In excess, alcohol can really deplete your antioxidant pathways and contribute to inflammation. If you have systemic inflammation or leaky gut, drinking alcohol can stand in the way of your best efforts to repair that. So if you’re going to enjoy a drink or two, try some of these tips:
Love your Liver
If you drink enough to feel inebriated or you feel yucky in the morning, it’s a good bet that your drinking has caused inflammation. Supporting your liver with milk thistle can be a good place to start. Milk thistle is well known for it’s hepato-protective effects. Simply put, it can help you process alcohol better, protecting your liver from oxidative stress. And, it can potentially can reduce hangovers. Pop a couple capsules before going to a party, and then again afterward. It’s generally safe for everyone, but if you’re on any medications, check with your doctor.
Replete your Co-factors
Alcohol tends to deplete several nutrients, particularly those related to detoxification pathways and antioxidant cycles. Like milk thistle, Vitamin C can help reduce oxidative stress in your liver, preventing hangovers, and it tends to be depleted by alcohol consumption. Magnesium supplementation is also a worthy consideration, as alcohol depletes it, and magnesium helps keep inflammation down. When you consume alcohol, you burn through your B vitamins more rapidly as well, either in the metabolism of alcohol or in the regeneration of antioxidants like glutathione. So make sure you’ve got all of your B’s on board, using a B complex or high potency multi. These are typically taken in the morning, as some of the B’s tend to be energizing.
Part of the reason alcohol can make you feel crappy and negatively impact your sleep is that it exacerbates dehydration. Make sure you drink at least 1-2 glasses of water per alcoholic beverage. You might also consider an electrolyte drink or a cooling beverage like coconut water, 2-4 ounces of aloe vera juice, or an electrolyte blend. Aloe in particular can cool and lubricate the gut lining, and help reduce some of the inflammatory fallout.
You already know that drinking on an empty stomach is a bad idea, but did you know that going to bed with an empty stomach after indulging in too much alcohol isn’t so good either? Alcohol instigates some complex biochemical processes in your liver that can leave you hypoglycemic. Make sure you have a healthy snack before bed, with some carbohydrates and some fat and/or protein.
Pick your poison
If you’re a drinker, you probably know by now which forms of alcohol are most likely to cause problems for you. In general, the clear alcohols tend to be most tolerable, and can be mixed with tasty antioxidants like pomegranate, cranberry or cherry juice. If you’re trying to avoid alcohol altogether, these fruit juices can make wonderful mock-tails, mixed with sparkling water, orange bitters and a splash of lime. Next time you’re going to a party, bring along a mix kit of some of these healthy options.
Say no to painkillers
Remember, no popping ibuprofen or acetaminophen or other painkillers in order to prevent a hangover. Acetaminophen plus alcohol is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the US. Ibuprofen or aspirin plus alcohol increases your risk of GI bleeding as well as kidney damage. I know you want to avoid a headache, but it’s just not worth it. Instead focus on nutrient repletion and hydration and blood sugar balance. Really, that may be all you need. And if you still have a headache, then let’s talk about it
Cheers to your health!