Save your liver!

Celebrating Christmas
Save your liver!

It’s hard to avoid overdoing it on the alcohol when the Christmas season approaches. There’s plenty of opportunity to over indulge with wine on special offer at practically every supermarket, and new flavours of Baileys being launched (yes, I know we all buy it for our parents but end up drinking it before the end of the first week in December…)

Then, of course, there are parties, gatherings, invitation over for Christmas drinks and before you know it, your liver is groaning in anticipation of another morning after the night before…

It’s Alcohol Awareness Week this week, from 19th to 25th November, a well-timed reminder that we only have one liver and that we need to look after it!

There’s plenty of advice and guidance out there if you want to know how to be sensible and keep your liver (and the rest of you) healthy over the indulgent Christmas and New Year period.

• Women shouldn’t drink any more than 14 units of alcohol per week, which means no more than three units per day and two alcohol-free days every week. If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, the advice is that preferably you shouldn’t drink at all, but if you decide to indulge it shouldn’t be more than 1-2 units, once or twice a week.

• Men should drink no more than 21 units a week, shouldn’t have any more than four units in a day, and they also need to have at least two alcohol-free days every week.

Check out the NHS website for more detail on calculating units: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/alcohol-units.aspx

Meanwhile, I think it’s safe to say that most of us will over indulge during the festive season, and it’s a good excuse to pre-empt any potential damage. Naturopaths have been recommending milk thistle to support the liver and help to detoxify an overloaded system for a long time, and it’s easy to get hold of from a health food shop. The herb helps your liver to process toxins faster and it’s even recommended by Jancis Robinson, the well-known wine expert. If she doesn’t know a trick or two about staving off a hangover, nobody does!

There’s also a new product on the market which claims to banish hangovers! The Bytox Hangover Prevention Patch is a totally natural product that packs a punch of vitamin B complex through a patch you wear on your skin. It hasn’t been officially endorsed, but according to its makers, you simply pop it on about 45 minutes before you plan to go out on the town and leave it there for up to eight hours after you’ve finished painting it red. It works by replacing all the B vitamins that alcohol kills.

If you want to banish that sluggish feeling you get in January after overdoing everything for weeks, you could try a home detox? Or why not treat yourself and a drinking buddy to a spa detox? It’s the perfect excuse to get away from it all and perk yourself up after Christmas when we’re all feeling a bit blah…and what’s more, it solves those little Christmas present problems because you can just buy a spa voucher and gently suggest a package at somewhere posh that’s offering post-Christmas detox packages. Grayshott Hall in Surrey has a great two-day detox package complete with a body wrap and reflexology thrown in, and lots of healthy food; Ragdale Hall offer a Pure Detox day where you can enjoy a detox treatment and a foot treatment along with your healthy buffet. Keep an eye out for brilliant deals in the New Year, too, when everyone want to perk up their sluggish system after a few too many days on the rich food…

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