When it comes to the party season it can be really challenging to enjoy all the festive events and still take good care of your health.
Late nights and calorie-laden food are challenging enough, but add to that excessive amounts of alcohol and you come out the other side (usually in the New Year sometime) feeling less than fabulous.
"The good news is there are some key strategies you can follow that will help temper the ill effects of the silly season, whilst still enjoying yourself," Amie Skilton, nutritionist, naturopath and BioCeuticals educator told The Huffington Post Australia.
"Ultimately you need to make a conscious decision on how you’re going to manage your intake."
Some things to consider, said Skilton, are:
- Look at your diary, plan ahead and be mindful of your weekly intake. How many social engagements do you have? Work out if and how much you can afford to drink health wise and plan accordingly. It is perfectly OK to go and have a good time without drinking alcohol every time.
- Don't drink on an empty stomach -- for several, obvious reasons.
- Aim for roughly one alcoholic drink per hour. If possible order one drink at a time -- it can be harder to keep track if the waiter is free pouring wine for example.
- Alternate each alcoholic drink with water to maintain hydration and space out your alcoholic drinks. This doesn’t have to be boring - sparkling water with a twist of lime or lemon is a great way to do this (in a short glass it will pass for a vodka, lime and soda).
- Consider electrolyte replacements at the end of the night (make sure it contains magnesium) to help combat the dehydrating effects.
- Increase your daily intake of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables, especially deeply pigmented produce and crucifiers vegetables -- the antioxidants will help buffer some of the free radical damage alcohol causes.
"Alcohol consumption not only depletes a number of nutrients but also causes free radical damage which depletes mitochondrial DNA in the liver, brain heart and skeletal muscles - feeling tired and foggy anyone?!"
If you are consuming alcohol regularly it is worth considering the following, advises Skilton.
Alcohol depletes many different nutrients, especially B vitamins -- a good quality multivitamin every day is a great place to start, and on days that alcohol is consumed -- take a second one at lunchtime. Vitamin B3 is especially important as it is required for Alcohol Dehydrogenase (ADH) and Aldehyde Dehydrogenase (ALDH) -- these are the primary enzymes involved in alcohol metabolism.
Alcohol metabolism also affects our zinc levels as ADH is a zinc-containing enzyme. Zinc administration may also improve the metabolism of alcohol.
Alcohol is really irritating to the gastrointestinal system and its sugar content may also have an impact on your gut flora. To support gastrointestinal health taking probiotics regularly is recommended.
The herb milk thistle has protective and regenerative effects on the liver. It is worth considering supplementation to buffer alcohol-induced liver damage. The herb is not only a powerful antioxidant but can reduce the level of inflammation in the liver as well.
Coenzyme Q10 is an energising antioxidant with numerous benefits that include protecting the brain from the full impact of alcohol-induced damage. It appears that the addition of quercetin helps it work even better.
Acetyl-l-carnitine has also been shown to provide a protective effect on the brain against alcohol-induced inflammation and degeneration.