During the month of December, most western hemisphere companies entertain their employees in lavish parties with abundant food and free flowing alcoholic beverages.
Sadly, many young employees drink too much, create scenes, endanger themselves, and nurse hangovers of monumental proportions.
Hangovers are unpleasant physiological and psychological repercussions of excessive alcohol consumption, accompanied by severe discomfort, headaches, drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, gastrointestinal complaints, sweating, nausea, anxiety and hyper irritability.
Hangovers occur due to accumulation of acetaldehyde that precipitate changes in the immune system and glucose metabolism, cause dehydration, acidosis, palpitations, vasodilation, and sleep deprivation.
Acetaldehyde (CH3CHO) is one of the most important aldehyde contained naturally in coffee, bread, ripe fruits, yoghurt, and all alcoholic beverages; it is commonly believed to be the most potent cause of hangovers. Acetaldehyde is the most toxic component of alcohol, and a precursor of acetic acid.
Acetaldehyde makes the nervous system hypersensitive to light and sound impacting brain cells
Alcohol complicates REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, prevents undisturbed sleep, dehydrates the body, and is responsible for repeated absorption of liquids by kidneys, reduces the magnesium in blood, causing headaches, heart malfunction, and adversely affects blood circulation to the brain.
Ethanol in alcoholic beverage is metabolized and forms acetaldehyde and formic acid.
After ingestion, alcohol is converted to acetaldehyde by enzymes called dehydrogenase, and then to acetic acid by oxidation.
Acetaldehyde is 10 to 30 times more toxic than alcohol itself and affects different races differently. East Asian and North American First Nations are more susceptible to alcohol, while the Irish or English can tolerate it better.
If you want to prevent a hangover, drink no more than one 5 per cent ABV bottle of beer (375 ml) per hour, or 125 ml of wine at 12 ABV, or 30 ml. of 40 ABV distillate and adhere to the following:
- Avoid home made alcoholic beverages
- Do not keep alcohol in your mouth for long periods
- Dilute alcoholic beverages after sipping with water
- Take amino acid L cysteine before drinking to neutralize acetaldehyde
- Barrel aged distillates contain higher amounts of acetaldehyde than clear ones i.e vodka, gin, tequila
- Eat fatty foods before drinking
- Avoid excessive amounts of barrel aged distillates
- Ingest activated carbon pills to prevent malodorous flatulence
- Stick to predetermined moderate amounts of alcohol per hour (see recommendations above)
- Avoid mixing clear spirits with soft drinks and fruit juices
- Avoid drinking excessive amounts of dry and sweet wines during a meal
- If you have a hangover try to eat fried foods, rest; drink as much water as you can
The best way to avoid hangovers is to be a disciplined consumer, use common sense, and listen to you body’s signals.