How to reduce the negative side effects of drinking

hangoverBy Jana Taylor

Many people who aren’t regular alcohol drinkers like to imbibe on special holidays or occasions, but the next morning they invariably kick themselves due to the inevitable result of drinking more than planned.   But with a little careful planning and mindfulness, you might be able to reduce or eliminate the negative side effects of drinking.

First, let’s delve into how and why your body reacts so negatively to alcohol when consumed in quantities greater than you normally drink.

  • An excess of alcohol causes confused thinking, memory loss and even loss of motor skills. This is due to alcohol-suppressing neurotransmitters.
  • Water retention and dilated blood vessels can make your face appear puffy. Dilated blood vessels are also more susceptible to breaking, causing red eyes or skin tone.
  • Regular drinking can boost your chances of developing an irregular heartbeat, and other heart-related concerns.
  • Having a few drinks can lead to heartburn, and continued sustained drinking can lead to vomiting.
  • Drinking impairs your libido.
  • Drinking can weaken your immune system, making you more likely to get sick.
  • Drinking alcohol leads to dehydration, which can cause headaches.

There are definitely things you can do so that you enjoy an evening out drinking and socializing with friends.   These are by no means a fool-proof way to avoid negative consequences; instead think of these as helpful hints to reduce negative side effects if you know you are going to be drinking.

Know your alcohol and your limits

What types of alcohol are you likely to drink?  The amount you consume should depend on what you are drinking.   Beer has less alcohol than wine (12 fl. oz. of beer averages 5% alcohol vs. 5 fl. oz. of wine averages 12%), but a shot of liquor usually has far more alcohol content than beer or wine (1.5 fl. oz. of 80 proof spirits contains 40% alcohol).  Also, keep in mind your own weight and tolerance to alcohol.  If you are not a regular drinker, consider that your tolerance is going to be very low as compared to other people of the same weight who drink regularly.  Here is a handy guide to the alcohol content of many popular drinks.

Eat before you imbibe

Drinking on an empty stomach is a big no-no if you are looking to minimize the effects.  While it won’t prevent drunkenness, eating before drinking can slow the absorption of alcohol by the body.  What you eat is also important.  Focus on healthy fats and lean sources of protein; these will help to slow digestion and the absorption of alcohol.  Avoid foods that contain refined carbohydrates, like cookies, chips, and rice as they are absorbed quickly and won’t slow the effects of alcohol.  Here is a list of smart food choices that you can try.

Use a detox remedy

Using a natural homeopathic remedy (like Party Detox for instance) may help protect your stomach and support liver function which, as we all have heard, are pretty important aspects of reducing the effects of alcohol.   This product should be used prior to, during and after drinking for the maximum benefit.  Luckily it is discrete to carry with you and to take because it’s an oral spray.

Drink a lot of water before, during, and especially after drinking

Dehydration is probably the biggest factor in becoming hung over.   Drinking plenty of water not only helps you eliminate the alcohol from your system faster, but it will keep you hydrated.  Our resident doctor suggests drinking a glass of water between drinks as a way to pace yourself but also remain hydrated.

Try honey

This is another favorite of mine because I happen to like the taste of honey and because there seems to be some antidotal evidence that it does help reduce the effects of a hangover by metabolizing alcohol more quickly.

Armed with these tips you should be able to enjoy a night out without the worry of what will come the morning after!  But if you do find yourself in the unenviable position of having a hangover, at least you know it won’t last forever, and you can plan accordingly for the next time you decide to drink.

Jana Taylor Jana Taylor is a staff writer for Peaceful Mountain.