Asparagus a hangover remedy: Korean study
– Reported, January 07, 2013
In research to be published in the Journal of Food Science, Korean researchers found that extracts taken from the leaves and shoots of asparagus boosted levels of key enzymes that break down alcohol after heavy drinking. And if you don’t usually keep asparagus extract on hand, the good news is eating asparagus before or after drinking can also serve as a hangover remedy, according to the study’s lead author.
Asparagus officinalis is a spring vegetable, a flowering perennial plant species in the genus Asparagus. It was once classified in the lily family, like its Allium cousins, onions and garlic, but the Liliaceae have been split and the onion-like plants are now in the family Amaryllidaceae and asparagus in the Asparagaceae. Asparagus officinalis is native to most of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia, and is widely cultivated as a vegetable crop.
Figuring out how to prevent a hangover while hungover is no fun. While there are plenty of folk remedies that people use to prevent a hangoverdrinking through a straw, taking an aspirin, eating lots of bread to absorb the alcohola new study documents a hangover remedy that may actually work.
Heavy alcohol (ethanol) drinking leads to a number of unpleasant physical and mental symptoms, including fatigue, thirst, headache, nausea, vomiting, and so on. In addition, ethanol itself and acetaldehyde, a metabolite produced in the course of ethanol breakdown, may induce a number of toxic results, especially in the liver. “The two key enzymes, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) quickly metabolize ethanol into the ‘nontoxic’ acetate,” explains Deokbae Park, PhD, professor of medicine at Cheju National University School of Medicine in Korea. “Our study basically aimed to find any diet to promote the breakdown of ethanol by stimulating the two key enzymes,” he says. By adding the extract to liver cells in the lab, they determined that asparagus is high in amino acids that stimulate those enzyme functions, accelerating the breakdown of alcohol. In an informal trial that wasn’t part of the study, Park found that volunteers who drank a beverage containing the extract reported fewer hangover symptoms.
Of course, the only 100 percent effective way to avoid a hangover is to not drink alcohol. But when you choose to imbibe, here are some natural remedies that can prevent a hangover, or help you feel better fast.
Eat asparagus. While researchers used asparagus extract in the study, its hangover-fighters are present in the whole veggie, and remain stable even after being cooked at higher temperatures, such as steaming and boiling. So if you’re planning on drinking, include asparagus in your lunch and/or dinner to help prevent a hangover, or eat it the day after if you’re looking for good hangover food.
Know what to avoid. No matter what, avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Alcohol will reach your brain faster if there’s no food to absorb it. Your brain cells change when alcohol’s present in your noggin, and when the alcohol clears out, you’ll go through withdrawal and be more likely to suffer from a hangover. Stay away from drinks more likely to give you hangoverslike anything bubbly, such as champagne, or liquor drinks mixed with carbonated beverages. And no matter what you drink, to prevent a hangover, drink slowly, and drink a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks.
Use liquids to send a hangover packing. If you’re experiencing a hangover, sip a warm sports drink like Gatorade to replenish your electrolytes. Mix half Gatorade and half water to start. Sip orange or tomato juice throughout the day; they help your body burn off any remaining alcohol faster.
Eat good hangover food. Eggs, toast, and bananas help replenish lost nutrients and set your body into toxin breakdown mode. Crackers with honey will also help flush out lingering alcohol. And it may not be too late for a little asparagus to help.
The second century physician Galen described asparagus as “cleansing and healing”.
Nutrition studies have shown asparagus is a low-calorie source of folate and potassium. Its stalks are high in antioxidants. “Asparagus provides essential nutrients: six spears contain some 135 micrograms (μg) of folate, almost half the adult RDI (recommended daily intake), 20 milligrams of potassium,” notes an article in Reader’s Digest. Research suggests folate is key in taming homocysteine, a substance implicated in heart disease. Folate is also critical for pregnant women, since it protects against neural tube defects in babies. Studies have shown that people who have died from Alzheimer’s Disease have extremely low to no levels of folate. Several studies indicate getting plenty of potassium may reduce the loss of calcium from the body.
Particularly green asparagus is a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps the body produce and maintain collagen, the major structural protein component of the body’s connective tissues.
“Asparagus has long been recognized for its medicinal properties,” wrote D. Onstad, author of Whole Foods Companion: A Guide for Adventurous Cooks, Curious Shoppers and Lovers of Natural Foods. “Asparagus contains substances that act as a diuretic, neutralize ammonia that makes us tired, and protect small blood vessels from rupturing. Its fiber content makes it a laxative, too.”
Water from cooking asparagus may help clean blemishes on the face if used for washing the face morning and night. From John Heinerman’s “Heinerman’s new Encyclopedia of Fruits and Vegetables”: “Cooked asparagus and its watery juices are very good for helping dissolve uric acid (causes gout) deposits in the extremities, as well as inducing urination where such a function may be lacking or only done on an infrequent basis. Asparagus is especially useful in cases of hypertension where the amount of sodium in the blood far exceeds the potassium present. Cooked asparagus also increases bowel evacuations.”
South Korean scientists discovered asparagus can help with hangovers. Research to be published in the Journal of Food Science, says extracts taken from leaves and shoots were found to boost levels of key enzymes that help break down alcohol.
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