When it comes to drinking, it’s all about damage limitation, look after your body and your body will look after your hangover.
Eating the right foods before a night on the tiles could be the difference between starting 2014 feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed, or retiring deep beneath the duvet to recover.
Protein rich foods like fish, meat, nuts, seeds, eggs and tofu are perfect as they line the stomach and take a while to digest.
Before bed, have a snack to help balance blood sugar levels – try marmite, hummus or peanut butter on wholegrain toast.
Top up on vitamin B, as alcohol destroys it, killing off the vitamin’s vital energy boosting and nervous system protecting properties.
Fruit smoothies are a good way to top up blood sugar levels after a drinking session.
1. Can food really help with a hangover or is it a myth?
Hangover symptoms show that the body is suffering from dehydration, mineral loss and low blood sugar, as well as the presence of toxic metabolites of alcohol.
Food can prevent or reduce hangover symptoms as certain nutrients are used for the body’s detoxification processes.
Food and drink helps to counteract dehydration and nutrient loss caused by drinking, as well as to support balanced energy levels.
2. What should you eat before you go out and why?
The best foods and drinks to focus on are those which promote liver function.
Firstly ensure you have protein as some amino acids facilitate detoxification, particularly of acetaldehyde which is thought to be a cause of unpleasant hangover symptoms.
Secondly ensure you have antioxidant-rich fruits, fresh vegetables and leafy greens because they offer protection from free radicals which are considered another cause of hangovers.
Overall, it’s important that you do eat before drinking to slow the absorption of alcohol and additionally reduce the irritation that it causes to the stomach.
Include healthy fats such as an olive oil dressing to slow absorption of alcohol, thereby slowing the work for your liver.
3. What should you eat the next day and why?
Start the day with a protein- and nutrient-rich breakfast.
Ideally choose eggs, because they are rich in cysteine which is needed to break down acetaldehyde.
Try a healthier cooked breakfast of poached eggs, green leafy vegetables, grilled tomatoes and wholegrain bread.
Keep your energy up by having plenty of slow release carbohydrates from wholegrains and vegetables.
Keep well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, or even better drink coconut water as it’s naturally rich in electrolytes which helps to better hydrate you – like a sports drink but without artificial sweeteners.
Alcohol consumption results in dehydration which contributes to symptoms such as headache and fatigue, so this is very important.
4. What foods and drinks should you avoid, before and after drinking?
Before, during and after drinking it’s best to avoid sugary foods and drinks, because alcohol consumption tends to play havoc with energy and blood sugar control.
Refined sugars will compound this problem so it’s better to focus on protein and unrefined carbohydrates which release glucose slowly.
After drinking it’s best to avoid caffeine because it could worsen the dehydration.
Finally, after drinking the stomach may be irritated so it’s best to avoid very spicy or fatty fried foods.
It’s not wise to start drinking alcohol the next day because it prolongs the period of time for which your liver is processing alcohol.