I am a self confessed lover and abuser of all things food. My life revolves around fine food, fine wine and when out, fine service. If the saying “live to eat” applies to anyone, it most certainly applies to me! I am not a trained chef, but I would describe myself as a damned good cook and everything is self taught. When I see and eat something that I like, I will go to tremendous lengths to reproduce and adapt said dish. I am a lover of fine red wine and anything that has good quality fizz always floats my boat. I have been known to get quite emotional when drinking a first class bottle of Barolo, but as my palate and respect for the finer things develops, so does my understanding of the need to moderate my passion responsibly.
In my life away from food, fine wine and all things indulgent, I have to work to pay for my enjoyment and I can assure you that the quest for high class dining is not a cheap hobby to maintain. My work is in the healthcare sector and I am a clinically trained practitioner who is now a manager in the private sector with a much reduced commitment to clinical practice, with this in mind, I thought I might share some tips to help you manage that New Years Day feeling if you do decide to over do it again this year.
So New Years Eve is just around the corner and that familiar “morning after” will be dreaded (but still experienced) by millions from all around the globe. In my younger years (I am rapidly approaching the half century mark), I used to wonder why I put myself through all that pain for so many years. I don’t tend to do it much nowadays, favouring a sensible and controlled New Years Eve celebration, but there are many out there who will be suffering the after effects on Tuesday morning, so here are some facts and useful tips.
We all know that a hangover is that experience which follows heavy consumption of alcoholic drinks in whatever form they take. Too much Lager, Bitter, Wine, Champagne, Shots, or a combination (usually) of all of the aforementioned tends to result in the most unpleasant physiological side effects. These side effects usually include headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, lethargy, dehydration, increased heart rate, sweating, thirst and even diarrhoea! These symptoms usually first develop on awakening the morning after, but can come on many hours after that. It is important to state that these symptoms are common after just one heavy night out (or in!) Some of the rarer symptoms can include feelings of anxiety and depression and can last for many hours and in some cases days. Of course there is always the added risk of acetaldehyde intoxication or alcohol poisoning in simple terms and whilst I am sure this happened to me more than once during my University years, it really is something you should avoid at all costs.
Alcohol (Ethanol) has a dehydrating effect by inducing diuresis, simply it makes you urinate heavily, something we have all noticed when out drinking. The more high percentage alcohol you drink, the more you will pee. It is a common misconception that it is the volume that makes you pee more, it’s not, it’s the alcohol concentration. Shorts and wine have higher alcohol volumes by percentage than beer! Just remember that a large Gin and Tonic has more alcohol than two pints of Lager, and yes, you have the volume of the Lager to process and urinate, but the diuretic effect of the large Gin will make you pee equally. The other thing to remember is that Ethanol will cause the dry mouth and the nausea as it irritates the stomach lining, and will make you very tired and lethargic due to its poisoning effect!
Another contributing factor (here’s the medical jargon) is the presence of products from the breakdown of ethanol by liver enzymes. Ethanol is converted to acetaldehyde by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, and then from acetaldehyde to acetic acid by the enzyme
acetaldehyde dehydrogenase. Acetaldehyde (ethanol) is approximately 20-30 times more toxic than alcohol itself. In simple terms, the process of detoxifying your self harm contributes to poisoning you even more than the original intake of the alcoholic drink. It’s no wonder the liver suffers so greatly from alcohol! There are some other complex detoxification processes involved during the breakdown of alcohol, but the most applicable one for the purpose of this article is the livers inability to compensate for the drop in blood glucose levels. Glucose just happens to be the primary source of energy to the brain and will cause marked weakness, mood disturbances, and decreased concentration and attention!
Of course the most common and most likely symptom on New Years Day will be a headache. In medical terms this is caused by dehydration caused by the alcohols ability to inhibit the effect of anti-diuretic hormone on the kidney tubules. In simpler terms you push out fluid from your cells and your brain swells and pushes against the lining of your skull which equals a mighty big headache until you get some fluids back on board. Now this takes time as you won’t have access to correctly balanced electrolyte intravenous solutions, nor a sympathetic medical practitioner to insert a cannula and drip feed you the cure!
So what can you do to limit or completely avoid the dreaded hangover? Well the easy answer is not to drink at all, but I am a big fan of fun and when fun and socialising involves alcohol I would not want to spoil anyone’s enjoyment. I am pretty sure I will end up with a feeling of over indulging on New Years Day myself, but this is what I will be doing before the party begins and to limit those unpleasant symptoms.
You might have to make a trip to a health food shop or a Chemists (possibly both) before the big night, but it will be well worth it and you will have plenty of “my cure” ingredients to last you a long time for future celebratory events.
Before you go out try and eat something that will line and protect the stomach. Pasta or rice dishes work well, and creamy, sugary dishes give the body some further protection.
Do not drink anything other than water or sugary soft drinks until the celebrations begin.
Immediately before you go out, take a Milk Thistle Tablet (the active ingredient you are after is Silymarin, at least 200g) so you may find you need more than one tablet depending on the brand.
Also take one Vitamin B Complex, one standard Multi Vitamin, and one Zinc Gluconate tablet.
Take 1g of Vitamin C, those fizzy tablets are the best way dissolved in a full pint of water.
Moderate your alcohol consumption during the night and drink a glass of water with every third alcoholic drink.
When you get home, take all of the above vitamins and tablets again with a full pint of water and add a sachet of Dioralyte mixed in to the water.
Do not take common painkillers on top of alcohol as this will just give your liver and kidneys more work to do. At this stage they need to concentrate in detoxifying the alcohol you have consumed!
In the morning repeat the vitamin intake and a further pint of water with a sachet of Dioralyte.
Have a good hearty breakfast and then feel free to take common painkillers, but if you have followed my tips, I am confident you won’t need them!
Continue to drink plenty of water during the day and avoid tea and coffee if you can as they contain caffeine which like alcohol, is a diuretic.
Avoid the “hair of the dog” remedy at all costs. I believe you won’t need it anyway.
Best wishes for a Very Happy New Year