Myth: Mixing drinks gives you a worse hangover
If you start the party with a couple of glasses of champagne, followed by red wine and a brandy nightcap, will you be worse off than if you’d just stuck to one type of drink? All the evidence says no – it’s the total amount of alcohol that counts, not the number of different sources.
Dark drinks such as red wine, whisky and brandy will make you feel worse because, in addition to the alcohol, they contain large amounts of substances called congeners – toxic impurities formed during fermentation. On the other hand, drinks like beer which have a high water content will keep you better hydrated, and hence feeling better than you would after an equal amount of alcohol consumed from neat spirits, say. Sticking to light-coloured and fewer drinks, interspersed with plenty of water, is the key to minimising the chances of a hangover.
If the horse has already bolted, you can ease your discomfort with painkillers and rehydrate with plenty of water or sports drinks ( which can also help replenish lost electrolytes). There’s anecdotal evidence that eggs (which contain cysteine, a helpful amino acid), toast with Vegemite (which will replace salts, sugars, B vitamins and other lost nutrients) and some coffee or caffeinated beverage (although not too much, because caffeine also dehydrates) can help perk you up.
Verdict Prevention is more effective than cure.
Myth: One drink a day is better than none
Over the years, researchers have managed to convince many of us that one drink a day is better than none – that is, light drinkers will live healthier, longer lives than teetotallers. While this has been welcome news for drinkers, as more research comes in experts are increasingly divided on the benefits of even a single drink a day. It seems in many cases, the people who say they don’t drink are likely to have health issues – possibly even caused by drinking in the past – that caused them to stop drinking. When Australian researchers reanalysed some of the data, taking this into account, they found there was no advantage for light drinkers over life-long teetotallers.
Verdict Enjoy the odd glass of wine by all means, but don’t drink for the sole purpose of obtaining health benefits. And just because one glass of wine is OK, it doesn’t mean two or more is better!
Myth: A detox regime can rid your body of dietary excesses
“Detox” or “liver cleansing” diets and kits that promise to purge your body of toxins can seem an appealing antidote to indulging in too much alcohol and rich food – a fast track to the new trim, glowing you. However, our bodies are already well equipped with self-cleansing mechanisms, and detoxification occurs on a continual basis in the body. The lungs, kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract, skin and immune system all play a part in effectively removing or eliminating toxins. Symptoms such as bloating and fatigue may be an indication of an unhealthy lifestyle, or a lack of vital nutrients due to poor eating habits – not of toxin build-up.
Verdict A week or two on a detox program won’t absolve you from all your health sins.