Happy New Year Hangover.

The morning after blues. Hangover Fallacies.

Hair of the Dog?
Even though the thought of a Bloody Mary may appeal to you, a Virgin Mary is a much better choice the morning after. "The worst thing to do is to have another drink," says Charles Cutler, MD, an internist in Norristown, Pa. "The alcohol may temporarily help your symptoms but could hurt in the long run. Hangovers make you feel horrible because alcohol is toxic, Dr. Cutler explains, and you need to give your body a chance to recover. That morning drink could lead to an even worse hangover the following day."

Coffee: Eat light and stay hydrated, agrees John Brick, PhD, an alcohol research scientist and author of The Doctor’s Hangover Handbook. Caffeine narrows your blood vessels and boosts blood pressure. "Both of these may make the hangover worse," Brick says. "If you drink coffee regularly, you might try a very small amount in the morning. Wait 30 to 60 minutes and see how you feel."

Alka-Seltzer contains sodium bicarbonate (also known as baking soda), which will help settle a queasy belly by neutralizing stomach acid. Still, other ingredients, notably aspirin and citric acid, may irritate your stomach after a night of heavy drinking.

A 2005 review article in the journalBMJ identified eight peer-reviewed, placebo-controlled studies of hangover remedies, and concluded that "no compelling evidence exists" to support their use. Dr. Cutler suggests taking a multivitamin instead to restore the nutrients your body lost during a binge.

Conventional wisdom holds that the dehydration caused by heavy drinking is what makes you feel so sick the next day. In fact, experts actually know very little about what causes a hangover. Potential culprits include disrupted biological rhythms or even alcohol withdrawal, and research suggests that congeners—toxic substances found in alcohol, especially dark liquors such as whiskey—may also play a role.
Nevertheless, replacing the fluid you've lost will likely help you feel a little less miserable. "Juice, water, Gatorade, all those things—they're going to make you feel better," says Dr. Cutler.

Think you can "sweat out" the alcohol and other toxins you may have consumed during a night of partying? Think again. A sauna can cause potentially dangerous blood vessel and blood flow changes in your body. "The last thing you need is to disrupt the normal blood-flow patterns by extreme heat," Dr. Cutler says.
If you're already somewhat dehydrated, excessive sweating can be harmful, and even deadly. Researchers from the Finnish State Alcohol Company's Research Laboratories, in Helsinki, warn that sauna bathing while hung over carries "real health risks," including dangerous drops in blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms.

Long story short, and my recommendation as a Certified Nutritionist?

Water, water, water.
Drinks lots of water after a drinking binge to flush the alcohol toxins out of your system faster and rehydrate your body. However, most people are a bit nauseous the next morning and can't handle drinking water or anything else. Ginger root helps a great deal with nausea, but if you can manage to get passed the initial nausea, drinking water will improve your upset stomach because it will ease the dehydration sickness and toxin overload.

Pump up on your Bs:
Alcohol destroys many vitamins but especially B vitamins, which are necessary for proper nerve function. Those aches and pains you feel with a hangover are linked to the loss of B vitamins causing your nerves to flair up. Take a B complex because B vitamins should all be taken together and not one more than another. B vitamins are water-soluble which means they are not stored in the body so you need to take them every 8 hours when they get flushed out of your system. This will help tremendously with the headache, aches and pains associated with a hangover.

Food?
It takes a minimum of at least 3 days for the body to flush out toxins, so eat very nutritious meals for the next three days after a drinking spree. Smoothies and juices will help flush the toxins out and replace needed nutrients to get you back on your feet quicker. Pamper your stomach because it just took a major beating. Stick to fresh fruits and vegetables to give it a break and neutralize the excess stomach acid created by alcohol.

Lastly:
The best thing you can do for your body is learn to have fun without getting drunk. Alcohol is not a requirement for having a good time as most of us have been lead to believe by advertising. You body is telling you alcohol is poison and you shouldn't be drinking it. Ignore your body and you will always pay the price for it. Listen to your body, it knows what it does and does not need or want. It will start out sending you subtle messages and if you keep ignoring it, it will hit you over the head with a sledge hammer to get you to knock it off. It will be a hangover now, but persistent drinking leads to vitamin deficiencies that cause all sorts of long-term health problems; including cancer because your immune system is being compromised.

 

And Next Comes the New Year's Resolution Diet.

In reality, you should be calling this your New Year's Detox, because after the indulgences you subjected your body to over the holidays, your body needs to be flushed out first before it can even think about a diet; and a good detox will jump start your diet efforts.

Last New Years we covered the basics of how to go about a healthy detox, so if you've never done one before, that's a good place to start. You can find the article in our archives or click here. This time around we will discuss the more physiological aspects of dieting: will power that is.

first of all, most people defeat themselves right from the start by thinking of a diet as deprivation. That sets you up to fail because you are starting off with a negative attitude toward it right from the get-go. Don't think of a diet as everything you will have to give up, and don't think of it as being long term. Those two mind sets are a death sentence to your diet before it even gets a fighting chance to work.

I encourage my nutrition consulting clients to not even call it a "diet." Instead, call it detoxing, a nutritional vacation, a change of pace, anything that doesn't have a negative connotation to it. You should think of a detox or diet as doing yourself a favor, not a burden. After all, it done right, you will benefit from it a great deal by having more energy, feeling better, clearing up your skin, having a brighter outlook and looking and feeling leaner. Also if it is done right, you don't have to be on a diet for the rest of your life.

You've heard many people talk about the biggest drawback to binge dieting; which is that you will gain it all back. This is true, because you will go right back to the way you used to eat before the diet as long as you are thinking of it as depriving yourself. We don't like to feel deprived, thus we hate dieting. If there isn't anything about it that feels good to you, you won't do it, and worse yet, you will revert to old habits because they are more rewarding for you due to the fact that you are going back to something you deem rewarding: eating what you want. A successful diet is as much about changing your frame of mind about food as it is about what you eat.

Due to food allergies I have developed later in life, I've had to give up chocolate: a thought which would have devastated me when I was a teenager because I practically lived on the stuff. Which makes me wonder if that isn't the very reason I have a problem with it now: that I overindulged on it when I was young. But when I honestly think about chocolate, it's flavor, it's "reward" for me, I realize it is not the big deal I made it out to be. That there were a lot of other flavors that I liked just as much as chocolate without the harmful side effects. In other words, I gave chocolate much more power and importance than I should have; going without it was only going to benefit me and going back to eating it was hurting my body more than it was satisfying my "I want it" urge.

Just like smokers who have a difficult time giving up cigarettes when they are around somebody else who is smoking because they smell it and crave it, I had the same problem with being around chocolate or seeing someone else eating it. When I would stop and think about the way chocolate always makes me feel: that it gives me a migraine, causes my hormones to go drastically out of balance, and ultimately will harden my arteries, it wasn't hard for me to give it up. I just have to keep reminding myself every time I get the urge to eat it that it's not good for me and thus there is no "real" reward in it. The same concept works for any food and dieting. We all know which foods are bad for us and those we shouldn't be eating, yet we do it anyway. Why? Because there is a psychological reward in it for us and no other.

So...you have to put food in perspective. What is it's "real" purpose? Foods true purpose, and only purpose, is to nourish our body; provide the vitamins, minerals and nutrients we need to survive. It is NOT to eat because it tastes good and thus makes us feel good psychologically- as most people think and live their lives by. When you know that food manufacturers deliberately put fats, sugars and salts in foods to make people crave them, you KNOW food should not be eaten for taste alone, yet that is exactly how we eat every day. We eat what we like, we eat what tastes good to us, we eat for flavor, not nutrition.

When you start looking at food for nutritional value rather than taste, it's much easier to put it in perspective - where it should be. Americans especially, make food a recreation rather than a practical, purposeful event. A means to an end which is to stop from starving to death or becoming sick and malnourished. Binge eating is 100% psychological, people do it because it satisfies them for some reason, makes them feel good mentally, when they don't know how to find any other way to achieve the same feelings. It doesn't satisfy or even benefit their body in the least. So successful dieting is all mind over matter.

Putting food in perspective is the number one way to conquer that feeling that you are giving up foods that are bad for you thus depriving yourself. In reality, you are depriving yourself by eating bad foods because they make you overweight, feel horrible, rob you of your energy and vitality and ultimately your health and life. If you really thought about it, you could probably come up with at least 10 "good" foods that you like the taste of as well. And when you give up on that feeling that you are depriving yourself by not eating bad foods, it's easy to give them up. You may have to remind yourself of this concept each and every time you reach for a "bad" food, but that is what it takes: to constantly remind yourself that in reality, you are not doing yourself a favor by eating it, and in reality, you are not depriving yourself one bit by not eating it. Putting food in perspective - where it should be - makes it much easier to treat it like it should be. Food is not an indulgence, but either a benefit or detriment to being a better you.

The other mind-set to change is to stop using food as a way to celebrate. We do it with everything. Thanksgiving Day is celebrated primarily for most people by a big, lavish dinner. We go to games, parties, family reunions, even funerals, and we eat. We need to stop associating food with celebration or comforting. It is none of those things. Food is nutrition, that's it. It's not a way to party. The partying part is due to being with people you enjoy, not food. Yet we always put the two together, as if we cannot enjoy someone's company without food too. It's fine to get together with others and eat food, as long as you don't start associating food with that satisfying feeling of good company with others. The food had nothing to do with it. The point being, as Americans, we associate food with all the wrong feelings. Food is not a feeling. Its a means to an end. It's necessary for survival. That's all it is.

After a good, healthy detox to set your body up and get rid of harmful toxins and fats, make your New Year's resolution to change the way you think about food. Everything else, including all the benefit, will follow. And once you get so you are eating better 90% of the time, you can have that indulgence every once in a while, so don't think of this as giving anything up: just prioritizing.

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- Ask a Nutritionist

- Ask an Herbalist

- The brain needs some healthy time too?
Stop by The Cyber Lounge on your way out.

- Also see the Motivity Page for Mental Health.

- Find more health articles in our Archives and health product reviews are in The Hangout. But you must be a Circkles.com member to access those pages.

This health section is updated monthly to give our members a chance to view it, so check back the first of every month for new posts. Disclaimer: This page is designed to offer information only on topics the average person can use themselves. It is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

Nutrition Calculator: Type any food into the nutrition calculator below and it will bring up all the nutritional and dietary statistics on that food, which can come in very handy when planning your diet for weight loss, less fat, more fiber, less sugar, deficiencies or nutritional requirements regarding certain health concerns.

HOME REMEDIES: Upset Stomach, Fullness, Bloating.

With the holidays upon us, this seemed like an appropriate remedy to feature this month.

Plant Enzymes: Bromelain and Papaya Enzymes will help you digest that big holiday meal much better and stop you from becoming so bloated, experiencing heartburn or other digestive problems from eating rich, heavy foods that you're not used to. Plant enzymes work much better than animal-based enzymes because they can sustain the acid of the stomach and actually make it to the intestines where they will do the most good.

Fresh Ginger Root: Works wonderfully for nausea and helps digestion. This was the basis behind ginger ale years ago, but these days, you would be hard-pressed to find any real ginger in most ginger ales.

Pineapple Juice: Organic, 100% real pineapple juice that's not diluted with other fruit juices contains bromelain, a powerful digestive enzyme that will help process that big meal or rich dessert. Raw, fresh pineapple would be best. If you can find some way to incorporate it into your dessert, or as an after-meal palette cleanser possibly with some fresh ginger root, your guests will appreciate it a great deal.

Fresh Fennel Seed: Is excellent for gas and bloating. Fennel seed has been used to combat colic in babies. Try to find the freshest (greenest looking) seed in the spices section of any grocery store.

 

HERBS:

How to use herbs for maximum benefit. Short and sweet descriptions and uses written by our on-staff Nutritional Herbalist. Always remember that herbs should be treated as a medicine. Almost all of our modern-day medicines are derived from compounds found in herbs and plants. If you have not used a particular herb before, try a half dose at first to make sure you do not have an unfavorable reaction to it.

Don Quai Angelica polymorpha var. sinensis (Chinese Angelica)

Medicinal Properties: Internally for menstrual, post-partum and menopause problems. Also acts as a mild laxative, sedative and painkiller.

How to Use: Make a decoction by simmering 1 Tbsp of ground root in 2 C. of water. Use 1 Tbsp of this decoction at a time in 1 C water. Not to exceed 1-2 cups of tea a day for 1 week. Tinctures, extracts and capsules.

Parts Used: Root.

Growing: Native to East Asia

Warning: Can be a skin allergen

Some Herb Basics: Most herbs work better on an empty stomach. A few exceptions are garlic, goldenseal and cayenne due to stomach upset. Herbs work in a cumulative fashion meaning they are not a "one dose wonder." They need to build up in the system a little, usually within 2-3 doses, before any real affect can be noticed. Fresh herbs always work better than old herbs and science is always proving the fact that a whole herb usually is more effective than one isolated compound of that herb.

 

FOODS THAT HEAL:

Do you know what foods will give you more energy, calm your nerves, act as an anti-inflammatory, help prevent cancers, or help you lose weight? Hopefully this column will help you to have a better understanding of food and its healing properties. The best diet for optimal health is a wide variation of foods, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and minimally cooked whole foods. Sweets, fatty foods, meat, dairy and carbs in moderation.

Cocoa / Chocolate:

Therapeutic Properties: Although many cocoa manufacturers would like consumers to believe there are benefits to consuming cocoa, this delicacy contains caffeine and theobromine which are both stimulants affecting the central nervous system and causing high pulse rates. People sensitive to caffeine should avoid chocolate and cocoa. Can cause fibrocystic breast disease, migraines, atherosclerosis and all other caffeine related conditions.

Acid or Alkaline: Extremely acidic and can cause irritations of the stomach lining and heartburn. Contains oxalic acid which is harmful in large doses because it interferes with calcium absorption which can cause kidney stones.

Significant Nutrients: Dark chocolate contains copper which helps to prevent cardiovascular disease but there are safer foods that supply copper such as raisins, nuts and molasses. Chocolate has been heavily promoted as an antioxidant, but again, there are healthier and much safer antioxidants out there as well.

Phytoestrogen? Yes.

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You can find more herbs and home remedies in The Circkles Hangout under the Main Menu. (Sorry, you must be a subscriber of Circkles.com.)

 

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January 2014

Health
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"The Doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease."
~Thomas Edison