When you drink alcohol, you deplete your stores of vitamins and antioxidants that help to process alcohol and reduce inflammation. So when drinking, be conscious to have a little extra sodium, B vitamins, magnesium, antioxidants and potassium. Having them before, during and/or after will give your body an extra helping hand. If your stomach is lined with food the alcohol you drink will be absorbed at a slower pace (yes, Mum was right all along).
When we drink with no food in our stomach, alcohol affects our brain much faster than if we’d consumed it with or after food. However, eating a big meal before drinking doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Food in your belly does not soak up the booze, but it will slow down the rate at which alcohol is absorbed. At the end of the night the same amount of alcohol will be absorbed, just at a slower rate.
For me, nothing is better at the start of a night than a delicious tasting platter or cheese board. Healthy fats, pears, perfect. Add some sweet potato, avocado, berries or dried fruit for fibre, some nuts or meat for protein and a little liquorice for something sweet. Here’s exactly what you should be including on yours to reap a plethora of health benefits (and slow down the absorption rate of alcohol) ahead of the holiday season that is fast approaching:
Proteins have many of the amino acids and vitamins (such as vitamin B) necessary for your body to effectively process alcohol. Foods that are rich in protein help balance out blood sugar and protect your immune system. Without enough protein your liver will also struggle to detoxify, which will make tomorrow’s struggle street much, much longer. Having protein rich snacks such as nuts can also reduce nausea. More so than carbohydrates and fats, protein promotes smooth, regular stomach contractions. This keeps you regular and protects against irregular stomach contractions, one of the reasons for the drunk and nauseas sensation. So include plant or animal-based clean sources of protein.
Wholegrain breads, crackers and healthy fats
Choose foods that are high in healthy fats and plenty of fibre. Both of these will keep food in your stomach longer, delaying the transit time to the digestive system and preventing you from getting tipsy too quickly. Eating foods high in healthy fat while drinking can prevent hangovers, as the fat slows down alcohol absorption. Having too much may not be the best bet though. As your body breaks down consumed saturated fat, it also uses up the body’s antioxidant stores. So while a fatty meal might satisfy those short term craves, it can make you feel more sluggish in the long run. If you’re up for a big night, tuck into some slow releasing fibrous carbohydrates: whole grains, sweet potato, quinoa, or brown rice.
Berries, nuts and dark chocolate
Antioxidants protect your cells and body from damage caused by harmful free radicals. Alcohol increases the toxins in your body, so in short, antioxidants help to mitigate the damage. Having an abundance of antioxidants, especially before your drink, will protect your body and ward off that hangover. Some of the highest antioxidant foods are berries, pecans, coriander and dark chocolate.
B Vitamin-rich cured meats, hummus and cheese
This group of eight vitamins, known as vitamin B complex, are essential to keep your body working and running effectively. They help turn the food you eat into fuel, keeping you up and running throughout the day. B vitamins can’t be stored in the body, therefore need to be regularly consumed through your diet. You can get B vitamins from meat, legumes and cheese.
When we drink, alcohol interferes with our brain’s messages to the kidneys to conserve water. When this signal is limited, you’ll find yourself constantly running off to the loo. Liquorice is a sweet little trick that offers more than a tasty chew, it actually has potential as a hangover preventer. How? By temporarily triggering your kidney to produce less urine, counteracting the effects of alcohol. So, less urine means less dehydration and less hangover.
New research shows that Korean pears can ward off hangovers and lower blood alcohol levels. Components in Korean pears act on key enzymes that are involved in alcohol metabolism, to both speed up alcohol metabolism/elimination and inhibit alcohol absorption. Most significantly, they reduce levels of acetaldehyde, the toxin thought to be responsible for hangover symptoms. But there’s a catch. Efforts are fruitless if you pear post-drinks. Pears also help relieve constipation and have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Written by ShannonRosie Barge—Nutritionist and owner of Rosie’s, Coogee.