Now that January has rolled around, many of us probably feel like our livers have taken a beating and are ready to resort to drastic juice detoxes to repair the damage. However, as always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Try taking steps to support your liver now, so you'll be left feeling less worse for wear come Australia Day. Keep in mind that this doesn't give you an excuse to continue indulging - as always, you get out what you put in, and the holiday season doesn't need to be a reason for you to throw all of your good intentions out the window! Try to keep everything in moderation, enjoy yourself and take steps to help your body stay resilient through your summer break.
1. Milk thistle
Milk thistle is a herb with powerful properties, providing protective and regenerative effects on the liver. This is one worth considering if you know that you'll be indulging in more champagne over the new year, as it may assist in buffering any alcohol-induced liver damage. Milk thistle is also an antioxidant that reduces inflammation of the liver- a double whammy!
Glutathione is often referred to as 'the master antioxidant', as it the most commonly occurring antioxidant found naturally in your body and is a triple threat: it is directly involved in detoxification of the liver, it neutralises free radicals (oxidised cells that can damage our healthy cells) and also reduces inflammation. This is a must if you plan to keep drinking through the new year and is best taken in the form of a supplement before and after indulging.
Ok, so probiotics aren't necessarily designed for your liver specifically, but they can play a vital role in keeping your gut in check during the holidays. Alcohol and processed, sugar-laden foods can wreak havoc on your gut flora (the delicate balance of bacteria in your gut), leaving you feeling bloated and compromising your immune system. Supplementing with a probiotic can help support your gut health during the holidays.
4. Vitamin B
Drinking alcohol depletes your body of a lot of nutrients. One group in particular that's severely affected is B Vitamins. Vitamin B3 is particularly important as it is required for the function of ADH and ALDH - two enzymes that are vital for detoxifying alcohol. Taking a multivitamin that includes B Vitamins on a daily basis is a great place to start. On days that you know you'll be consuming alcohol, give your body a helping hand by taking a second multivitamin with your lunch.
CoQ10 is an antioxidant naturally produced by your body, which protects against free-radical damage and also provides your body with energy. It also protects your body from inflammation, including alcohol-induced inflammation. Your body's natural CoQ10 levels decline as you age, particularly if you are physically active, so supplementation is a good idea if the silly season has left you feeling drained and sluggish. Be sure to look for Ubiquinol, the active form of CoQ10, as it is more readily absorbed by your body, leaving you sure to feel the benefits.
As always, there's no such thing as a magic pill to reverse the damage of alcohol on your body. However, practising moderation and supporting your liver with the right supplements can help ease the effects of what can be a stressful period on your body and leave you feeling normal by the time you head back to work.
Alcohol is dehydrating, and when your body is dehydrated, your liver in particular struggles to complete its main duty: to detox your body. It's therefore vital that you try to keep hydrated if you intend on drinking alcohol - especially in the warmer months. It can also help to restore vital electrolytes using a rehydration electrolyte powder after a day consuming alcohol, as it will more effectively and quickly restore hydration to your body.