How to drink alcohol without ruining your health
I can't really ask you not to drink - it's almost Christmas after all - and you probably have a party to attend every night (sometimes two) where the drinks list is longer than the menu. So I won't, because you would anyway not listen. But I can show you how to minimise the damage, and also (believe me) actually manage to score some nutrients through that glass of utterly empty alcohol calories (that just go sit on the waist) with the help of some smart mixology. Follow these tips:
Remember pure alcohol is clear. Clearer the better. So whichever drink you choose (beer, wine, rum), the darker your drink, the more congeners (extra components) it contains, which can leave you feeling more hung-over the next day. Congeners affect blood vessels directly, producing migraine-like effects and intensifying a hangover. As a rule, the lighter the colour, the fewer congeners it is likely to contain (vodka and gin are better than whisky for this reason).
Alcohol reduces the kidneys' ability of holding water, so they begin putting more water into the bladder thus increasing dehydration. So it's important to down a lot of water along with your alcohol. I say alternate a glass of water, with alcohol. It will help you pace the drinks better too.
Beer belly! Need I say more? Beers are extremely high in calories - about 150 for a can of regular beer and light beers (with lesser alcohol) pack about a 100 calories per can. But invariably one ends up knocking a few more back and consuming more calories and alcohol. So be careful.
Choose your cocktails with care. For example beware of the Bloody Mary mix! If you're watching your sodium, this is not a good choice! There's just too much sodium in there. And think carefully before you pick up those popular giant-sized cocktails; they are absolutely teeming with diet-annihilating calories. Sample: a long island iced tea may have close to 800 calories in it. Yes! After all it has five different kinds of alcohol - vodka, tequila, rum, gin and triple sec, sweetened premix and cola. Margaritas and pina coladas are all upwards of 600 calories too. Totally devilish! A wine spritzer (soda and wine), mimosa (orange juice and champagne) or a sangria (fresh fruit, fruit juice, club soda and wine), on the other hand, give you only about 100 calories. Compare and drink. Also adding some fruit and fibre to your drink instead of canned juices and syrups is a good idea. This way you cut off the extra calories and add some fibre and yes nutrients too to your drink. Win-win!
Give brandy a buzz. Put a sugar cube in a mug. Fill the mug two-thirds full of boiling water and top it off with 30ml brandy. One study has actually pointed out that a shot (30ml) of brandy can give you the equivalent antioxidant potential of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. Now I really don't know how far this is true, as there haven't really been any follow-up studies, but the study does add a bit of a halo around the spirit for sure.
Finally after the drink fest remember to replenish some of the B vitamins you've lost away drinking. Take a multivitamin, and to hydrate drink as much water as possible before going to bed; it might be unpleasant but has to be done.