Quick expert tips on how to minimise alcohol damage
A cup of strong black coffee may be all you can face the next day, but it's also just the ticket to clear your mind and strengthen your liver. Researchers in the US found that drinking two-and-a-half cups of coffee a day can help reduce liver scarring (called fibrosis) that can lead to liver failure. Meanwhile, a Korean study found that a green tea habit can have a similarly preventative effect, not to mention all the usual health benefits from the antioxidant-rich brew.
Tempted by a trip to the nearest greasy spoon when you're hung over? Never mind your waistline, it won't do your liver any favours either. When Swedish scientists put healthy volunteers on a four-week fast-food diet, their levels of an enzyme associated with liver damage increased, and the fat content of their liver cells was also raised - not good news as a fatty liver is not a healthy one. Instead, recover with a carb-free breakfast of protein-rich scrambled eggs as the less carbohydrate you eat, the more fat you'll burn from your liver.
You may welcome the sight of a can of ice-cold lemonade (not least to place against your pounding head), but a recent study found that people who drank a litre of sugary drinks every day were five times more likely to develop a fatty liver. But put that pint of thirst-quenching OJ back in the fridge, too, because fructose-rich fruit juice is just as damaging. Drink a pint of water and get your vitamin C boost from an orange instead. Whole fruit contains fibre that can slow down the speed at which sugars are absorbed by your body, making you less likely to turn it into fat in your liver.
Better still, tuck into some live yogurt. Russian researchers have found that restoring the 'friendly' probiotic bacteria in your gut can help to boost recovery from alcohol-induced liver damage. possibly because they keep in check the 'bad' bacteria that give off damaging toxins.
That black coffee has given you enough strength to sit up, a light breakfast has put the colour back in your cheeks and you're no longer in pain every time the phone rings. Thinking about hair of the dog? If you're feeling well enough to consider another drink, you're well enough to face up to last night's intake! After a big night, it's easy to get hazy about exactly how many glasses you downed, but come on, do the maths. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that one in five women drink more than the recommended 14 units a week, and working women, who network and relax with a glass in hand, glug the most. 'No one's asking you to go teetotal, but the best thing you can do is give your liver a break by having at least two consecutive alcohol-free days a week,' says Professor Ian Gilmore, adviser to the British Liver Trust. So that's Monday and Tuesday on the wagon from now on, then!
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