Have you given up on New Year's resolutions? Was it your experience in the past that you wouldn't stick to them anyway? Maybe it was just that the goals were too loosely defined ("lose weight") or too big ("run marathon") and that's what's tripped you up. Here's a list of good places to start, if you're only going to do one thing for better health.
Energy drinks may give you wings, but do you know where those wings might be taking you?
Many people avoid cow's milk these days, and the reasons are manifold: Allergies, intolerances, dislike, animal welfare and health concerns all play a role. But if you can't have milk, will you still be able to get everything you need?
So, here it is at last: The Sugar Tax! Many health professionals – and not least Jamie Oliver – have been calling for it, and with good reason. We now know that sugar is detrimental to health for a very wide variety of reasons, many of which I have explored on this blog already. But will the sugar tax cut the mustard?
With Christmas and the Christmas Party Season behind us, most of us have by now had their fill with rich food and alcohol. But one great party night – New Year’s Eve – is still ahead of us. Yes, most of us will have a few drinks – again -, but armed with a few tips, you may be able to welcome 2016 as fresh as a daisy anyway. Probably the most common symptoms of a hangover are headache and thirst, closely followed by tiredness, listlessness and sensitivity to light and/or noise. Many feel nauseous and dizzy, some experience diarrhoea. Other possible symptoms are anxiety, depression, moodiness and irritability, not to speak of the very common ‘blackout’ – alcohol induced temporary amnesia. Altogether not a pretty picture. Nobody wants to feel like this, and yet we keep inflicting this avoidable condition on ourselves time and time again.
Needless to say: The only true cure is not to drink alcohol in the first place. You could volunteer to be the designated driver – although it can sometimes be taxing to be the only sober person in a group of revellers who are getting more and more inebriated …
If you are going to drink – and let’s face it, most of us do like a few drinks on New Year’s Eve – try the below.
On New Year’s Eve
Eat before you drink. Alcohol is absorbed straight through the lining of the stomach. If your stomach is empty, that process is very fast. So, have a proper dinner first, ideally one containing fat and protein.
Drink water throughout the evening. Alcohol makes us go to the toilet more often and we can end up dehydrated. Did you know that hangover headaches are caused by your shrinking – dehydrated – brain tugging at its tendons? Apart from helping us to stay hydrated, alternating alcoholic drinks with water means that we will drink less alcohol.
You may come across advice to take a painkiller, such as aspirin or paracetamol before bed in order to avoid a hangover the next morning. However, aspirin can irritate the intestinal lining and therefore make gastro-intestinal symptoms more likely and/or worse. Paracetamol puts extra strain on the liver, which will be busy enough trying to process the alcohol. So, my advice is to stay away from such drugs. It might be a good idea, however, to support your liver with milk thistle (e. g. by A Vogel) on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
When you go to bed, take make sure that there is water by your bedside.
The morning after
You will have heard of ‘the hair of the dog’ as a hangover cure. You won’t need me to tell you that drinking more alcohol is not the way to relieve a hangover. You’ll only suffer for longer.
While many crave caffeine to wake them up after a night of drinking, this is just another toxin you are asking your liver to handle. Take a break from caffeine today and stick to water or herbal teas.
All those trips to the toilet the night before didn’t just mean a loss of water, but also of ‘electrolytes’. Electrolytes are minerals that control nerve and muscle function, blood pH, hydration, and the repair of tissue after injury. Both dehydration and over-hydration lead to imbalanced electrolytes and some of the symptoms of hangovers are attributed to them.
Top up your magnesium by tucking into green leafy vegetables. A green smoothie would be a perfect drink. Just this once, add a pinch of good quality sea salt to replenish sodium levels as well.
Other nutrients you lose with water are water-soluble vitamins: vitamin C and those of the B-complex. B vitamins are involved in energy production, and low levels can leave us feeling dizzy and tired. Foods rich in B vitamins are eggs (also a good source of magnesium), avocados, mushrooms, brown rice, wholegrain bread, cauliflower, fish, seafood and nuts
A great breakfast would be a slice of wholegrain rye bread topped with eggs Florentine (eggs on a bed of wilted spinach) or a spinach and mushroom omelette. If you are really hungry – and hunger can be another symptom of hangover – you may find room for some avocado there as well.
After breakfast, go back to bed if you can and rest. Sleep and rest is the best cure for a hangover.
Maybe on New Year’s Day you’ll resolve to give your body a break and take it easy for a few weeks in January. Chances are, you won’t really like alcohol much after the party season anyway. If you would like some extra support, why not join me for my Gentle Online Detox ProgrammeGentle Online Detox Programme beginning on 17 January (Day 0 – with meal plan and shopping list)? You will be receiving one email per day with valuable nutrition and detox information for just £1.50 per day. That’s less than even the simplest coffee from a fancy coffee shop!