One of the most common questions about the Bulletproof Diet is whether alcohol is ok. I also hear, “How do I cure my hangover?” as well as “Is alcohol Paleo?” and “What should I drink when I am trying to stay Bulletproof but want to be social?”
Let’s face it – not a lot of us have only one drink on big holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Even my most hardcore Bulletproof friends and readers drink every now and then. There is a way to have a drink – or a few – on occasion without harming yourself or even feeling the bad effects. You can even enjoy the buzz safely. I believe it’s optimal from a health perspective to not drink, but from a fun perspective, having a few drinks is relatively harmless.
This post is about how to use biohacking to enjoy alcohol without many side effects (you know, things like cancer, aging, and hangovers). And to celebrate the holidays, here’s an infographic that distills (ahem) all I know about alcohol, metabolism, and toxins into practical advice you can use.
How To Hack Your Hangover: Free Infographic (click to enlarge)
The Best Hangover Cures: 5 Steps To Hack Your Hangover
Step 1 (optional): Choose the alcohol that will cause the least hangover problems.
There are tons of types of alcohol but the most common ones are represented here. What you choose can make a huge difference in how you feel the next morning. Some alcohols have a lot more toxic byproducts from fermentation than others. They are, in order from best to worst: Vodka, gin, tequila, whiskey, other distilled spirits, dry cider, dry champagne, dry white wine, white wines, red wines, dessert wines, beer.
Tragically, beer has the most toxins of any common alcoholic beverage…
Step 2: Hydrate heavily by drinking a glass of water for every serving of alcohol you consume – ideally at the same time or right after.
Before you can eliminate toxins, your body dilutes them with water so they don’t harm you on the way out. The water either comes from your tissues or water you drink – so drink water.
Step 3: (critical) Block the conversion of alcohol into aldehyde, the most hangover-causing metabolite that also causes very fast aging, wrinkles, etc.
Step 4: Do more if you want.
Best: The most powerful detoxer for the liver I know of is lipoceutical glutathione. That’s what I use if I drink.
Good: Add Vitamin B-1 and/or Alpha Lipoic Acid and/or N-Acetyl Cysteine before each drink, or at least before your first and after your last drink. Those links have the correct dosages and are low cost per drink (I recommend those ones for fastest absorption.)
Step 5: Mop Up What’s Left.
Take 4 capsules of Activated Charcoal after you’re done drinking (or if you chose beer or wine, take 1 capsule with each drink).
That’s all it takes. If you only do step 3 and no other step, you’ll probably feel ok the next morning. If you do all the steps, expect to feel Bulletproof – even better than you feel on a normal morning.
The wine industry has done a great job telling us that resveratrol is good for us. It might be – I don’t take it regularly because of concerns about it being mildly estrogenic. But even if it is, you’d need hundreds of bottles of red wine to get the amount of resveratrol in a single pill. So if you love wine, drink it and be sure to take activated charcoal to bind to the extra toxins generated by the yeast fermentation.
There is even some evidence that one drink a day may have protective effects. What I’ve seen is pretty vague and seems to be highly publicized by alcohol vendors, just like the winemakers are big cheerleaders for resveratrol. One drink a day may be protective against Alzheimer’s disease, according to Daniel Wetmore, Ph.D. and Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences Fellow at Stanford (Dan and I are on a panel together on brain hacking at SXSW next year!)
I learned some of the techniques here from Steve Fowkes, a friend and one of the most brilliant biochemists and metabolic hackers I’ve ever met, who is author of Smart Drugs II. Technical details about why some of this works is on Steve’s Cognitive Enhancement Research Institute site, but here’s a quick summary, along with some more info from my own research.