With holiday festivities fast approaching you may soon find yourself groaning and saying “never again” as that morning after feeling kicks in.
No one can claim that drinking alcohol is good for your health – especially as you get older. But there is a good and a bad way to drink alcohol.
Take the better – or least worst – route to drinking alcohol and you can neutralize its worst effects. So – kick start a healthy holiday season by following these ten tips for safer alcohol consumption.
1. Choose your best time to drink – Every time you take a sip of wine your body reacts as if it’s being poisoned. Which of course it is. A group of enzymes (alcohol dehydrogenase) swing into action to get the alcohol toxin out of your system as quickly as possible. If you’re reasonably healthy, your body can get as much as 98% of the alcohol out of your system at the rate of around 1 unit of alcohol an hour. Your body is in peak production mode for these alcohol-eliminating enzymes at 8.00 pm – so if you’re going to drink that’s the “healthiest” time to do it!.
2. Take care when drinking alcohol at lunch-time Your body deals with alcohol much less efficiently during the day (those six enzymes again). Production of alcohol dehydrogenase drops during the day so middle of the day is absolutely the worst time to drink. Of course you can’t avoid lunch time drinking entirely during the holiday season – so just be aware that the effects will be much stronger.
3. Make sure you aren’t “tired and emotional” BEFORE you start drinking Tiredness and hormonal changes effect your body’s ability to produce those all important enzymes and one drink will hit your body like two.
4. Stay away from the ice bucket – The coldness of an ice filled drink opens a valve at the top of your stomach – the result you tend to gulp your drink down rather than sip slowly. As the healthiest of us can only eliminate one unit an hour – your body won’t be able to cope.
5. Drink a lot of water Make sure you have at least a glass between each drink and plenty before you go to bed. Many hangover symptoms – headache, nausea, furry mouth – are due to the effects of dehydration rather than the alcohol poisoning.
6. Eat something with your drink – We all know this one – but how many times do we ignore it? Drink with food is much better than drink on its own. Food slows the absorption of alcohol and delays its effects. So if you can’t eat a full meal as you drink then hit the snacks big time.
7. Line your stomach – Another golden oldie but true nonetheless. That old drinkers tip of lining your stomach with a glass of milk really does work. Make sure it’s full fat milk though or try full fat pro-biotic natural yoghurt. Just make sure you give it time to settle on your stomach before you hit it with your first cocktail.
8. Don’t try and keep up with the boys – especially if you’re a girl. Women produce less alcohol dehydrogenase than men and so the alcohol effects us more quickly. We also have more fat and less water in our bodies and so alcohol is more concentrated in our systems. It may not be fair but being a woman could be a very good reason to keep your drinking under control.
9. Be honest about how much alcohol you drink – Dietary guidelines for Americans published by the US Government sets the boundaries at one drink per day for women and two for men. One drink should be a SMALL glass of wine, a single measure of spirits or a half a pint of beer. European guidelines are a bit more generous but the absolute maximum weekly limit for women is set at 14 units of alcohol and 21 for men.
10. Never go on a binge – Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol in a very short period of time is the worst possible drinking habit you could have. Binge drinking pumps toxins into your body at a rate your major organs – specifically the liver, brain and kidneys – just can’t handle. Spread your alcohol consumption out and keep it moderate – little and often is OK (but LITTLE is the important word here). Frequent binges are a recipe for alcoholism and liver damage – not to mention wrecked skin since alcohol speeds up skin aging.
So take care when out and about over the holidays. Drink wisely and choose moderation over excess – that way you can have fun and not live to regret it in the morning.