I love alcohol for the wild fun times it can be, but I hate it for how deceiving and toxic it can be for our health. Personally, I think there are other natural mind-altering substances out there that have better spirit-lifting and consciousness-expanding effects on the mind without all the toxic effects of alcohol. That being said, alcohol has been part of human culture for thousands of years and I still think it can be an enjoyable, healthy experience if we can mitigate the negative health effects (and if alcohol works for you as an individual). So here are all the effective health hacks I know of that can help combat hangovers.
Cold shock therapy is one of the most effective ways to beat a hangover by stimulating healing effects in multiple systems of the body, including detoxification, digestion, immune system, circulation, nervous system, hormones, etc. It also combats the aging and inflammatory effects of alcohol and can greatly improve sleep if you can get a cold shower in before bed.
Exposure to nature and sunlight is one of the most healing things we can do for our bodies. Being in nature has been proven to have a plethora of physical health, mental health, and energetic benefits, so naturally it helps to reverse the damage alcohol does on the body and fight hangovers.
Stop drinking a 2-3 hours before bed. Alcohol disrupts our circadian rhythm by preventing us from falling into REM sleep, which is needed for deep rest. Lacking deep sleep not only makes us feel hungover on its own, but it disrupts our organ’s detoxification and dampens the immune system. So if you’re able to leave a couple hours between drinks and bedtime, you will wake up feeling much more refreshed.
Movement not only cleanses the blood, stimulates lymphatic drainage, boosts the immune system, and lowers inflammation, but it’s also a mood booster! We have to remember that our body is in a stressed state when hungover, so exercising too hard might make things worse. Listen to your body and try to get a balanced level of movement in throughout the day.
Drinking a cup of water with every alcoholic drink actually works. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it dehydrates the body and depletes it of nutrients. When our body reaches the point of dehydration, it disrupts our detoxification, energy production, brain function, etc. which cascades into hangover symptoms.
Eating food while you’re drinking also helps to reduce hangover symptoms by replenishing the body with nutrients that are depleted from the alcohol. In addition, it helps your body to break down the alcohol more effectively and reduces its toxic effect on the body.
Choose your battles with toxins. Just because you’re not being the nicest to your body with alcohol, doesn’t mean you have to completely self-sabotage with other toxins. Most junk foods have the same blood sugar destabilizing, toxifying, and nutrient depleting effects on the body as alcohol does. Eating nourishing foods (and avoiding inflammatory foods) before, during, and after drinking can make a huge difference in hangover severity. If you feel like not worrying about these foods is better for your mental health and it outways the hangover symptoms, then DO YOU. The healthiest choice will come from a place of self-love and protecting your health in a balanced way.
So what should you eat to reduce hangover severity?
General rule: stick to real, whole, and organic foods that make you feel good as an individual when possible. Fresh vegetable juices, especially ginger and turmeric, will help bring inflammation down and cleanse the body. Getting enough healthy sources of protein and fats is also essential for keeping blood sugar stable, repairing gut tissue damage, and maintaining cognitive function. Since alcohol impairs digestion, cooked foods, soups, stews, and smoothies are more soothing on the gut and easier to digest during hangovers. In addition, here is a list of nutrients that are depleted from alcohol, along with their food sources and why we need them:
B-vitamins: pastured organic meats, eggs and dairy, wild cold water fish, dark leafy greens, organ meats, clams, oyster, and mussels.
Essential for mood, cognitive function, energy, and skin health.
Zinc: oysters, red meat, pumpkin seeds, and organ meats.
Needed for tissue repair (gut lining), immune system function, hormone production, skin health, and regulates inflammation.
Vitamin C: bell peppers, citrus fruits, broccoli, guava, strawberries, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and kale.
Important for immune system function, inflammation regulation, skin health, and helps us manage stress by nourishing the adrenal system.
Magnesium: Due to modern farming methods, it’s difficult to get enough magnesium from diet, so I always recommend supplementing with magnesium (at least 350 mg at night before bed).
Critical mineral for managing stress, mood, inflammation, digestion, muscle function, hormones, energy production, and keeping the nervous system in a calm state when needed (sleep).
Trace minerals: bone broth, real unprocessed sea salt, seaweed, and a variety of organic fruits and vegetables.
Trace minerals have a whole spectrum of benefits for health, including for proper hydration, digestion, nerve function, etc.
Calcium: organic pastured dairy, tahini, chia seeds, canned sadines and salmon (bone in), and beans and lentils (if tolerated).
Essential for immune system function, bone health, muscle function, and blood pressure regulation.
Iron: organ meats, lamb, eggs, oysters, clams, and shrimp.
Needed to carry oxygen from the blood to organs and tissues, immune system function, energy production.
Omega 3s: wild salmon, mackeral, herring, sardines, and organic pastured meats and ghee.
Important for cognitive function, skin health, inflammation regulation, heart health, immune function, and sleep.
Potassium: avocado, sweet and regular potatoes, spinach, watermelon, coconut water, black beans, and pomegranates.
Supports healthy nerve and muscle function, blood pressure, and the transportation of nutrients to cells.
You can use supplements in addition to these foods, but most supplement companies use unhealthy fillers or don’t produce effective formulas. On top of that, gene mutations, environmental factors, and health factors can influence whether a particular supplement is beneficial or not for you as an individual, so it’s best to consult a practitioner and do some research before trying supplements. Real whole foods are the best way to get our nutrients in. Please take this into consideration with the following supplement recommendations.
Supplements to combat hangovers:
NAC (N-acetyl cysteine): Alcohol causes damage on a cellular level, and NAC is the precursor to glutathione, our bodies primary antioxidant that protects against cell damage and supports liver health. Link here.
ALA (alpha lipoic acid): a potent antioxidant and also helps body produce glutathione. Link here.
Milk thistle is an bitter herb that stimulates liver detoxification and regeneration. Milk thistle can be taken in capsule or tincture form, and should always be sourced organically. Your can also use a blend of liver supporting herbs and nutrients like Thorne Liver Cleanse.
Vitamin C helps to detox the body, regulate inflammation, boosts immune system, supports the HPA-axis, and more. Pure powdered vitamin C or liquid lipo-spheric vitamin C are the most effective forms of supplementation.
Magnesium, as previously discussed, is a vital nutrient for multiple health factors. I recommend a pure form of magnesium powder without extra fillers, and I would also suggest finding a combination of magnesium, boron (needed for magnesium absorption), and calcium. I personally use ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Tablets because it includes a combination of trace minerals.
ACZ nano can help relieve hangover symptoms by boosting the immune system and detoxifying the cells. Link here.
Activated charcoal binds to toxins in the body and helps to flush them out. I recommend take Takesumi Supreme first thing in the morning, and then waiting an hour to eat food.
Alcohol impairs digestion by damaging the gut’s cell walls, causing intestinal permeability, and inhibiting the production of digestive enzymes.
L-glutamine is an amino acid that helps heal the gut by sealing the tight junctions in the gut lining and repairing the cells of the gut lining. It’s most effective when taken in powdered form.
DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) taken before and after drinking helps to coat the lining of the gut and protect it from damage.
Digestive bitters aid in digestion by stimulating your body to produce digestive enzymes to help break down food. They also aid in detoxification in your organs because they are made from bitter herbs. Digestive bitters come in a tincture form and should always be organic.
Be aware of what you’re drinking.
Organic tequila, vodka, and gin (drink plain or with sparkling water and some citrus) are the purest forms of alcohol and cause the least amount of damage on our health. When drinking wine and cider, checking the label to see if it’s organic and no sulfites added will save you from major hangover symptoms. Be aware that beer and wine contain yeast, which can contribute to a range of health issues for some people. Beer specifically contains gluten and mold toxins from the grains, which can also have negative health impacts. Because of sugar’s inflammatory, immune compromising, blood sugar spiking effects on the body, avoiding it in alcoholic drinks will help significantly reduce your hangover. Lastly, the mind is more powerful than we think. Worrying about alcohol and it’s negative effects on health while your drinking it will only make your hangover worse. So be smart with alcohol, don’t stress too much, and listen to your body.