Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dealing with Hangovers

April is Alcohol Awareness Month.

FACT: 25 million American's meet the criteria for substance abuse or dependence

FACT: An additional 68 million are classified as harmful drinker.
What is a harmful drinker and how many drinks is too much? What classifies as binge drinking? 3 or more or? Binge drinking usually starts in adolescence with 42% of kids between 18-25 engaging in it (SAMHSA 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health). But it's not just an adolescent problem.

One of the effects of drinking is hangovers.  Of course, the best solution for hangovers is to avoid drinking too much or not to drink at all.  Hangovers are a sympton of the stress drinking too much alcohol puts on the body.  Franci Cohen, personal trainer, certified nutritionist and exercise physiologist in New York City recommends the below must-dos to deal with hangovers and the effects of too much alcohol.
1) Replenish/Refuel/Revive.  Upon waking up after a hangover, aim to replenish your body with vital fluids, electrolytes, and nutrients. Doing so, can help break down toxins or at the very least reduce the body's negative reaction to the chemicals in the alcohol you consumed the night before. Remember, alcohol is a diuretic, and as such, it draws water out of the body. When the body is not properly stocked with water, it draws water from areas like the brain=the reason for your pounding headache! So drink up! Water or sports drinks that contain electrolytes are a must!!!!
2) Ginger Tea. This is often used in pregnant women to relieve the nausea associated with morning sickness.  Try a cup in the morning, and you should find relief from both stomach pain and nausea.
3) Fruit Juice to Fire You Up.  Although I rarely recommend fruit juice as part of a healthy diet (the fruit itself including the flesh and fiber is a better choice), post-hangover, it can definitely do a body good. The high fructose content in fruit juices offers an instant energy boost, which may jump-start your metabolism to help rid your body of the toxins from alcohol at a faster rate. 
4) Put in Some Potassium. When your body is dehydrated from overconsumption of alcohol, a very important electrolyte is flushed out of the body as well, and needs to be replenished-potassium. Try a banana, some fresh kiwi, or even a green drink with lots of spinach. All these foods are high in potassium, and can help restore your body's deficit.
5) Eggs Anyone?  Eggs are high in 2 specific amino acids (cysteine and taurine) that can protect the liver from alcohol-induced liver disease, by breaking down acetaldehyde (the headache-causing chemical that remains when the liver breaks down ethanol).
6) Steer Clear of the Coffee Corner.  Coffee contains caffeine (a diuretic), which can further dehydrate you-exactly the opposite of what you want post-hangover!
7) Skip the Exercise (or at least for the morning).  When treating a hangover, it is best for symptoms to subside before engaging in any strenuous activity. If your motor skills seems fine, and you can't resist taking a morning stroll, then bring along some H2O and enjoy your walk. Keep in mind, that you'll be losing more fluids as you exercise so replenishing those fluids are a must!!!! Want to head out to the gym for your favorite kickboxing or spin class? This unfortunately, is a bit too ambitious when you are hung-over. Spend the day repairing your body with fluids, vitamins, minerals, and rest.  Save the killer workout for tomorrow!

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