March 16, 2011

Are You St. Patrick's Day Ready?

  • What You Need To Know
  • Eating a carb-heavy meal will help slow the absorption of alcohol.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume.
  • Carbonated drinks are a recipe for a hangover.

"Just act drunk and no one will question you."

A day of color and social celebration in honor of Ireland's patron saint, Saint Patrick. Right? Well, it should be; however, nowadays it's really just a day of excessive alcohol consumption and misplaced inhibitions. Not surprisingly, most people have no idea who St. Patrick really was or that he was commonly associated with the color blue and not green. Yet somehow green got thrown into the mix and nobody even stopped to wonder why.
In all honesty, however, no one's to blame -- we were all too busy drinking.


1- Abstain
Want to avoid a hangover? Then follow the first step on our St. Patrick’s Day prep guide, which is to not drink before the drinking begins. This sounds difficult, but it's really quite simple. While it may take some sneakiness on your part, like drinking rounds of pure club soda and lying about the alcoholic content, it can be done. The key is in the delivery. Just act drunk and no one will question you. If all else fails, cite that you're driving or that you have a huge presentation in the morning and be proud in your soberness. However, be forewarned, while abstinence sounds grand, it isn’t exactly realistic.

2- Eat 
The next step in this St. Patrick’s Day prep involves eating alcohol-friendly foods. Most of us know to never drink on an empty stomach, but some are unaware that the types of food you eat before you abuse your insides can be important as well. Eating fatty foods that are full of dense carbs and lots of protein will slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. This is why folk remedies such as olive oil and milk are purported to work. While filling up on hangover-fighting foods will mean it'll take longer to feel that oh-so-familiar buzz, it also gives your body more time to process alcoholic byproducts, thus increasing your chances of feeling fine the next morning.

3 - Take a multivitamin
Alcohol depletes your body of the B complex vitamins and vitamin C. In fact, it depletes a handful of other vitamins and further impairs future nutrient absorption. The end result is a wide-reaching depletion of essential vitamins and minerals that can leave you feeling, well, hungover. The easiest solution is to cover an entire array of vitamins and minerals by taking a decent multivitamin. Take one before drinking or just after and you may notice a difference when you wake.

"From a pure cost-benefit perspective, pacing yourself far outweighs the need for speed."


1- Pace yourself
With age comes wisdom, and it is perhaps a fault of youth to think that you need to get as drunk as humanly possible in the shortest amount of time. From a pure cost-benefit perspective, pacing yourself far outweighs the need for speed: it will preserve your cash flow, it'll lessen the chances of a hangover and it will increase your chances of chatting up an alcohol-marinated female.

2- Stick to beer (or clean spirits)
The point here is to be consistent with your choice of alcoholic beverage. Mixing will only increase the amount of crap floating around in your bloodstream. Though St. Paddy's is usually a celebration of beer, clear spirits (like vodka) have fewer congeners (impurities developed from the fermentation process) and are thus less likely to mess with your liver. If you can't help yourself, just follow the old adage: Beer before liquor, never sicker; liquor before beer, in the clear.

3- Avoid carbonation
If you do choose to dance with lady liquor, paying attention to your lady's dance partner is a steadfast way to prevent downstream agony. Carbonation in sodas or champagne will increase absorption of alcohol into the blood; in other words, it will get you drunk and sicker a lot quicker. Excess sugar in sodas can also contribute to the morning blues. Your best bet is to mix with a fruit juice or plain old water. Adding a little bar lime mix or just lime on it's own to your vodka water can spice things up a bit if you need flavor.

4- Sip water between drinks
Building on the last point, there is no rule saying that you can't sip a glass of water between alcoholic beverages. The general rule of thumb is to go 1-for-1, but that's probably not realistic. So, whenever possible, just throw back a glass of water. If you must, sneak one in on a solo trip to the bar, or just come up with an excuse like you made out with some girl and she left a bad taste in your mouth.

So, as you run around with a big green clover painted on your bare chest, spilling as much alcohol as you’re drinking, do your best to remember these prep rules and enjoy the celebration, my friends.



Da' Vane said...

Actually, the best way to avoid a hangover is to understand what a hangover is - excessive dehydration caused by the consumption of alcohol.

Alcohol is a diuretic, which causes the body to lose water instead of retain it. This tends to make us thirsty, so we drink more, often more alcohol, so we build up more alcohol in our system, and thus become dehydrated. Once we've done drinking, we often fail to regulate our hydration afterwards, and suffer the consequences the following day, which is a hangover.

While your points largely deal with coping with the amount of alcohol in the system, alcohol itself is rarely the issue, unless you consume too much and thus suffer from alcohol poisoning, which is too much alcohol in the blood stream at any one point.

Dehydration is caused not only be the lack of water, but also the lack of salt - these get washed out as you purge water from your system. You need to replace them, otherwise, regardless of how much water your drink, you will get a hangover. This is why people eat more salty foods after drinking.

The recommendation to drink water between drinks is false. This will make you feel worse. This is because the diuretic effects of alcohol means that your body will not retain water for a significant period AFTER you stop drinking. So, all you are doing is putting water into your system to have it pass straight through and flush out. Instead, if you do skip drinks, make sure it has something in addition to water - which pretty much means juice or soda.

Water should only be an option once you have finished drinking, and even then most likely before you turn in for the night - to replace the fluids you will lose while you sleep and your system breaks down the alcohol and diuretic effects dissipate.

Always allow yourself recovery time for 24 hours after drinking. This is when you will be rebuilding your fluids and replacing the effects of alcohol from the previous night. You will need to keep well hydrated, and you should consider a high-salt breakfast/lunch once you can handle it, to replace lost salts, especially if you never ate any salty foods the night before.

This advice is sound - not only does this come from my studies in human biochemistry, but I've been using it for the past 10 years now, and I have never had a hangover, even though I know how to drink (and party in general, in fact).

Bee said...

Well then, I guess I've been told.

Disregard previous post, y'all.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Sounds like you have a big fan there, Bee.
Tell us more Miss Science.

For the record, everything you mentioned has been helpful for me in the past.
Thank you for caring enough to post, even if it was completely debunked by some know-it-all.


Bee said...


I got the information from MedicalNews today and general knowledge (plus having a holistic health degree helps, though they never had a chapter on over-consumption of alcohol, per se.)

Hope you have a good one!

Da' Vane said...

I didn't actually debunk anyone - Sheena is talking about alcohol responsibility during drinking, which is important for many things, including avoiding alcohol poisoning. You can't get to hangover prevention and aftercare if you because you've consumed too much alcohol during the course of drinking.