By now, we all have recovered from the New Year's festivities and have had a few days to digest the damage some of us did to our bodies. Now, this is not a post about being high-and-mighty because, truth be told, I found myself feeling a bit under the weather the day after consuming several mixed drinks and glasses of wine to ring in the new year. But are there natural hangover remedies?
Most of you know my life and experiences revolve around optimal digestion and gut health. So I know
that after consuming so many adult beverages in a short amount of time was not necessarily great for my belly, or for my head as well. I had a hangover most of the day; a hangover that wasn't debilitating but very certainly very unaccommodating to my active lifestyle. And I'm sure you probably would have done the same, but I was so miserable that I googled things like, "natural hangover remedies" and "best hangover remedy ever."
But before we answer what are good and bad hangover remedies, let's discuss exactly what it is and how it affects our bodies when we drink more than enough. It's important to discuss a few thoughts on alcohol, alcohol consumption, and hangovers and how the gut processes these toxins in our bodies, and more specifically, what is a hangover and could a hangover be reduced through better digestion.
I woke up (after “sleeping” for 5 hours) and felt horrible and unrested. I'm sure plenty of you have felt the same way, so I wanted to give some 50,000 foot overview ideas of what alcohol is. Just to clarify, this post is not one where I talk about why you shouldn't drink alcohol; or chastise you for over-consuming. I simply want to discuss how your body reacts when you consume alcohol and how it tries to repair itself when you stop drinking alcohol.
So what is alcohol? Alcohol is simply a fermented by-product of a fruit or a grain. So, let's think about this fermentation process. Fruits and grains are mixed with other ingredients and the natural yeasts in this environment react with other certain chemicals in that same environment to create alcohol or ethanol. This alcohol or ethanol has been created from the yeasts found in this mixture. It's thhis alcohol or ethanol that creates that “buzz” feeling, but it also becomes a a toxin in our bodies.
What do I mean by toxin to our bodies? Toxins are things that have no nutritional benefit to our bodies. When you ingest toxins, because they are not beneficial, your body tries to fight it and get rid of it as quickly as it can. When you consume a significant amount of alcohol, your body gets overloaded and overrun with toxins that it can't process or assimilate at one time. All of those leftover toxins are then free to roam about your body and left on their own to wreak havoc with our other bodily systems.
Overloading our body with toxins could be said about eating an unhealthy or fast-food diet. The body absorbs too many toxins in the junk foods people consume at one time, and the leftover toxins are ultimately stored as fat. When you add these limited nutritional diets and a night or two of excess alcohol consumption, you can see the body get extremely overloaded, especially the adrenals and the liver, trying to get rid of the unwanted guests.
So what other parts of our body are affected? When you consume alcohol, your liver has to work really hard to get rid of and break down the alcohol through the production of enzymes and other toxin-fighters produced by our bodies. But what happens when our liver has to work overtime to do that function? It can't focus on one of it's main functions, which is supply glucose to the tissues and our brain for fuel. When you drink a lot of alcohol at one time (and the liver cannot adequately dispose of it), your body cannot provide the fuel needed to live and function properly. That is why you feel lethargic, weak, or lightheaded the next morning. The body doesn't have enough glucose.
We've discussed alcohol, what about the ethanol produced through excessive drinking, how does that affect our body during a hangover? Physiologically, ethanol increases urine production. This explains why we go to the bathroom frequently when we drink. On the surface, one could say that this seems like the body is doing it's job and trying to get rid of the toxins, but this increased urine production ultimately can lead to dehydration. This all leads to what I consider to be the perfect storm of opportunities to feel horrible in the morning.
But all is not all completely lost. I wanted to provide you something more than knowledge and that you could use and share what I consider to be my Hangover Alleviator. Again, the easiest way to eliminate a hangover is to not drink, but if you do decide to consume adult beverages and have a bit too much, this recipe of mine is a good opportunity to provide a little bit of natural energy with some natural foods.
What is this Hangover Alleviatory? It's a drink made with the following items:
The first thing I use is a lemon. I love the lemon because it's alkaline to the body. When you drink alcohol, it creates an acidic environment or very toxic environment on the inside, so a lemon helps to bring the body to a more stable balance and help stabilize the blood sugar.
Once I have the lemon, I'll cut it in half and squeeze as much of the juice as I can out of it into a glass. Next, I'll use a bit of raw, organic, and unpasteurized honey. Try really hard to get the raw organic variety, and if you can't find that, just make sure the honey hasn't been pasteurized. Unpasteurized honey is antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal, all things we want for a hangover.
I'll put 1-2 teaspoons of the honey with the lemon juice, and then I'll add about 1/8 teaspoon of the cayenne pepper. Cayenne is a natural stimulant, but it's also a natural pain reliever, so it has double benefits. It's one of my favorite spices, so I enjoy using it. If you have an upset stomach, add some ginger. I'll normally add it anyway, so grate some ginger for those stomach woes.
The last food item I add that you may not be familiar with is spirulina. I have this in my cabinet and love using it. Spirulina itself is one of the most complete sources of nutrients of any food on the planet and can be found at most health food stores. It increases blood flow which is definitely needed during a hangover. Once I've mixed all of these ingedients, I'll add the mixture to one of my premium honey kombuchas or probiotic sodas and stir well. (If you don't have any of my drinks, water will do).
Now, the next part is crucial, but sip on it over 15 minutes or so. You don't want to gulp it down, but just sip it to let your body get used to the ingredients and assimilate the properties of those ingredients.
If you don't have any of these ingredients, or are not capable of driving to the store, try to always have something like a B-complex vitamin on hand that tends to help alleviate a lot of the symptoms. If you go the route of taking pills, remember the old bit of advice to also drink lots of water.
Common sense would tell you that if you don't like the hangovers, don't drink. But as I've often found out myself, I don't always have common sense. So if there is a time when I feel a bit under the weather due to my over-consumption of booze, I'll try to give my body all the tools it needs to get rid of those pesky and unwanted toxins that are the results of living the high life.
If you enjoyed this post, hit the Like button below and let me know. Or better yet, it anyone in your circle of friends drinks a bit more and has a hangover, share this as well.
Bonus: As someone who believes foods is the greatest piece of "medicine", it should work hand in hand with your life and lifestyle, even those times when we have had a bit too much excess. I've found that foods can actually go a long way to restore our body to optimal health, especially after drinking. I've put together a list of foods that can certainly help to speed up the recovery process of a hangover. Click here to get my time saving list.
Who Am I?
I am just someone who likes to talk about health, is obsessively passionate about gut health and digestion, and is on a personal mission to ferment just about anything. This blog is a continuous flow of those thoughts.