drink. If you show up for a training session with me after a night getting blitzed, I am not going to be happy.
That said, if a girls’ night out or other social event becomes a booze-fest, you’re going to pay the price but these nine strategies can minimize the painful aftermath:
1.     Water. You don’t need a science nerd to tell you alcohol dehydrates you. The problem becomes more complex when you consider you’re probably already dehydrated before you take that first shot, so alcohol merely compounds that effect. Your number-one hangover cure? Don’t drink. Second in line: drink plenty of filtered water with your Cosmos. My rule for clients is two glasses of water for every alcoholic drink. I know you don’t always think about water when you’re chugging whiskey sours. Get over it and do it. You’ll thank me in the morning.
2.    Magnesium. Studies show magnesium can relieve various kinds of headaches, and this mineral has been well-studied for migraines. Alcohol depletes magnesium like crazy, and considering nearly three-quarters of us are deficient to begin with, that can become a real problem since it plays a part in over 300 enzymatic reactions. Among its many jobs, magnesium reduces inflammation, and inflammation is a key factor in hangovers.
3.    Coconut water. When you drink, you pee a lot. You sweat. You might – eek! – vomit. Besides dehydration, alcohol triggers electrolyte imbalances. Dizziness, light-headedness, lethargy, and excessive thirst are big warning flags of dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Coconut water is a great thirst quencher that also replenishes electrolytes. Another smart option is Catalyte, a professional-quality electrolyte and energy powder from Thorne Research.
4.    Protein. A study at UK’s Newcastle University found a bacon sandwich is your ultimate food for a hangover. (I say ditch the bread and have eggs with your bacon.) Among its many roles, protein helps balance blood sugar and protects your immune system. Without sufficient protein, your liver can’t detoxify, which can spell real problems after a hangover. If the thought of food makes you want to hurl, whip up a protein shake with plenty of antioxidant-rich foods like berries, flaxseed, and raw kale.
5.    Sulfur-rich foods. This crucial mineral plays a big role in phase 2 detoxification, where your body actually releases toxins. Sulfur-rich foods include eggs, garlic, onions, and cruciferous veggies. My favorite hangover cure is an organic-egg omelet loaded with broccoli, cauliflower, onions, and maybe a little goat cheese. Sulfur-rich, plenty of protein, and delicious!
6.    Sleep. Alcohol impairs sleep, and even though you finally crashed at 4 a.m., you’re wide awake at 10:30. “Although a drink before bed may help you fall asleep,” says Dr. Jonny Bowden in The Most Effective Ways on Earth to Boost Your Energy, “a few hours later it has the opposite effect, and part of your brain thinks it’s party time (though the part that’s paying attention to our headache may not agree).” Although it probably won’t be high-quality sleep, getting eight hours of shut-eye becomes paramount after a night drinking. Sleep deprivation only exacerbates a hangover’s misery.
7.     Green tea. Among the zillion other things it’s good for, green tea benefits your liver. After a night drinking, this crucial organ needs all the help it can get. Green also contains a calming amino acid called theanine, which studies show can benefit mental alertness
8.    Get your Bs (and C). You pee a lot when you drink, which means you readily excrete your water-soluble vitamins. Experts recommend taking a supplement before you drink and another the following morning with breakfast. While you're at it, make sure you're getting liver-support nutrients like alpha-lipoic acid, N-acetyl cysteine, and milk thistle.

9.     Coffee. Chances are this is the first thing you reach for when you awake with a hangover. Researchers found not only does coffee provide a hefty pick-me-up after a rough night partying; it can also inhibit an enzyme that contributes to liver damage, heart disease, and diabetes. For the record, it took 5 or more cups to get these benefits, and at that point you might be so jittery you forget you even had a hangover. 
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Fitness expert and strength coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at © 2011 Jinifit, Inc.

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