We’re all set to enjoy the party season but the morning after hangover isn’t something to look forward to! If you do overindulge and end up with a hangover what does your body need for a quick recovery?
Ethanol in alcohol is toxic and it is metabolised in the liver via an enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) into acetaldehyde which is also toxic. Acetaldehyde is metabolised via another enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) into acetate which is not as toxic. The metabolic processes require specific nutrients such as vitamins B2, B3, zinc, vitamin C, magnesium and glutathione. If you don’t have sufficient supply of these nutrients to enable the metabolism of alcohol you end up with an accumulation of acetaldehyde causing a headache and sickness.
Alcohol stimulates the production of stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) and irritates the stomach and intestine. This causes inflammation and messages are sent to the brain that the stomach contents should be expelled. The result is nausea and vomiting.
In addition, toxic ethanol leaves you dehydrated because it suppresses the hormone vasopressin that stops excessive urination. Hence drink alcohol and you urinate more losing fluid and electrolytes sodium and potassium. So apart from drinking water, what else can you do?
Alcohol can leave you with a headache, lacking energy, nauseous, irritable, lacking concentration and dehydrated. Having a good supply of nutrients that you have lost through the metabolism of the alcohol and lost through dehydration; B & C vitamins, zinc, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and glutathione is a good start. Also, ensure sufficient sources of B vitamins for energy.
How on earth do we do this? Particularly when you are hungover, it’s not exactly the easiest thing to focus on a long list of nutrients that you need to make yourself feel great again! Don’t worry help is at hand. There are a number of great meals to get stuck into that will deliver these nutrients and make you feel a whole lot better.
The Full Hangover Breakfast
Eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, baked beans, tomato, spinach
Go all out with this full hangover breakfast. It provides the building blocks for glutathione as well as sodium, potassium, magnesium, B & C vitamins. Eggs are an incredibly nutrient-dense food containing essential amino acids and sulphur compounds for the synthesis of glutathione plus B vitamins and zinc supporting the detoxification and metabolism of alcohol. The B vitamins are needed for energy too and after a night partying you’ll probably need an energy boost! Bacon provides sodium and potato (in the hash browns) potassium, replenishing the electrolytes lost. Green leafy veggies like spinach are a source of magnesium so pile those on too and don’t forget the vitamin C to replenish glutathione by adding tomatoes or red peppers.
The Leftover Xmas Lunch
Turkey, pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, brussel sprouts, parsnips, roasted garlic, broccoli, peas and cranberry sauce
Everything on your Xmas lunch plate is going to be great to support the metabolism of alcohol, the replenishment of electrolytes, energy levels and make you feel a whole lot better. In this meal, we have a good supply of amino acids including tryptophan, B vitamins, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulphur compounds, zinc, selenium, choline, glutathione, vitamin C.
Kick start your replenishment of minerals; sodium, potassium and magnesium, with the broccoli, potato, peas, parsnips, brussels sprouts and bacon. Sulphur rich foods broccoli, garlic, brussel sprouts and turkey support the removal of toxic acetaldehyde as sulphur is needed for the synthesis of glutathione. Asparagus and garlic are both food sources of glutathione. Vitamin C needed as an antioxidant and in restoring glutathione levels is found in Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, parsnips, broccoli, garlic and of course the cranberry sauce!
Eggs & Soldiers
Soft boiled eggs with asparagus dippers
For all the reasons mentioned above, eggs are a great food to support the metabolism of alcohol and help you feel a whole lot better. Asparagus is a rich source of glutathione and although we don’t absorb glutathione from food well (rather we make our own), asparagus will also help reduce oxidative stress and is a great source of vitamin B9 that is depleted by alcohol, potassium to restore electrolyte levels and vitamin C to replenish glutathione.
Avocado & Smoked Salmon on Toast
Avocado, smoked salmon, toast
Avocados are naturally rich in glutathione, B & C vitamins, potassium and magnesium. Add the smoked salmon to provide anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids supporting inflammation in the stomach and intestines from the alcohol. Smoked salmon also provides sodium and the toast some carbohydrates to restore energy levels after a late night! Add an egg to give even more hangover supporting nutrients. This meal will get you back on track.
Porridge topped with Nuts, Seeds & Berries
Oats, nuts (almonds, cashews, pecan), sunflower seeds. dates, berries and milk
Oats are a slow-release carbohydrate so will stabilise blood sugar levels and help restore energy. Oats also contain beta-glucan a type of soluble fibre that stimulates the immune system, something that you may well need during the festive season. Nuts and seeds are a good source of potassium and magnesium. Top with an assortment of berries adding health-supporting phytonutrients and plenty of vitamin C. For some added sweetness add a chopped date. The fibre in the date will not only ensure a slow release of sugar to keep blood sugar levels on an even keel but dates are a good source of potassium.
Banana & Almond Butter on Toast
Banana, almond butter, toast
Something that can be eaten at any time of the day! This will really help replenish your potassium levels, both bananas and almonds are a good source of potassium. They are also both a great source of the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is needed to synthesise serotonin that is converted to melatonin ensuring you have a good night’s sleep. After a party make sure you get a good following nights sleep to restore your energy levels. You could even eat this before bed after a night out. There’s plenty of magnesium in almonds too, supporting the alcohol metabolism.
These are just a few suggestions. Create your own meals based on these ingredients for your own hangover cure. Don’t forget to rehydrate with plenty of water too. Enjoy the Festive Season!