IT's December, the countdown to Christmas has begun and those all-too familiar words ‘fancy a drink after work?’ are being thrown around more and more.
During the festive season - a.k.a the ‘silly season’ - it can be easy to get caught up in all the excitement with a quick drink turning into an evening singing Fairy tale of New York at the top of your lungs.
It can be difficult to prevent a hangover if you don’t prepare properly, however follow these simple tips and it may become a distant memory.
There are strategies to reduce that hangover, and according to a 2007 study, blackcurrants stand out, because they help the body break down alcohol. Plus, they stimulate the body's antioxidant systems to alleviate symptoms when you drink too much.
Here are our top ways to help you enjoy the festive season and avoid regretting you’d stayed in by the fire!
Drinking water after alcohol is one of the best ways to keep a hangover at bay.
It may seem obvious, but after a heavy night it’s crucial you rehydrate. When you drink alcohol, your body sends water straight to your bladder instead of absorbing it into your system. This is all down to alcohol inhibiting the production of the chemical vasopressin. It is also the reason you may need to go to the toilet more often (leading to further dehydration!).
The solution? Before you head out, put a pint or two of water beside your bed.
That way you’ll remember to drink it when you get in and will help to avoid that dry mouth and headache the next morning!
If your night was unplanned, make sure you grab a bottle of water for your journey home.
2. KEEP TRACK, SET LIMITS AND AVOID THESE DRINKS
Know your limits and don’t be tempted by that extra drink that might just tip you over the edge. If you’re not quite sure where your limit is, try drinking water or non-fizzy soft drinks in between each alcoholic beverage. This will give you time to process how much the alcohol is affecting you, and will also help to keep you hydrated.
Avoid: carbonated or fizzy drinks as they speed up the absorption rate of alcohol in your system.
Dark-coloured alcoholic drinks are also a no-go as these contain a chemical called congeners – these irritate blood vessels and tissues in the brain and can be responsible for making that much-feared headache feel even worse!
3. SET YOURSELF UP!
Drinking on a full stomach will help to slow down the body’s absorption of alcohol, helping to keep you in control.
NEVER drink on an empty stomach. Make sure your lunch is substantial and includes plenty of carbs such as pasta or rice. Fats are also great!
4. TAKE BLACKCURRANTS
According to Professor Derek Stewart, of Scotland’s prestigious James Hutton Institute research hub, blackcurrants are unique when it comes to hangovers.
Professor Stewart, (left) an expert in the health benefits of plant-derived foods, says components found in the fruit boost production of key enzymes - known as ‘alcohol dehydrogenase’, or ADH, and ‘aldehyde dehydrogenase’ - which break-down the booze in your body and help flush it out of your system.
Professor Stewart says: “Blackcurrants are unique in that they also contain chemicals which actually speed-up the process of ethanol oxidation - the breakdown of alcohol inside the body.
“Blackcurrants are rich in anthocyanins which can act as a powerful antioxidant. They and their metabolites support the body’s own antioxidant system to alleviate some of the damage caused to your body when you drink too much.”
In 2007, Dr Stewart led a study which labelled blackcurrants as the ‘number one superfruit’, having compared the properties of 20 different fruits.
He found that blackcurrants are potentially capable of warding-off heart disease and Alzheimer’s and concluded: “The combined beneficial composition and impact in health-related studies mean that blackcurrants can claim to be the number one superfruit."
We recommend taking one or two capsules before going out - or if you forget, take with a large glass of water before bed and again upon rising.
5. THE BEST PREVENTION?
Finally, the tactic we highly recommend and the simplest of them all to prevent a hangover… don’t drink!
Alcohol isn’t the key to a good night and no-one wants the fear of unknown embarrassment as they walk through the office doors in the morning!
Swap your cocktail for a mocktail and try cycling into work. Knowing you need to cycle home sober takes away the temptation to give in and have a couple - and completely takes away the worry of being hungover the following day.