Alcohol and exercise don’t mix – UK government warning

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London: Many people enjoy drinking alcohol and then exercise the following day quite comfortably. While this fact sheet outlines the impact that alcohol can have on the bodyÂ’s performance during exercise, it is not designed to persuade people to change their exercising habits. It is intended to help you understand why you may not perform at your best after drinking.

Key facts from the UK Government’s Know Your Own Limits Campaign

Alcohol can affect your sport and exercise performance in two main ways, due to the effect of alcohol or its breakdown products in your body after drinking, or indirectly because of the effects of alcohol on your sleep, diet, level of dehydration etc, which can also affect your performance and efficient recovery from exercise. Below we have collected key facts from a range of authorities on the subject*:

If you have alcohol 24 hours before exercising you are more likely to develop muscle cramps.

Alcohol affects the body’s ability to create energy therefore it slows down reaction times, increases body heat loss and reduces endurance.

After exercising the body needs to be rehydrated. It’s not helpful to drink only alcohol as it will continue to dehydrate the body further.

If you sustain injury while exercising, and you have had alcohol the night before, or drink any alcohol afterwards [while injured], you are likely to increase your recovery time.

People often reach for vitamin B on the morning after night out. But even small amounts of alcohol reduce the bodyÂ’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals that are essential for converting food to energy, and helping repair body tissue after injury.

Alcohol and injuries

If you sustain an injury while alcohol is still in the bloodstream, even from the night before, the recovery time from the injury will increase.

· If you drink alcohol after sustaining a soft tissue injury, it may take longer to repair. This relates to two key factors:

· increased muscle swelling – alcohol dilates and relaxes blood vessels which increases muscle blood flow, hence the swelling

1 alcohol can mask the pain and severity of an injury, encouraging over-use

If you have been injured, avoid alcohol and seek medical treatment. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) is the best way to reduce swelling and speed recovery.

How alcohol affects you and sport

Speed: alcohol affects you even after you’ve finished drinking. Alcohol affects the central nervous system and slows down the information processing ability of the brain. This in turn slows down your reaction time, hand-eye coordination, accuracy and balance. Even a couple of drinks can affect your performance and perception.

Energy and stamina: the blood sugar that your body needs for energy is produced by your liver when it releases glucose into the blood stream. Alcohol keeps the liver too busy to produce this sugar efficiently. All of this means you have less energy and lower stamina.

No matter how much training and conditioning you’ve put in, a few drinks the night before can really take the edge off your fitness. When it is time to really ‘dig deep’, there might not be anything there.

Cramps: while exercising, your muscles burn up glucose, producing lactic acid as a waste product. Too much lactic acid leads to muscle fatigue and cramps. Alcohol that remains in your system contributes to greater build up of lactic acid. Therefore your risk of ‘cramping up’ increases dramatically.

Dehydration: the ‘dry horrors’ is the term used to describe an extreme symptom of alcohol’s diuretic (increased urination) effect. This extra fluid loss added to what you sweat out, means the risk of dehydration increases.

Performance: when you combine the effects of lactic acid build up, dehydration, and the body converting food to energy less efficiently, your aerobic performance is greatly reduced.

Alcohol and your muscles

Few people realise that consuming alcohol after a workout, practice, or competition can cancel out any physiological gains you might have received from such activities because:

short-term alcohol use can impede muscle growth; long-term alcohol use diminishes ‘protein synthesis’ resulting in a decrease in muscle build-up.

In order to build bigger and stronger muscles, your body needs sleep to repair itself after workouts, and alcohol is widely known to upset sleeping patterns.

* The authoritiesÂ’ information hasnÂ’t been factually verified by Department of Health, but we acknowledge that it represents sensible advice

Han’s hangover prevention tips!

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Chartered physiotherapist, acupuncturist and naturopath, Hans van de Braak, pictured right, gives his advice on how to beat the festive season hangover:

“As a physiotherapist, naturopath and acupuncturist, I am often asked by friends and family for medical advice. However, around Christmas and New Year I find people seeking my professional expertise on the best way of dealing with the after effects of a celebratory tipple or two. Of course, the best way to avoid a hangover is not to drink too much, but human nature being what it is, the best advice is rarely taken, ” says Han who practices at the Integrated Medicine Practice in Leicestershire.

“And unless you are one of those strong willed souls who manage to resist the lure of the grape or the grain, you may well find yourself in need of some advice during the festive season.

WhatÂ’s your poison?

When you drink too much alcohol you are, in effect, poisoning your body. Your liver is working overtime to break down the ethanol whilst the dehydrating effect of alcohol forces your body to take water from wherever it can find it – including your brain. This causes the cells, now depleted of moisture, to shrink, inducing the pain commonly known as a headache. Drinking too much also drains the body of vital vitamins and minerals especially vitamins A, B and C. This means that any basic hangover treatment should include restoring as much lost moisture as possible whilst replacing the nutrients that your body has lost. So, before you reach for the aspirin, consider some alternative remedies that may be more effective, more natural and more easily available.

HanÂ’s Top Five Hangover Treatments

1. Probably the most well known and effective advice, but still so often ignored – drink plenty of water before, during after and taking in alcohol. It’s got a lot going for it: in plentiful supply and absolutely free if drunk straight from the tap. The more water you can drink, the more quickly it flushes out the liver and rehydrates your poor, aching body. Be sure to avoid drinks containing caffeine as these will only dehydrate you more.
2. Also avoid aspirin and ibuprofen if possible as these tend to irritate the stomach. Instead, try a more natural remedy such as aloe vera. In a concentrated form, such as Aloeride®, aloe vera is the perfect ingredient for an upset stomach as it placates the stomach lining, and settles that horrible queasy feeling. Try taking a couple before you go out, and then a couple the morning after. See www.aloeride.eu for more information.
3. Fruit: another natural and easily available remedy. Bananas are good source of fructose and potassium – both of which are lost when you drink too much alcohol. They are also a natural antacid, rich in magnesium to help ease a throbbing head. Fruit juice is another effective treatment, although it can be a little acid on a delicate stomach. This works well because the fructose in the juice burns up the residual alcohol in the stomach speeding up recovery. If it is too acidic for a sensitive tum, try watering it down.
4. Sweat it out! Head to your nearest sauna or steam room if you can face it (and youÂ’re not still over the limit). Alternatively, walk there as a blast of fresh air will certainly do you good. If that is simply too much exertion, run a hot bath and bask in the steam, sweating out all those nasty toxins.
5. Eat! Make sure that you eat properly before you go out: whilst food doesnÂ’t actually absorb alcohol, it does increase your metabolism and speeds up the bodyÂ’s processes enabling it to deal with the effects of overindulgence more quickly. The traditional fry up – even if you can face it – is best avoided. Choose foods that will release sugar slowly and provide you with a much needed shot of protein to build up those amino acids. Baked beans, scrambled eggs and porridge tick all the right boxes – porridge also works well to neutralise acid.

Whilst following these golden rules wonÂ’t necessarily prevent you having a hangover, they will certainly reduce its effects and speed up your recovery time. With any luck, within a matter of hours youÂ’ll be up and about and in fine fettle – ready to go out and do it all over again – although I really wouldnÂ’t recommend it!

Liver damage and hangover protection

London: As the party season gets underway a new supplement is launched on the market that can help protect your from hangovers and liver damage caused by overconsumption of alcohol.

Called Dink, it works in harmony with your body to supply vital nutrients prior to drinking alcohol. Its scientific formula is the product of years of pharmacistsÂ’ research into maintaining good health whilst alcohol is consumed.

Dink aims to cut the harmful effects of binge drinking by introducing people that like to get merry to this simple damage limitation supplement.

The capsules contain 100 per cent natural ingredients: phospholipids, essential amino acids, vitamin C, dextrose and vegetable carbon. Dink contains antioxidants that mop up free radicals, which are generated by the liver processing alcohol.

The ingredients in Dink help to maintain the balance in energy-producing systems in the body, so they can swiftly eliminate toxins, which are a by-product of drinking alcohol.

It is expected that the product will be sold in soon-to-be-redundant cigarette vending machines in licensed venues across the UK.

Dink is available now in Asda stores nationwide and due to demand, will soon be available in most supermarket and pharmacy chains priced ÂŁ3.49 (RRP).

There are no complicated timetables with taking Dink, simply swallow three green (for go) capsules before your first drink and three red (for stop) capsules after your last drink. Dink can also be taken during the evening when you realise one drink is turning into several.

Notes on ingredients: Phospholipids are essential to control flow of water-soluble substances through liver cell walls. They are a major component of all biological cell walls. Phospholipids are formed in the body to repair certain cell walls.
L-Glutamine is an amino acid used by the body. L-Glutamine converts to Glutathione, an antioxidant that mops up free radicals.
Ascorbic Acid – also known as vitamin C – acts as an antioxidant. The body uses more vitamin C during alcohol consumption than under normal circumstances.
For more information on Dink see www.dinkwhenyoudrink.co.uk