If, like us, you participated in Veganuary last month, you may have noticed a few benefits, including clearer skin, improved mental well-being and a lower food bill. But, if the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle are well advertised, are there any downsides?
It’s a question some Veganuary participants — and vegans in general — have asked themselves, with some even wondering if their vegan lifestyle might have an impact on their alcohol tolerance. “Since switching from pescatarian to vegan, my alcohol tolerance has become VERY LOW,” noted one person on Twitter, with another Tweeter“I’m pretty sure being vegan is the reason my alcohol tolerance is so low.”
“There are so many benefits to switching to a vegan diet,” says Ben Turnbull, director and chief wine buyer at House of Malt. “Not only is it good for the planet, but many people have found plant-based living to improve their digestion and energy levels, among other health benefits.”
“But there may be only one possible downside: a bad hangover,” adds Turnbull, referring to a to study who found a potential link between the nutrients in your diet and the severity of a hangover. “There are a number of potential reasons why a vegan diet may lower your alcohol tolerance, from vitamin deficiencies to digestion speed.”
But Rohini Bajekal, nutritionist at Herbal Health Professionals, says that is not the case. “There’s no scientific evidence to support this,” Bajekal says of the idea that going vegan lowers your alcohol tolerance.
“A very small study of just 24 participants in the Journal of Clinical Medicine found that social drinkers who had a higher dietary intake of nicotinic acid (known as niacin or B3) and zinc reported significantly fewer hangovers. To our knowledge, none of these participants were actually vegans or even vegetarians.”
On top of that, Bajekal points out that these two so-called “hangover-reducing” nutrients can “be easily found in a plant-based diet.” For example, plant-based foods high in niacin (B3) include avocados, peanuts, whole grains, and mushrooms, while zinc can be found in beans, lentils, and soy.
When it comes to hangover causes, the nutritionist points out that whether or not you find yourself squeezing the toilet bowl on a Sunday morning has nothing to do with your diet and is the result of one thing. and only one: alcohol. “The only sure way to avoid a hangover is to not drink alcohol in the first place,” she explains. “About 75% of those who drink alcohol to intoxication will have a hangover. After all, alcohol is a toxin that the liver needs to detoxify,” adds Bajekal, noting that of wood is caused by the dehydrating and diuretic properties of alcohol.
Despite the potential for a hangover, many of us won’t be discouraged from enjoying our favorite drink on Friday night. In that case, Turnbull reminds us, “If you’re going away this weekend, just make sure you eat a hearty meal beforehand, keep track of how much you’re drinking, and make sure you have a glass of water nearby to keep you hydrated between drinks – your head will thank you in the morning.”
The good news is that those who opt for a vegan meal after their night out will be reap more rewards than those who prefer greasy frying. “When you’re hungover, try to avoid trans fats and ultra-processed foods, sugary or caffeinated drinks, fruit juices, and sugary foods like cakes and cookies,” says Bajekal. . “Even though they provide a momentary pick-me-up, they often make you feel worse when you’re hungover.”
She continues, “Because alcohol depletes certain nutrients (such as B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin C), now is a great time to fuel your body with plant-based foods. Focus over beans, lentils, tofu, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lots of nuts and seeds like cashews, ground flaxseeds, and chia seeds.”
BRB, on my way to buy chia seeds…
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