It’s college. So let’s cut the crap; there’s going to be a TON of alcohol (if you’re over 21 of course). Every Saturday night is another opportunity to let loose and get wasted. But let’s say you’ve made the Primal plunge. Now what? If you decide to drink and let loose like millions of college students do every year, what can you do to prevent that awful morning after full of headaches?
Let’s examine what the effects of drinking alcohol are on the body to understand what you can do to prevent a hangover. When you consume alcohol, your body becomes dehydrated. This happens because alcohol is a diuretic, meaning you lose more fluids than you gain when drinking it. You also go to the bathroom more when you drink alcohol, causing you to lose not only water, but precious electrolytes and minerals. Alcohol also decreases your body’s ability to produce antidiuretic hormone, which is usually used to reabsorb water. With this hormone blocked, you lose even more fluids than usual.
The biggest problem when it comes to college drinking is that it’s usually done in excess and in a very short period of time a.k.a. binge drinking. Binge drinking increases your chances of becoming dehydrated and getting alcohol poisoning which can send even the strongest, most in shape person to the hospital. So the first piece of advice, drink plenty of water throughout the day before you drink and in between drinks to ensure proper hydration. You may also consider drinking electrolyte-enhanced water or other electrolyte enhanced beverages to keep those electrolytes in high quantity in your body (just be sure to watch the carbs in those other drinks).
So besides dehydration, what other effects does drinking have on the body? Let’s talk about the liver. First, some background. Among hundreds of other functions, the liver:
- Filters blood and eliminates harmful toxins from the bloodstream
- Produces enzymes which break down fats
- Helps regulate blood clotting
- Stores a handful of essential vitamins (A, E, D, K) and minerals
That was certainly a lot to take in. But what of it? The real question for us is how to prepare our liver and prevent excessive damage when we do decide to drink. The answer comes in the form of saturated fats.
Our cell membranes are built of about 50 percent saturated fats. Ingesting adequate levels of saturated fats in your diet, specifically before you drink, guarantees the structure and rigidity of cells in the liver, even preventing some of the negative effects alcohol has on the liver.
Common healthy sources of saturated fat can be obtained from animal proteins like chicken, lamb, beef, turkey, pork, etc. The skins house a lot of the saturated fat so be sure to keep the skin-on when you go for that chicken breast (remember to always try and stay local, grass-fed, free-range and/or organic with your meats and poultry)! You can also find saturated fat in good-quality butter, coconut oil and avocado. If you’re eating out at a restaurant and you suspect they cook in vegetable oil, ask for your entree to be cooked in butter (at least you can still get some saturated fat in your diet instead of harmful vegetable oil).
So you’ve made it home after the party and as 8 . . . okay, maybe 9 a.m. rolls around you slowly meander your way out of bed and you wonder what you should eat this morning in order to stay healthy and keep preventing that hangover from coming. Almost every cafeteria has these, so this one shouldn’t be too hard—eggs.
Eggs are just a wonderful food; very Primal I might add. With a solid offering in protein and fat and a negligible carbohydrate content, these small, round, but powerful wonders offer benefits deeper than a mental energy boost in the morning. They offer all nine essential amino acids, the B-vitamin choline, the mineral selenium (which is thought to possibly have cancer preventing benefits!), and lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids which support eye health.
What’s really great about eggs after drinking the night before is the cysteine found within. Cysteine is known for its ability to break down hangover-causing acetaldehyde, a toxin created in the liver when alcohol is combined with other enzymes already present in the liver.
Let’s review. Before you drink alcohol, make sure you’re hydrated. You should be peeing clear and have drunk at least three liters of water and/or electrolyte enhanced beverage. Get your saturated fat in before the party to help protect the cells in your liver. When you wake up the next day, grab a hearty serving of eggs with your breakfast. Most important of all—don’t overdo it. Spread your drinks out over a few hours and always listen to your body. You are the best judge of whether you feel sick or not. If you do feel sick, stop drinking, grab some rest and if necessary, seek medical attention.
Oh and ladies and gentleman, please NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE. It’s just not Primal.