At the risk of sounding like Ronan Keating – life is a real rollercoaster isn’t it?
I think I have changed quite a lot since my youth. The bad parts have been getting progressively fatter and still not having bought a house or learnt a language despite my advancing years. On the plus side – I care less and less about what anybody thinks of me and about being wealthy or having many possessions.
The first time I tried it I was 14 sat in the shadow of a large building near my secondary school. Me and my friends did hours of research taking turns to sit in the shadows and observe our visibility from the road – our pulses rose every time a car drove by.
Phase 2 we begged a friend who looked unfeasibly old to buy 1 litre of grants vodka.
Phase 3 – we arranged a sleepover at the house of the friend with the most easygoing parents (definitely not mine).
Phase 4 – vodka demolished from our shadowy hideout – we tottered drunkenly down to the beach. Here we did the usual things that drunken teenagers do. You know – singing, crying, vomiting, threatening to skinnydip.
I could swear that we were followed by a police car at one point but nobody else remembers this.
We all woke up alive & feeling terrible the next day in a sticky puddle of pink puick (courtesy of the pink panther wafers ‘to line our stomachs’). We blamed our illness on ‘dodgy prawns’ and unbelievably got away with it!
My relationship with alcohol has changed a little since these halcyon days. I’m more likely to frequent a pub or restaurant now and red wine is my tipple of choice. Also I rarely vomit which I attribute to 6 trips to India and daily swigs of vile herbal tinctures.
So whats the verdict on what to drink, how much to drink and how to survive a hangover wellness friends?
Lets find out!
Yes all those rumours are true – stick to organic red wine wherever you can.
Red wine is full of the antioxidants polyphenols, resveratrol and quercetin. These fantastic molecules protect us from the ravages of free radicals. There is a raft of studies supporting the use of moderate amounts of red wine for its cardio protective, cholesterol reducing, diabetes fighting and obesity preventing qualities. Sounds too good to be true right?!
Well the science really does speak for itself on this one and the red wine intake as part of the mediterranean diet is thought to be one of the reasons that many in these communities live so long.
So why organic? What is the significance of this?
Well as so often is the case in our increasing corporate world mainstream wine can often be full of a load of rubbish!
The main offenders are……..
Clearly organic wines mean we stay clear of nasty endocrine and neuroleptic disrupting pesticides and any other nasties such as added artificial yeasts or sugar.
This a catch all word for sulphur dioxide (SO2) – a preservative. The jury is out on how injurious this is for health – this article by Kitchn outlines how regulated its use is and how few people really have a genuine intolerance (1%)
However for some it definitely causes sensitivity. There are no added sulphites in organic wines, though a small amount may occur naturally.
This is the million dollar question. There is so much conflicting information out there on this subject that it is crazy!
As far as the governmental advice goes – the guidance on units per week has recently been reduced from 21 for men and 14 for women to 14 units for both genders.
Of course there are huge differences in alcohol metabolism between individuals. We all have that friend who has one drink and goes red and rashy and inappropriate… Likewise we often have another one who can neck a litre of absinth and still be fairly coherent (I’m thinking of you Dom). But until cameras that you swallow to see inside your body get invented its probably the best guide we have to avoiding the downsides of drinking too much.
Alcohol is potent stuff – it is working on almost every organ of our bodies with the most important being our brains. That reliable warming of our stomachs on a cold and blustery evening, that helpful relaxing of inhibitions when you know you will be dealing with dullards from work. Elevation of the ordinary can be fairly addictive, as can escapism from stress.
Also alcohol is such a huge part of the social fabric of our lives that it can be difficult to navigate for the health conscious. Who wants to be labelled a party pooper or be perceived as judgemental?
So many of my clients tell me ‘I can’t drink in moderation so don’t bother asking me’
I get it – I struggle with moderation too – in my last year of working as a macmillan nurse I drank every day. This was in addition to Friday celebrations, Saturday bloody Mary’s and a pint with my Sunday roast. I got pretty fat and was always slightly hungover. Its a slippery slope.
I’m not going to explore alcoholism here as its such a complex issue and I don’t think I can do it justice in this article. But it goes without saying that if you feel worried about this (or others are worried about you) get help!
Its so important to get it sorted quickly.
The best advice I have for you is to avoid drinking in the week. If one drink turns into 3, your units will quickly multiply and by the time the weekend rolls around you will be tipping the balance beyond what is healthy.
Drinking can be very habitual.
The ritual of sitting down with a partner to bitch about the day, the enjoyable enhancement of the taste of your sweet potato and coconut stew or just simply the enjoyment of getting a little high!
If you find it hard to stop after 1 drink it is important to replace this habit with something else. Every other guide online will tell you to meditate or do yoga. Now if you enjoy this – go ahead – both are highly effective relaxation methods with hundreds of studies supporting their efficacy.
But if you are tired and its cold outside and you can only bear to curl up on the sofa – try this instead…..
Essential oils are so much more than just nice smells. They are powerful concentrated plant essences which are unrivalled for emotional support. I recommend using Do Terra oils for their high quality and the fact that most are pure enough to be safely taken internally. Balance (a blend of spruce, Ho wood, frankincense, blue tansy and blue chamomile) or lavender is great in a diffuser – you only need 1 or 2 drops. The effects are genuinely impressive and can be enhanced by rubbing the oils into the hands and soles of the feet.
We have all been there. Waves of nausea, terrible thirst, irritability, headaches and a desire to eat utter rubbish.
Looking at some other guides on how to manage them from other nutritionists has been quite amusing.
Somebody in this article advices porridge. Porridge?! I get that its helpful – carbs, quick to make etc but I have NEVER eaten this when hungover.
I always crave savoury foods so….. how about a savoury porridge?
Savoury porridge or ‘congee’ is the business – all the stodgy carbs that you crave while being easy to digest and protein rich!
The other thing to do is to drink loads and loads of water. The main reason hangovers suck is because you are deeply dehydrated so swig the clear stuff till you feel better and your pee is straw coloured.
As you might suspect there really is no miracle cure. Sorry.
The other reason that you can feel rubbish is because of an accumulation of toxins due to the liver being temporarily rather busy.
If you can bear it go for a run or a sauna and sweat them out.
Too fragile? Get chugging green juice (make one with avocado and coconut milk – its not the day for hardcore wheatgrass stuff) And…….
This herb aids liver detoxification and can help symptoms when taken before and after drinking. I have been known to drop it into my alcoholic drinks but it does taste pretty gross so I started doing it on my in-between waters instead – much nicer.
I use this stuff – from Indigo herbs.
Do you struggle with healthy drinking? Let me know in the comments – I love to hear your stories.
If you want a bit of help drinking less, eating better and/or help with a chronic heath condition – come and book an appointment with me in Soho for a more in-depth assessment – mention reading this article to get 50% off!
Antioxidants for vasorelaxation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8919657
Antioxidants and heart health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17311968
Red wine for lowering cholesterol: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15674304
Red wine & diabetes: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080402212428.htm
Red wine and obesity: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2012/120404KimPiceatannol.html