The dreaded hangover is pretty much guaranteed to make an appearance at some stage during summer's festivities. With all the Christmas parties, NYE, barbecues and long lunches that carry on well into the balmy night, this time of year is all about excess - including, on occasion, excessive amounts of alcohol. Of course, the only surefire way to prevent a hangover involves not drinking. But if that doesn't sound reasonable (or remotely appealing), there are a few things you can do to help your body deal with the after-effects of a few too many.
1. N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC)
This miracle powder packs a major therapeutic punch when it comes to assisting your liver to detoxify the harmful metabolites left over from a night of indulgence. NAC works to increase glutathione levels and break down acetaldehyde - the toxic byproduct of alcohol metabolism that's responsible for most of the symptoms of a hangover. Take 1000mg in water on an empty stomach as soon as you get up; it also works well as a prophylactic if taken before drinking.
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Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it has a dehydrating effect on the body. Replacing these lost fluids is the single most important step in the recovery process. Coconut water works well to help to replenish lost electrolytes, speeding up the rehydration process. Have a large glass of water on waking and continue to sip throughout the day.
Spirulina is a nutrient-dense microalgae that has a detoxifying, energising and alkalising effect on the body. It also works to fight the free radicals left over from alcohol metabolism and replace vitamins and minerals that have been depleted by a night of drinking. Take 2-4 grams of spirulina when you wake up, just before breakfast.
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Many people crave eggs for breakfast when they're hungover - and with good reason. They are an excellent source of protein, which provides the liver with the amino acids - especially cysteine - needed to pack-up toxins for elimination. Being easily digestible, eggs are also gentle on upset stomachs.
5. Take your vitamins
The diuretic effect of alcohol increases the loss of water-soluble vitamins, including the B complex and vitamin C. These vitamins are essential for energy production, detoxification and protection against free radical damage. Their depletion will worsen the symptoms of a hangover and increase the time it takes for your body to recover. Take one B complex vitamin with breakfast and up to three 1000mg doses of vitamin C throughout the day.
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6. The ocean
There are some things that a dip in this ocean cannot cure, but a hangover usually isn't one of them. Get yourself to salt water and let the healing begin.
Skip the greasy food typically associated with a hangover and instead fill your plate with fruit and vegetables. Antioxidant-rich foods like berries, green tea, tomatoes and dark green, leafy veggies will assist your body to neutralise the free radicals left over from alcohol metabolism. Liver-supporting foods including cruciferous vegetables, turmeric, bitter salad greens, artichoke and lemon will help your liver deal with the extra burden.
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If you're up to it, sweating out some of the toxins can make a world of difference to how you're feeling - get to a sauna, to the gym or a hot yoga class and atone for your sins with a sweaty session. This method should only be employed to battle a mild hangover; if you've been sick or nauseous, skip it. Be sure to drink plenty of water to avoid becoming even more dehydrated.
If you're feeling nauseated, ginger works well to settle an upset stomach. Use a ginger tea bag or steep fresh ginger root in hot water and sip slowly.
10. Go back to bed!
If none of the above has worked, it's time to throw in the towel and give your body what it needs, rest.