Head off a New Year hangover

Marking the end of what’s been a challenging year for many is a good reason to celebrate. But waking up on 1 January with the mother of all hangovers is perhaps not the best way to start the New Year. So how can you make merry without paying the price the next day?

Firstly, aim to be well hydrated before you start drinking. So have plenty of water, herbal teas or diluted juices during the day.

Next, don’t drink on an empty stomach. Food will slow down the rate at which you absorb any alcohol and protect your gut lining from irritation. The old wives tale about drinking milk is best ignored, however, as it’s a common allergen and encourages mucous production. Best to eat a meal that combines protein and slow-releasing carbohydrate – for example, grilled fish, brown rice and green vegetables, or meat with new potatoes and red cabbage.

When you start to drink, aim to pace yourself. Diluting wine with sparking water or spirits with mixers is one way. Or have a glass of water between every alcoholic drink to slow down your intake.

Also, choose your poison wisely. A good quality wine, preferably organic, will contain less of the additives that can worsen your hangover than cheaper wines. Research has also found that clear spirits – for example vodka – are better tolerated than darker liquors such as brandy or bourbon. And mixing your drinks can make any hangover far worse, so aim to stick to what you’re drinking all night.

A hangover occurs because you’ve overloaded your liver’s capacity to detoxify the alcohol. So anything you can do to support its work will help to alleviate those morning-after symptoms of throbbing head, nausea and disturbed mood.

B vitamins and vitamin C help your liver to detoxify alcohol, while the amino acid glutamine can help to repair any damage to your gut. Before you go to bed, take 2000mg of vitamin C and a heaped spoonful of glutamine powder (approximately 5 grams) in a large glass of water. Do the same when you wake up, and have a hearty breakfast with your daily supplements, including some extra B vitamins in a B Complex formula.

Finally, if you do over indulge to the extent that you’re reaching for the painkillers the next day, aim to relieve the discomfort first by drinking lots of water and then eating a meal containing both carbohydrate and protein. Painkillers will only add to the load on your already struggling liver. And if you must give in, best to opt for paracetamol over aspirin or other non-steroid-anti-inflammatory painkillers, as these can further irritate an already fragile stomach.

Have a happy new year!