How to Prevent Hangover Japanese Style

This week I will share how to prevent hangover Japanese style.

The party season is here and there may be more occasions to drink alcohol. The best way to avoid hangover is not drinking too much but it’s good to know ways to avoid it so you can drink little bit more than usual. This week I will share some Japanese ways to prevent hangover before drinking, during drinking and after drinking.

I will be mentioning foods in general but if you are allergic, please don’t do it. And if you are on certain medications, they may be contraindicated so please check with your medical doctor first because you try anything.

When you drink alcohol, about 20% is absorbed through the stomach and 80% through the small intestine. 90% of it is then metabolized by the liver with enzymes. In general, you can metabolize one drink per hour. Here is the definition of one drink since there are different types of alcohol with different %s. Heavy drinkers can metabolize alcohol faster than light drinkers.

When the liver cannot keep up metabolizing the alcohol intake, the toxic by-product called acetaldehyde starts building up in the bloodstream and gives you the symptoms of hangover.

Before drinking:

1) Sleep Well – If you know you will be drinking, sleep well the day before because if you are tired, you will feel the effects of the alcohol sooner.

2) Drink Turmeric Energy Drink or Take Turmeric Supplements – Turmeric is known to improve liver functions. Curcumin in turmeric boosts bile production and aids the breakdown of acetaldehyde. You should not take turmeric if you are on blood thinner medicine or antacids.

3) Eat Dairy (Or Other Protein and Fat) – You should never drink alcohol in an empty stomach. Having something in your stomach helps slow down the alcohol absorption especially protein and fat because it takes time to digest them. Dairies such as milk, cheese, and yogurt have both protein and fat and will line the stomach. If you don’t eat dairy, nuts and beans are good alternative.

I’ve actually had a yogurt drink 30-minutes before arriving a party and started eating edamame soybean which is very high in protein and I didn’t feel the effects of alcohol at all the next day.

4) Eat Pickled Plum – In Japan we eat pickled plum called umeboshi which is very sour. We salivate just by thinking about it like Pavlov’s Dog. They say to eat this pickled plum before drinking because it has lots of citric acid which activates the liver functions. Citric acids are also found in tangerines, oranges, grapefruits, and pineapples to name a few.

During drinking:

1) Continue to Eat Protein-Rich Food – Proteins from meat and fish slow down the alcohol absorption. If you can’t do animal proteins, get proteins from plant sources such as soy. Japan has so many soy dishes with all kinds of tofu. Soy beans, pork and fish are also good sources of replenishing vitamin B1 as well which is used in alcohol metabolism.

2) Eat Shellfish, Squid and Octopus – Taurine helps the breakdown of acetaldehyde. Shellfish like scallops and clams, as well as tuna, yellowfin tuna, squid and octopus have high amount of taurine. Pregnant women should avoid taurine supplements.

3) Eat Grated Daikon Radish – Daikon radish contains digestive enzymes diastase, amylase, and esterase. It’s the best to have the raw grated daikon radish and its juice, the spicier the better, to promote the digestion. You often see it as condiments on Japanese dishes.

After drinking:

1) Don’t Go To Sleep Right Away – When you go to sleep your body’s ability to metabolize alcohol goes down too. So stay awake to sober up as much as possible before going to bed.

2) Drink Miso Soup – Miso soup is one of Japanese staple dishes made of soy bean paste high in protein and sodium. At the end of drinking alcohol, they say to drink miso soup with freshwater clams called Shijimi which is high in ornithine that aids liver functions and revitalizes the entire body or clam that’s high in taurine. These miso soups are also good to have if you wake up with a hangover and dehydrated because you can replenish both liquid and salt.

3) Drink Electrolytes – My go to electrolyte drink is called Pokari Sweat. I grew up in Japan with this but I didn’t realize it sounded disgusting until I came to the US because it does sound like there is sweat inside. But no, you are not drinking sweat. This actually tastes good and refreshing with a hint of lemon and hydrates your body well.

4) Eat Persimmon – Persimmon has a polyphenol called tannins. Tannins attach to the acetaldehyde in your body and help to excrete it.

5) Hand Reflexology for Liver – Lastly, here’s a Hand Massage using a hand reflexology. The reflex for liver is located below the ring finger on the right hand. Come down the ring finger and go over the bone bump. Hook your left thumb and press firmly for 7 seconds. This may hurt when you are having a hangover. You do it only on your right hand because your liver is located mostly on your right side. Repeat as needed.

You may be living in a different country with a different culture. If you or your culture have a unique way to prevent hangover, I would love to hear so please let me know in the comments below.

Massage Monday #620 How to Prevent Hangover Japanese Style