Our best supplements for liver support this Christmas

Milk Thistle

With the month of merry-making upon us, it’s likely that many of us will be slipping into a few bad habits over the coming weeks, whether it’s skipping dinner and heading straight for a happy hour, or simply getting into a festive mood and drinking a little more than we usually would – whatever the reason, festive cheer can often lead to the head-pounding, stomach-churning, cotton-mouthed effects of a hangover.

Eat, drink, take Milk Thistle and be merry!

I will be enjoying a few drinks this Christmas. I’m quite partial to champagne, Bloody Marys and a good Marlborough, but I will be making sure I don’t wake up the next day with a headache and feeling sub-par.

I will be counting on my Milk Thistle tablets to help protect my liver from the effects of toxins such as alcohol, so will probably start taking the tablets any evening that I am having a couple of drinks (making sure I take them before the drinking starts). I will take another one before bed, and one with breakfast the next morning.

This protocol certainly worked for Barbara:

Milk thistle is one of the most valuable and beneficial herbal remedies and treatments available anywhere in the world – for over 2,000 years, milk thistle has been used as a natural treatment for liver disorders, and today, it is still the number one recommended natural herb for liver health.

Don’t forget your Live Bacteria capsules too!

Live Bacteria

Traditionally, when we talk about hangovers, we focus on dehydration and the toll that alcohol takes on your liver as you try to detoxify from the night before. What’s often overlooked though, is alcohol’s effect on your gut bacteria.

Many studies have looked at the chronic consumption of alcohol and the impact that has on our gut. Those who over-consume alcohol on a regular basis have higher rates of alcohol-induced oxidative stress and intestinal dysbiosis which can lead to gastrointestinal tract inflammation and intestinal hyperpermeability (aka leaky gut syndrome).

But what about those that may only drink a little too much when we head out for a night on the town, particularly around the festive season? What kind of impact does that kind of drinking have on gut microbes? You may not consider yourself a ‘binge’ drinker, but by definition, anyone who consumes more than four drinks per event falls into this category.

One study aimed to investigate the effects that this type of drinking had on the gut bacteria of healthy individuals. What they found was that that binge drinking resulted in a rapid increase in serum endotoxins (i.e., bacteria toxins located in the cell), showing that bacteria were moving from the gut into our system. This was also underscored by elevated markers of inflammation, meaning that one night of heavier drinking is enough to rile up our immune response.

If you want to drink alcohol, first and foremost we advocate moderation and responsible drinking.
Understanding that drinking can impact our gut microbiome, and ultimately our immune system, protecting your gut bacteria and boosting your immune system is a good way to help protect you from the negative effects of alcohol.

An interesting piece of research, a pilot study done on human subjects to look at the effects of probiotics and protecting the stomach, liver and gut against the effects of ethanol, shows that probiotic supplements with ethanol-metabolising activity may help reduce the disease burden of excessive alcohol consumption. Read more here.

Taking a daily dose of a high-quality probiotic such as my Live Bacteria is a great way to maintain your digestive health and promote a diverse gut microflora, which can help bring you back into balance after a night of drinking. As a bonus, healthy gut bacteria also produce certain B-vitamins which quickly become depleted when we drink alcohol.

Fill up on fibre!

Alcohol is readily absorbed throughout the entire digestive tract. The amount of food we have in our system determines the rate at which that happens. To slow the absorption of alcohol into your system, never drink on an empty stomach, but rather fill your plate with slow digesting carbs like veggies, sweet potatoes, brown rice, sourdough bread, as well as lean protein and healthy fats. Gut bacteria love fibre, so not only will you lessen the effects of alcohol, you’ll keep your good gut bacteria healthy and fuelled.

I don’t want to be a party-pooper, but it’s best to be informed about the risks, and for less than £40, including delivery, these two products are a must if you want to enjoy your favourite tipple, but protect your liver and gut.