December – for some, the month of the perpetual hangover. As we lurch from boozey drinks party to indulgent dinner, our health often goes out of the window alongside our productivity, energy and mental agility.
At this time of year, magazines are ablaze with tips on how to survive party season but often these rely on being punishingly self-disciplined. We all know that drinking less, sleeping more and doing yoga are the answers, but rarely are these conducive with silly season.
So if you don’t want to leave the party early, drink watered down wine or refuse deep fried canapés, here are five tricks to help you through the resultant horror you’re quite often faced with the next day. These fail-safe tricks are tried and tested, not only by the scientists, but also by my clients and friends… and sometimes also myself!
1. Hot Water With Fresh Lemon and Ginger First Thing
We have all heard that drinking hot water with lemon and ginger is good first thing but this is especially the case after a night of drinking. Not only does it hydrate you first thing, it is the perfect way to kick start detoxification and warm up the body to get you awake and alert. Lemon and ginger are both ideal for nausea so this is perfect if you are feeling a little ‘uncle dick’.
It also triggers digestion, helping to rid you of the harmful waste products produced when we consume alcohol. Getting rid of these is essential for shaking off a hangover.
Click here for instructions on how to make it properly. Ideally you should make it as soon as you get up and drink it whilst you’re getting ready for work.
2. Supplement Wisely
Not only is alcohol an anti-nutrient, but detoxifying it uses up our vitamins and minerals, whilst possibly also creating harmful free radicals. The result of this can be low energy, poor immunity, headaches and bad skin. Taking a good quality supplement can help to support loss of nutrients, so if you plan to drink more than usual and not eat as well as you usually do this party season, adding one into your regimes might be useful.
It’s key to find a top quality product developed by nutritionists, using ingredients that are safe and well researched. There are many supplement companies that do this (Wild Nutrition is especially brilliant) I recommend Equi London, of which I am a founder.
3. Eat Eggs for Breakfast
Once you’ve done steps one and two as above you may feel ready to eat something – try not to leave it too long, ideally within two hours of having woken up. The right type of food is key for shaking off a hangover, and there is a real science to this. Firstly it’s essential to get a good combination of wholegrain/complex carbs, protein and healthy fats, which will deliver sustained energy to prevent the peaks and troughs that often accompany a hangover. You also want foods that deliver nutrients to boost detox and energy whilst replenishing salts and electrolytes.
The breakfast that does all of this is smashed avocado on toast with eggs. Whether it’s poached, boiled or fried (in coconut oil), protein and B-vitamin rich eggs support detox and balance blood sugar whilst containing cysteine – an amino acid that breaks down acetyl-aldehyde, a toxic byproduct produced when alcohol is broken down in the body. Pair this with nutrient dense, comforting avocado alongside cracked with salt and pepper and some dried chilli flakes (if you can handle it) whereupon and a multitude of sins may begin to be washed away. Many convenience cafés (M&S, Pret, Pod, Benugo, Eat, Itsu, Vital Ingredient, Pure etc) now sell eggs, often with avocado or smoked salmon so you should be able to pick it up on the way to work.
Sweat is an easy way for the body to excrete things it wants to get rid of, which is why you may notice being more sweaty when you drink alcohol or feel hungover. Though it may not be particularly pleasant, this is totally natural and helps to clear the body of unwanted compounds that can ease a hangover.
Exercise is the obvious way to get a sweat on, but even just going for a 5 minute walk outside can help get things moving as well as stimulating the lymph to prevent sluggishness. Oxygenating the body with fresh air is an added bonus, helping to blow out the cobwebs and relieve nausea. If you can walk or cycle to work, or get out a couple of train/bus stops early then make the effort and you’ll likely feel better faster. If you can’t get outside then try having spicy food at lunch, which also acts a diaphoretic to get blood flowing and metabolism moving.
Remember to re-hydrate with plenty of water or herbal teas over the course of the day.
Just because you have to drink water and green juices doesn’t mean caffeine is totally off limits. In fact, it can boost energy, rid a headache and sharpen your reflexes. Though one cup a day of each is fine, don’t overdo coffee and black tea as this can contribute to energy fluctuations and make you feel wired.
Instead drink good quality green tea, white tea or jasmine. These contain caffeine alongside a burst of antioxidants and brain boosting compounds such as EGCG which are famed for their health giving properties. These also help to get your brain power back and can support memory (great until you start getting worrying flashbacks from last night).
If you can get it, matcha powder is a great solution as it contains a hit of caffeine alongside a high dose of many hangover relieving compounds. Try a matcha latte (many high street cafés now sell these) rather than hot chocolate or chai lattes and you may well feel more ‘with it’ within moments!
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Disclaimer: Certain supplements are used for different reasons and a one-size-fits-all approach shouldn’t be adopted. In addition, pregnant women and anyone on medication should always consult a doctor before embarking on a supplements programme. As with all articles on www.alicemackintosh.com, this is no substitution for individual medical or nutritional advice.