Shattered phone screen, bag MIA and a roster of Uber receipts, followed by three days of night terrors, suicidal thoughts and physical ennui. There’s no all-consuming, black hole of despair like a hangover. Trust me, I know. The obvious cure is to abstain but, let’s face it, that’s unthinkable in the run up to New Year. So here’s a mini guide to limiting the fallout:
- Make hydrating your raison d’etre. Because alcohol is a diuretic, you will have lost a lot of water and electrolytes. It’s this that gives you the pounding headache, nausea and tongue that feels like leather. A lot of people swear by rehydration sachets – you can buy Dioralyte over the counter – which if you remember to take before you go to bed will stand you in good stead. If not take one as soon as you wake up (blackcurrant flavour is the least gag-inducing).
- Milk thistle is a herb that contains silymarin, widely considered a hepatoprotective (liver protective) and antioxidant. This makes it particularly effective for detoxification. As Marion Colledge, the expert, London-based herbalist, says: “The antioxidant properties of this herb mean it scavenges a lot of the free radicals created in the body by alcohol consumption and smoking. It also helps to protect the liver by enhancing cellular regeneration, thereby breaking down the toxins caused by drinking. While milk thistle is no miracle cure for hangovers and no licence to drink irresponsibly, your liver WILL thank you for it.” Take recommended dose before and after a big night.
- Eggs are good any time but they own it the morning after the night before. This is thanks to their cysteine and taurine components, both amino acids that help your system eliminate acetaldehyde, the by-product that’s left behind when your liver metabolises alcohol and which many claim is the actual reason a hangover makes you feel so lousy.
- Your liver takes a chronic pummelling during and after a mega night on the sauce. Your body deals with alcohol in your system by utilising an enzyme called dehydrogenase, which relies on zinc. The more you drink, the more zinc you need. Naturally zinc-rich foods are hard to come by so if you know you’re going hard, take a 100mg zinc supplement before you go out and again in the morning. If you can stomach it, chase it down with some high strength vitamin C.
- Alcohol is bad news for the good microflora in your gut so it’s important to take a good probiotic supplement first thing in the morning. I swear by Optibac.
- Thinking ahead now to when you’ve clambered back on the wagon. Many swear by sticking to clear spirits to lessen the toxic aftermath – think vodka rather than congener-loaded dark liquors like rum or bourbon. I have a particular friend who claims tequila with lime juice and soda is basically a licence to party without paying dearly the next day. Worth a shot.
Drinkaware is an independent charity working to reduce alcohol misuse and harm in the UK www.drinkaware.co.uk