Friday, June 29, 2012

Minimizing Hangovers

This weekend really marks the beginning of summer party season- barbecue’s, heading to the Princeton Friday and the Springfield on Saturday, having friends over for tropical drinks, and/or enjoying a nice cold beer (or two) after a long work week. For some people, all of these events are fun at the time, but the next day proves to be a dreadful experience due to the loathed HANGOVER.

A hangover occurs after the blood alcohol has returned to zero after excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol is toxic to the body, so it makes sense that drinking large quantities would wreak havoc on the body. Symptoms of a hangover can include, but are not limited to, headache, weakness, inability to concentrate, decreased activity, fatigue, thirst, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, chills, and shaking.

There are many reasons people experience hangovers including dehydration, changes in immune and endocrine metabolite production, build up of toxins (e.g: acetylaldehyde), gastritis, decreased sleep quality and duration, fatty liver, hypoglycemia, congener content of drinks (metabolites that flavor, scent, and color alcoholic beverages), alcohol withdrawal, and due to the obvious fact that alcohol is absolutely toxic to the human body. Alcohol is poison, so it makes sense that you wouldn’t feel that great after drinking it!

If you do choose to drink more than one to two drinks in a day, there are certain measures you can take to minimize the risk of a hangover and to ameliorate the symptoms once you experience them. While there is not a ton of research on hangovers, a few studies have been done in which I draw my recommendations from.

Recommendations to minimize hangovers:
1. Abstain from alcohol!!! (duhh)
2. Drink small, non-intoxicating amounts
…or…. If you must indulge:
3. Consume alcohol that has few congeners (pure ethanol, vodka, and gin)
4. Consume water with and between drinks
5. Consume alcohol with fructose-containing foods such as fruit and fruit juice
6. Consume solid foods that contain carbohydrates with and after drinks (such as bread)
7. Be sure to get a good nights sleep
8. Eat bland cracker-type foods to help with nausea and hypoglycemia
9. Antacids may help with nausea and gastritis
10. Ibuprofen may help with headache symptoms, just be sure not to consume until the next day since your liver cannot process both the alcohol and drugs at the same time!
11. Make sure you have a folate-rich diet which is needed to metabolize ethanol. Folate is found primarily in leafy greens and whole grains.
12. Exercise!

If the thought of a hangover isn’t reason enough to discourage you from drinking, here is some approximate calorie information on some popular alcoholic beverages:

Alcohol and Calorie Content

Alcohol Name
Serving size
Estimated Calories
Blue Moon Belgian White Beer

12 fl oz
Wine- red or white
5 fl oz
Martini glass
Bloody Mary
4 fl oz
Shot of liquor (vodka, rum, gin, etc)
1.5 fl oz
Long Island Iced Tea
12 fl oz
Pina Colada
6 fl oz
Rum & Coke
10 fl oz
Old Fashioned
4 fl oz

If you get a hangover, you most likely didn’t just have one of these drinks. Do the math to see how many hundreds of calories you consume in just a short period from having “a few” drinks. If you start with a Pina Colada, but ease up and just have two light beers afterwards, you’ve already tacked on almost 550 calories to your daily totals. If you are the type that can down a bottle of wine in a night… try to think of it as soda. Most people wouldn’t drink more than a liter of soda in one sitting, so why is alcohol any different?

So at your parties or weddings this weekend I want you to THINK before you DRINK. Think about whether the alcohol is worth the calories and the consequences. Do not drink in excess no matter how high of a tolerance you think you may have- alcohol is toxic, so too much can easily kill you. Have fun, drink responsibly, and Happy 4th of July!

Chapman, LF. Experimental induction of hangover. Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol 5(Suppl. 5):67–86, 1970.
"Liver and Alcohol Breakdown." UBM Medica Australia, 21 Sept. 2009. Web. 26 June 2012. <>.
Pawan, GL. Alcoholic drinks and hangover effects. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 32(1):15A, 1973.
Swift R, Davidson D. Alcohol hangover: mechanisms and mediators. Alcohol Health Res World 1998; 22:54–60.
Verster, J. C. (2008). "The alcohol hangover-a puzzling phenomenon". Alcohol and Alcoholism 43 (2): 124–126

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Soy May Help PREVENT Breast Cancer

Many people, especially those who have had breast cancer, avoid soy because they have heard it contains phytoestrogens, chemicals that mimic estrogen. Estrogen has been linked with the progression of breast cancer. Soymilk, tofu, edamame, and other soy products do contain phytoestrogens, and in some lab studies, these do seem to promote the growth of breast cancer cells.

However, human studies have different results than in vitro research:

·      2008 University of California Study: American women who average 1 cup of soymilk or ½ cup tofu each day have a 30% lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to women who consumed little or no soy1
·      2010: Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study (>10,000 participants): Women who consumed > 15 grams of soy protein per day had a 30% lower risk of recurrence compared to women who ate <5 grams per day (one cup of soymilk= 7 g, 4 oz tofu= 9-10 grams). 2
·      Asian countries tend to consume high levels of soy and also have the lowest breast cancer risk.

Soy is a complete protein source, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids, so is nearly equivalent to animal meat in terms of quality. Studies suggest that in addition to breast cancer prevention, soy may help to prevent prostate and colon cancers. Moreover, soy has shown to lower LDLs, or the “bad” cholesterol, and the FDA asserts that 25 grams of soy protein per day (as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol) may reduce your risk of heart disease.

My Recommendations
·        Do include soy in your diet.
·        Choose minimally processed soy products (e.g: edamame, organic soymilk)
·        As with everything, keep your soy intake moderate. Don’t overdose on it and don’t go out of your way to avoid it (unless you are allergic!)

·        Visit my previous blogs about soy:

(includes: "I'm Soy Confused!" "PhytoeSTROGEN's, A little hormonal, yes, but immasculating? No!")

 1) Wu AH, Yu MC, Tseng CC, Pike MC. Epidemiology of soy exposures and breast cancer risk. Br J Cancer. 2008;98(1):9-14.
2) Shu XO, Zheng Y, Cai H, et al. Soy food intake and breast cancer survival. JAMA. 2009;302(22):2437-2443.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

I am a big advocate of making smoothies for dessert. I recommend for most of my clients to invest in a Magic Bullet or any generic individual-sized blender so that they can make a quick smoothie everday and have very easy cleanup (instead of having to dismantle the blender every time). Smoothies are a great way to get in your dairy and fruit servings... and if you get adventurous, you can even add in some leafy greens to get some veggies in there too (and perhaps peanut butter for your protein group). Smoothies are also a cool summertime treat that can be very low in calories and a great alternative to ice cream. During this summer, I will try to post a new recipe regularly to get you all enthused about making your own frozen treat.

I love canned pumpkin and have posted previously about how nutritious and versatile it is. Below is one of my favorite desserts that I have made into a smoothie recipe (my favorite easy dessert is just cottage cheese, pumpkin butter, cinnamon and canned pumpkin mixed together into a mousse-like dessert). Even if you don't like cottage cheese, I recommend you try it in a smoothie because it makes it thicker (i.e: more milkshake-like) than yogurt does.

Kelly's Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Recipe
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup Breakstone’s 30% reduced sodium 2% cottage Cheese
1/3 cup vanilla unsweetened almond milk
½ cup ice cubes
Dash of vanilla extract
Dash of pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp pumpkin butter (Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods)

* Variations:
- Top with nonfat whipped topping if desired
- You can substitute no-sugar added pumpkin butter for fewer calories, or use honey (or any other sweetener) if you don't have pumpkin butter on hand
- Substitute a light vanilla or plain nonfat yogurt if you don't have cottage cheese
- Add more liquid or ice if it isn't the right consistency or you want to add more volume

Makes 1 serving:
Nutrition facts: 160 calories, 3 g fat, 241 mg sodium, 16 g carb (3 g fiber), 14 g sugar, 9 g protein,
Good Source of Vitamins A & D

Thursday, June 14, 2012

SHAKE SHACK Recs (or lack there of...)

I was recently interviewed for a Be Well Philly (Philly Mag online) article about the new Shake Shack on 20th and Sansom Street. Read what I had to say about the better of the poor options at this joint:

It should be noted, however, that at the time of the interview, I was unaware that the Shake Shack does offer a vegetarian "Garden Dog" and vegetarian mushroom burger. These are not listed on their menu for some reason, so you must have this secret knowledge that they do offer these healthier items. Obviously, if I had known that these were offerings, I would recommend these items over the highly processed, fatty animal parts that comprise a hot dog or hamburger. In general, even if their garden dog and mushroom burger are high in calories due to grains, oils, nuts or seeds, they will be a much healthier option than heavily processed and red meats. Most likely, however, a veggie hamburger or hot dog will be lower in calories and fat than their regular counterparts. Just make sure you order them without the cheese or special sauces!