How to detox from all the alcohol you've drunk at Christmas

Abigail Malbon
·4-min read
Photo credit: Jamie Grill - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jamie Grill - Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

This festive season might look a little different this year than most (understatement), but for many of us there's one thing we've been treating ourselves to just as much as in previous years; alcohol.

While 2020 has meant lockdowns and restrictions on eating and drinking outdoors, it hasn't but a stop to festive Zoom parties or a cheeky mulled wine with housemates. Plus, with Christmas plans for many having been ruined due to the last minute U-turn on rules, it would be totally fair enough if your Christmas Day plans consisted solely of watching Bridgerton with a big glass of Baileys (and the rest).

However - not to put a dampener on whatever fun we're legally allowed to have this year - overindulging in alcohol will certainly affect your body. But if you allowed yourself to be liberal with the glasses of wine in 2020, you might be thinking about detoxing in January 2021 instead. We spoke with Dr Luke Pratsides, Lead GP at Numan, who explained how to detox in the healthiest way possible - and not a dodgy tea in sight...

How to detox after drinking too much

"After a sustained period of drinking, it is nutrients that you need in order to get your body back on track," explains Dr Pratsides. He advises:

Eating regularly and having a balanced diet

It goes without saying that you need to feed your body well to get back to full health after not treating it well.

"Try to include green vegetables like spinach, lean protein like chicken or fish and a moderate amount of carbohydrates; brown rice or wholemeal pasta are best," Dr Pratsides says.

Avoiding sugar

Chances are you've been drinking sugary drinks, and your body may be craving more sugar to help in the short-term. However, Dr Pratsides says it's best to keep your sugar intake to a minimum. "Try to avoid refined sugar often found in processed foods, sweets or fizzy drinks," he explains.

Drinking plenty of water

Just like any other day, aim for 2 litres - and make sure you continue to rehydrate each day.

Cutting down drinking

"Lastly cut down drinking to no more than 14 units in a week and try to have at least 3 days break between drinking, to give your body a chance to replenish all it has been missing," says Dr Pratsides.

How does alcohol affect our bodies?

"Many people enjoy a drink over the festive period to celebrate with friends and family. However, sustained binge drinking can be detrimental to your health," Dr Pratsides says. "In the UK, binge drinking is drinking more than eight units of alcohol in a single session for men or six units of alcohol in a single session for women. Six units is two pints of 5% strength beer or two large (250ml) glasses of 12% wine. Eight units is five bottles (330ml) of 5% strength beer or five small (125ml) glasses of 13% wine.

Photo credit: Peter Dazeley
Photo credit: Peter Dazeley

"Alcohol contains a large number of calories, which are often metabolised in the body as sugar. These calories from alcohol are 'empty calories', meaning they have no nutritional value. The increase in calories through sustained binge drinking can have a significant impact on one's health through weight gain. Weight gain can lead to increased risk of high cholesterol and heart disease and exposure to more sugar can lead to diabetes. A pint of lager can contain the same number of calories as a slice of pizza, or a large glass of wine the same as an ice cream sundae.

"Sustained binge drinking over years can also increase the chances of one developing certain cancers including breast, mouth, throat, oesophagus, liver, and colon cancer."

Along with that, it can mean we're not taking proper care of our bodies; leading to even more problems.

"The increased calorie intake when drinking heavily for a sustained period means that the body no longer feels as hungry, causing people to eat less," explains Dr Pratsides. "This leads to higher chances of becoming deficient in vitamins like B12 and folate which are important for maintaining a healthy nervous system, plus calcium and vitamin D which are important for maintaining strong muscles and bones and protein vital for new cell growth, replenishment and repair.

"Of course, alcohol is a diuretic meaning it prevents the body holding onto water. Water provides vital hydration and is important in keeping all body cells and organs healthy."

Photo credit: Ekaterina Budinovskaya - Getty Images
Photo credit: Ekaterina Budinovskaya - Getty Images

So while you certainly won't be alone in indulging yourself after what's been, let's face it, a hellish last year, it's important to remember that regular drinking will affect your body, and detoxing isn't a "quick fix" for getting back to full health. As with anything, it's best to drink in moderation - and if you're seriously worried about the amount you're drinking, contact Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) through their website or on 0800 9177 650.

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