Monday, December 23, 2013

And So It Begins - Christmas Edition

Like most families, we have several Christmas traditions. One of them involves my wife spending a couple of days in a floury frenzy in the kitchen, baking all sorts of goodies for our friends and neighbors. However, in our case most of those goodies involve liquor in one form or another.

So while I was camped out in my easy chair watching football this weekend, she threw herself in an orgy of vegetable oil, eggs, milk, vanilla extract, sugar, chocolate, and other yummies. (Trust me, it's not as erotic as it sounds.)

Anyway, we spent today driving around delivering plates of said yummies to folks in the area. Given that it's Christmas, and given the hospitable nature of the people around here, we were invited in more than once for a glass of wine. Given our nature, we gladly accepted.

Now we're back home for a brief respite, before heading out again for a party. It's a tough life...

Tomorrow is another family tradition. My wife and I wrap presents while sipping guzzling egg nog.

The day after that, of course, is Christmas. That's the day we engage in yet another family tradition - drinking to excess to help us deal with the influx of relatives, some of whom we are thrilled to see (drink to celebrate) and some of whom we merely put up with once a year (drink to tolerate).

As a public service, here's a couple of hints to help you deal with the excesses experienced during this time of the year.

Avoid liver injury and drink milk with your Christmas schnapps
Christmas parties – accompanied by Christmas ale and schnapps – can lead to a severe headache the following day. No matter how bad the discomfort, however, it does not take long to recover. The injury caused to the liver following years of alcohol abuse is much more serious.

In a recent study published in the journal Hepatology, researchers at Aarhus University – in collaboration with colleagues at the Saitama Medical School (Japan) and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine (New York) – showed that the protein osteopontin can counteract liver injury caused by alcohol abuse.

Osteopontin naturally occurs in many parts of the body, but is present in particularly high concentrations in milk. Osteopontin has a stimulating effect on the immune system, and it is therefore extracted by the dairy industry for use in products such as infant formulae.

“In a previous study, we fed mice with a high alcohol diet, supplemented with osteopontin corresponding to the content in milk. These mice did not suffer the same liver injury as those given the same alcohol diet without the osteopontin supplement,” says Associate Professor Esben Skipper Sørensen, Coordinator of the Section for Molecular Nutrition, Aarhus University.
If you're lactose intolerant, don't despair. You have alternatives.

Can I prepare my liver for Christmas parties?
The liver, the body's largest solid organ, is responsible for detoxifying many of the potentially harmful substances that can pollute the body.

The cornerstone of any liver-friendly programme is a diet that makes relatively light work for this organ. The diet should contain an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Not only do these foods tend not to tax and stress the liver, they also contain an abundance of nutrients such as vitamin C and carotenoids (e.g. beta-carotene) which can support liver function.

Foods that contain artificial additives such as sweeteners, colourings, flavourings and preservatives should be also be minimised in the diet.

Drinking plenty of water (about one and-a-half to two litres a day) should also help to reduce toxicity in your body and help take the load off your liver.

In addition, you might also benefit from taking something to 'strengthen' your liver. Perhaps most widely used as a general liver tonic is the herb Milk thistle. This herb has a traditional use that dates back more than 2000 years.

The herb contains a complex of bioflavonoid molecules known collectively as silymarin. Silymarin appears to have the ability to protect the liver cells by reducing the take-up and enhancing the removal of harmful toxins.

I recommend you take 200 mg of standardised extract of Milk thistle, twice a day, throughout the festive season.
You're welcome...

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