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My name is Lisa Tsakos, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, corporate speaker and author. This blog provides professional advice from a nutrition and weight loss expert (me!) about corporate and family health. Here you'll find recipes and articles that address work-related challenges like eating on-the-go and maximizing your productivity with the right foods. You'll also find out about how you can help your children develop strong immune systems and healthy bodies. As a nutrition instructor, I often found myself thinking, "When I have kids, this is how I will feed them." With two toddlers, I have the opportunity to practice what I have been preaching and to try out my theories. So far, they seem to be working! Follow me on my journey and also on Twitter @NuVitalityHW.

30 Dec 2012

Banish Holiday Hangovers Naturally (Article)

While that last tequila shooter with the co-workers seemed like a good idea at the time, the next morning might prove otherwise. The holidays provide endless justifiable excuses for overindulgence, particularly for food and alcohol, and hangovers are just one of the side effects.

What we call a hangover - headaches, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound following excessive alcohol consumption - is the end result of dehydration and toxicity. If adequate measures are taken while alcohol is being consumed or before going to bed, hangover symptoms might be averted.


One of the best preventative measures is to drink at least one glass of water for every alcoholic drink. Alcohol's diuretic effect removes four times more fluid than is consumed. The dehydration causes the brain to shrink slightly, pulling on membranes connecting it to the skull and instigating the intense day-after headaches. Drink two to three large glasses of water before going to bed.
 

Along with lost fluids, alcohol depletes essential minerals and electrolytes, including potassium. Taken before bed, a sports drink serves double duty, providing both hydration and lost electrolytes. Eating potassium-rich foods also helps; try kidney beans, a baked potato, cantaloupe, bananas, dried fruit, or asparagus.
 

The breakdown of alcohol in the liver results in the generation of free radicals and toxic compounds, including acetaldehyde, a poisonous metabolic byproduct of alcohol metabolism responsible for many of the symptoms of a hangover. In the liver, glutathione, a protein with antioxidant activity, aids in the detoxification and removal of harmful toxins, including acetaldehyde.
 

Milk thistle, a medicinal plant, increases glutathione levels in the body, and more than 150 clinical studies have shown its ability as an antioxidant to protect and regenerate liver cells, even after alcohol abuse. Take 10 to 20 drops of milk thistle tincture with water either before or during alcohol consumption or before going to bed. Tinctures or capsules are available at your local natural products store.

You can also combat acetaldehyde with bifidus probiotics, a beneficial bacteria that help to re-colonize the intestinal tract. A teaspoon of Bifidus powder in a glass of water taken before bed will do the trick.

 

There are also patented commercial formulas available which are specifically designed to thwart post-celebration misery.
 

GTOX the Hangover Blocker is a detox shot that you drink before bed. GTOX attaches itself to alcohol molecules for faster removal from the liver, averting hangover symptoms altogether. The product's main ingredient, glucarate, a natural plant compound, helps the liver eliminate certain chemicals and hormones.
 

The ionizing footbath, a popular form of detoxification, may also help reduce hangover symptoms. While the science behind this form of hydrotherapy remains a little sketchy, its proponents swear by it. As your feet soak in the footbath, positively and negatively charged ions generated by a device placed in the water attach to toxic substances, including the breakdown products of alcohol, neutralizing and releasing them through the pores on the soles of the feet. As the detoxification process occurs, the water changes to a murky color. Drink plenty of water following a treatment to avoid further dehydration.

Magnetic therapy products, available as bracelets, shoe insoles, mattress pads and more, might also be worth a try. Stacey Grieve, a consultant at Nikken, a company that manufactures magnetic wellness products, says magnets can help mitigate the side effects of a hangover. "Magnets placed over the temples will help to decrease a hangover headache; and magnets worn over the low back or soles of the feet will help to decrease any discomfort caused from dancing the night away," she notes.

While coffee sounds like the perfect morning-after solution to a long night of decadence, caffeine also has a dehydrating effect and can exacerbate the severity of hangover symptoms. Instead, take a combination of naturally energizing and detoxifying nutrients, including a B-complex vitamin, spirulina or chlorella, or a fresh-pressed vegetable juice that includes dark leafy greens.

 

Whatever method you choose to alleviate your hangover symptoms this holiday season, always remember to be safe, and never drink and drive.

Published in the Chicago Tribune