Social distancing does not mean abstinence
The thought of St. Patrick's Day conjures up images of shamrocks and bagpipes, corned beef and cabbage, miles of green fabric and glitter. The number of Irish Americans is 7 times the population of Ireland, but this celebration of Irish culture is inclusive: everyone has the opportunity to be Irish for a day. A holiday honoring the patron saint of Ireland (who was actually born in Great Britain), St. Patrick's Day, for many, centers around "bending the elbow" or "wetting the old whistle."
However you phrase it, whether you're having a pint of beer or a shot of whiskey, St. Patrick's Day is the fourth most popular drinking day in the United States, following New Year's Eve, Christmas, and the Fourth of July. In fact, Guinness, the dark Irish stout brewed in Dublin, is served over 800% more on St. Patrick's Day than on any other day of the year.
St. Patrick's Day, which falls before Easter, became synonymous with drinking when Irish immigrants set aside Lenten restrictions and honored their patron saint with a feast. As the celebration has evolved with parades and parties, America's more than 40,000 bars naturally have taken the opportunity to run drink specials.
But this year's St. Patrick's Day will be markedly different from celebrations in years past. For the first time in 258 years, New York City postponed its annual parade, as did Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Dublin, Ireland. Bars and restaurants that host parties will not get the crowds they had in the past; hundreds of kegs of beer will not get tapped, and thousands of pounds of corned beef and cabbage will not be served.
Yet, social distancing does not mean abstinence. Despite the pandemic, drinks will still flow --- probably in the comfort of your own home with friends and family. And with the tradition of overindulging on St. Patrick's Day, hangovers are inevitable. The primary cause of hangover symptoms is dehydration. Ethanol, the intoxicating agent in alcoholic beverages, is a toxic chemical; it acts like a diuretic, causing increased urination and, ultimately, dehydration. The dehydration, in turn, brings on the headache and nausea.
While moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to have health benefits; excessive consumption, as with anything, is harmful. The most obvious prevention of a hangover is abstinence or, at least, moderation. But if restraint is not one of your most notable skills, then there are ways you can mitigate the effects of your revelry. If you plan to be "tipping a few" on March 17, consider ways you can forestall a hangover or at least minimize its effects. Employing the "hair of the dog" remedy only delays the inevitable.
Since ethanol is a toxin, consider the following steps to remove the poison from your system.
1. Drink plenty of water. Try alternating a glass of water with each beer or glass of whiskey. It will offset some of the effects of the alcohol and also give you more control of your alcohol consumption. Drink plenty of water before going to bed; keep a glass of water by your bed and drink it if you wake up during the night. Filtered water is preferred to avoid introducing other chemicals into your system.
2. Eat a good meal before you embark on a night of heavy drinking. Food with a natural fat content slows the rate at which alcohol leaves the stomach and is absorbed into your system. Suggested foods are salmon, avocado, olives. Alcohol depletes vitamin B, so you can replenish that by opting for nuts rather than potato chips or popcorn.
If you plan to eat after a night of drinking, try to avoid pizza and greasy fast food. Reach for chicken, bananas, eggs, pickles, citrus, crackers, or spinach. Restore yourself with a batch of natural vitamin water with some berries, cucumber, mint, ginger, and lemon.
3. Get up and get out. Movement, exercise, and physical activity are great ways to increase circulation, get your lymphatic system moving, and assist in detoxing your body.
4. Enjoy a sauna. Using a full spectrum infrared sauna daily helps with everything from pain, energy, and mitochondrial support to - you guessed it - detoxing! The Thera360 Plus is the most advanced portable full spectrum infrared sauna in the world created for the ultimate detox experience.
The three leaves on the shamrock symbolize faith, hope, and love --- sentiments to which we can all turn these days. The fourth clover leaf represents luck. On this St. Patrick's Day may that luck be with us all. But the "Luck of the Irish" will not prevent a hangover. Moderation and mindful consumption will help. Slainte !
May your days be many and your troubles be few.
- Melody Besner