Yesterday, I suggested you go ahead and enjoy a glass or two of wine with dinner. It’s good for you! And it even protects your brain against dementia. But any more than a glass or two per night on a regular basis can lead to trouble. In fact, drinking too much, even over the short term, is extremely toxic to your tissues. Fortunately, two natural remedies may help protect your tissues from toxins and oxidative stress. I’ll tell you about those in a moment.
But first, let’s cover the basics of why drinking too much is never a good idea…
Of course, your liver bears the initial burden when you drink too much. It’s your body’s first line of defense against any chemical. Including alcohol. It breaks down harmful agents before they enter into general circulation.
But excess alcohol irritates and poisons your liver cells–and causes them to die off. Eventually, scar tissue replaces the dead cells. But as new liver cells multiply to replace the poisoned cells, they grow trapped within the scarred boundaries of the liver. This causes “cirrhosis” of the liver. (Which literally means scarring of the liver.) And the damage is permanent.
Alcohol is also toxic to other tissues in your body. Including tissues in the pancreas, heart, colon, and breast.
Drinking too much alcohol can also cause a chemical “byproduct” called acetaldehyde to build up in your system. This chemical causes oxidative stress and toxic effects in all your tissues. Plus, acetaldehyde is a known carcinogen. For most people, limiting how much they drink keeps acetaldehyde levels in check. It gives your system more time to convert acetaldehyde to acetate, a less harmful substance.
So, as I said yesterday, make moderation a rule to live by. Especially when it comes to alcohol.
But in reality, most of us have slipped up and had too much to drink on occasion. Maybe at a wedding or another special occasion. Or as an inappropriate way of responding to stress. So, what should you do on the rare occasion when you do indulge too much? Is there anything that can help?
Of course, when a hangover hits, most people reach for an anti-inflammatory drug, like aspirin or ibuprofen. And that is fine, once in a while. Just don’t ever use Tylenol.
As I often warn, Tylenol is a dangerous chemical all by itself. But when you combine it with alcohol, it can turn even more deadly. And it can land you in the hospital with liver failure.
But is there a more natural approach that can help prevent the hangover in the first place?
You see, your cells burn alcohol, in effect, just like any carbohydrate. Actually, your body chemically adds oxygen molecules and eventually “burns” the alcohol down. But alcohol is also a powerful diuretic and drinking alcohol dehydrates you. So, always make sure to drink plenty of water. Or better yet, stay hydrated on a cellular level with Red Joe South African rooibos.
I watched the Super Bowl earlier this month with friends in South Florida. And some of them over-indulged during that disgrace of a football game. So I gave them some Red Joe. They couldn’t believe how much it helped their hangovers.
One important point: You need to take Red Joe before you go to bed. If you wait until the morning after, you’re too late. The dehydration and oxidative stress has already occurred. Then use another packet of Red Joe when you get up the next morning.
Red Joe works well for hangovers because it keeps you hydrated on a cellular level.
Another approach involves boosting a helpful enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). This enzyme converts acetaldehyde to the less toxic acetate metabolite. Interestingly, some East Asian populations lack the ALDH enzyme function. So when they drink alcohol, they react with flushing and alcohol intolerance.
The amino acid taurine may help boost your ALDH levels. And clinical studies suggest that consuming three 500-mg capsules of taurine one hour before and after drinking alcohol protects against toxicity. Other studies show that taurine prevents alcohol damage to liver cells. In addition, it appears to have anti-inflammatory effects and prevents increases in blood pressure. In lab animals, taurine reduced oxidative stress as well.
Light-to-moderate drinking can definitely help lower your stress levels. It also benefits heart health. And it can help you stay mentally sharp as you get older–probably by improving blood circulation to the brain. But avoid heavy drinking. Nothing good comes from it. But, if you happen to slip up, make sure to stay well hydrated with Red Joe. And you can consider giving taurine a try to help detoxify your tissues.
- “Nutraceutical strategies for ameliorating the toxic effects of alcohol,” Med Hypotheses 2013;80(4):456-462