Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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December 28 2016

A Primal New Year’s Eve Survival Guide

By Mark Sisson
26 Comments

Inline_New_Year's_Survival_GuideNew Year’s Eve approaches. Parties beckon. Arsenals of alcohol accumulate. Whether you venture out into the wild night or keep it quiet with close friends and loved ones (that’s me), people will probably offer you a glass (or several) of something containing ethanol to mark the occasion. As always, it’s not about a right or wrong choice but about assuming responsibility for your health. I’ve heard a lot of readers over the years say going Primal has made them much more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. If you’ll be partaking, you can gird your system to deal with the incoming toxicity.

Now, a word of caution. This protocol may very well make you feel invincible. It might even reduce the deleterious effects and increase the pleasurable effects of alcohol. That doesn’t mean you should drink more. Keep it moderate. Maintain the buzz. If you go further, however, I can’t vouch for your safety.

In the Days Leading up to the Party

Sleep well. Remember how every tissue in your body has a circadian clock keeping rhythm? For you organs to work properly, you need to sleep well and sleep consistently. New Year’s Eve throws that into disarray, so in the days leading up to a late night proper sleep hygiene is vital. Don’t mess this up.

Limit omega-6 fats, emphasize MUFAs and SFAs. Animal study after animal study each confirm that high-O6 PUFA feeding increases liver damage in response to ethanol, while more stable fats like cocoa butter and coconut oil protect against it. And if you do eat omega-6s, make sure they’re in whole food form (nuts, seeds, eggs, etc).

Day of the Party

Train hard and go for a brisk walk. Exercise up-regulates antioxidant activity and, at least in rats, actively reduces alcohol damage.

Eat five egg yolks or some liver. Your liver will be burning through its choline stocks, so be sure to top them off. Choline supplementation will also work well here. Choline is so important for alcohol metabolism that it can even protect fetuses against maternal alcohol ingestion (not that I’m recommending alcohol use while pregnant).

An Hour before the Party

Eat a teaspoon to a tablespoon each of extra virgin avocado oilextra virgin olive oil., and red palm oil. The polyphenols in EVOO and avocado oil and the vitamin E in red palm oil protect against alcohol-induced oxidative stress, and the monounsaturated and saturated fats in all three protect the liver against alcohol-induced injury.

Eat a light-to-moderate meal. You want food in your stomach to slow the absorption of alcohol. If you flood your body with too much ethanol too fast, the conversion into highly toxic acetaldehyde will overwhelm your antioxidant defenses. Make sure you salt your food.

Take n-acetyl cysteine (600 mg) and vitamin C (1 gram). NAC is a precursor to glutathione, the premier antioxidant responsible for metabolizing alcohol. Hospitals give NAC megadoses to prevent Tylenol liver poisoning. Vitamin C helps NAC supply glutathione.

Take 200-400 mg magnesium. Alcohol depletes magnesium (it’s actually how we become tolerant to alcohol’s subjective effects)

Eat a few squares of high-cacao dark chocolate. Not only does the cocoa fat protect against ethanol-induced liver injury, the cocoa polyphenols increase your antioxidant capacity.

Eat some polyphenol-rich plants and spices. Turmeric, ginger, berries, beets. Anything pungent and/or colorful will be good for your alcohol metabolism. But don’t stack all of the spices and plants. Much of the benefit comes from hormesis, or the beneficial response to acute stressors. Eating a tablespoon of turmeric, a pound of blueberries, a carton of raspberries, a handful of goji berries, and two inches of ginger root might be too much of a good thing.

Have a cup of green tea. Green tea contains polyphenols that protect against ethanol-induced oxidative stress.

Eat collagen. The glycine in collagen/gelatin reduces lipid peroxidation and antioxidant depletion in the livers of ethanol-exposed rats. Hmm…maybe this is the perfect time for a PRIMAL KITCHEN™ collagen bar.

During The Party

Drink the best alcohol you can access. I’m talking about Dry Farms wine. I’m talking about $40+ scotch, tequila, and rum. Avoid plastic bottle vodka and $8 tequila.

Dilute your wine with sparkling mineral water. Unwatered wine was for barbarians, according to the Romans, and they were onto something. Not only does watered wine improve your hydration, I find it can actually accentuate some of the more subtle flavor notes on a good red.

Drink NorCal margaritas. Robb Wolf’s creation is a legitimately great drink, combining high quality tequila, fresh lime juice, sparkling water (Gerolsteiner!), and salt. This same basic formula—citrus, salt, mineral water—will work with most liquors.

Drink a glass of water (ideally mineral) with a pinch of salt for every drink you consume. Stay hydrated.

Right before Bed

Mix 1/2 tsp sea salt, juice from one lime or lemon, 1 T blackstrap molasses, and 12 ounces water (again, preferably mineral or coconut). Drink 30 minutes before bed to give yourself enough time to urinate.

Eat 200 mg magnesium. More magnesium always helps.

Eat a banana with salty nut butter. It might even be time to pull out the tub of peanut butter. Dodge the lightning bolts the paleo gods will certainly send your way.

Take 3 mg melatonin. Alcohol reduces melatonin secretion (PDF), which contribute to early awakenings. Don’t worry about taking melatonin late at night in discordance with your regular circadian rhythm. This one time it’s about improving your sleep and reducing alcohol-induced oxidative stress (which melatonin fights).

In the Morning

You should be feeling great. If not, here’s what to do.

Drink the pre-bed drink from last night. Mix up another batch and send it down the hatch.

Eat two charred corn tortillas with salted butter. Charred starch provides an activated charcoal effect. It seems to “soak up” any residual toxins floating around. Some say burnt toast works well, but the last thing I want to introduce to an upset hungover stomach is a big dose of gluten. Slap those tortillas directly over a gas flame until they singe and blacken on both sides. Spread with a little butter and eat. Maybe serve with eggs.

Activated charcoal would probably work, but I like getting something to eat.

Sprint. Go do something—anything—that gets you sweating. Do that, come home, hop in a really hot shower followed by 30 seconds to a minute of cold water, and you’ll feel right as rain.

This may seem like a lot to do, but consider the alternative. It’s your day-after and health at stake. And as a one-time, one-off thing, it really isn’t a big hassle for the benefit. If you find yourself resorting to this guide on a regular basis, however, you’re probably drinking too much.

Thanks for reading, all, and if you do try it this coming NYE, let me know how it worked! And take a moment to share your own tips and tricks for party survival.

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TAGS:  toxins

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26 thoughts on “A Primal New Year’s Eve Survival Guide”

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  1. Well most of these actually look delicious! I’m four months pregnant so I will be skipping the norcal margs… but I will happily share some chocolate and almond butter bananas with my husband (who will likely need these tips) 😀

  2. Wow, great tips! I don’t drink much, so I don’t plan to do all of this. But nothing wrong with some palm oil, dark chocolate, green tea and collagen every day. In fact, I do most of those things every day already…palm oil is maybe a once a week thing. And I always have activated charcoal on hand since I use it to whiten my teeth.
    Oh, and while we’re on the subject of alcohol..totally loving the Dry Farms Wine! Thanks for the intro!

    1. I had to laugh at all these precautions, which may or may not work for overindulging. I’ve never been much of a drinker either. At parties I usually sip a glass of ginger ale “on the rocks.” It looks like a mixed drink so no one is ever the wiser. The only problem is that being the only sober person in a room full of drunks can get boring really fast.

      1. Shary,
        I usually drink water with a lime or lemon. It looks like a drink, has no smell, & people think I’m drinking vodka.

      2. I have to be amused at the irony here: people drinking non-alcoholic drinks and trying to make them look like alcohol.
        For me it’s usually the other way around. (I don’t care for being told where I’m allowed to imbibe.)
        Peanut butter and bananas was one of the anti-hangover food combinations that I came up with too after reading, I’m pretty sure, The Complete Book of Vitamins. It mentioned a combination of an amino acid, probably cysteine, and vitamin C and a B-vitamin as a good defense against acetaldehyde and I discovered from the other information in the book that the combination of peanuts and bananas have all three. There were other combinations I thought of too like liver, eggs, and kale or something.
        Nice to know about the melatonin. I have some of that sitting around in my room that a store disposed of. Just don’t take a whole month’s worth of melatonin at once, which I experimented with after scoffing at the “may cause nausea” warning – you may be feeling absolutely wretchedly awful and puking so bad you can’t keep your spit down for most of a day. That was months ago and I haven’t taken any since because I don’t want to mess with mother nature, so to speak, (at least with hormones) but I guess I’ll be using some next time I drink, which ought to be tomorrow, pay day, if a collection agency that’s threatening me for thousands of dollars (over 8 grand, that’s more money than I get in a year!) of unpaid fines doesn’t get to my bank account first, which I think they may be able to do. I’m not sure but I was thinking if I take all my money out (I get direct deposit) right away then they can’t do anything with my bank account because if it’s empty then they wouldn’t be taking my money anymore, they’d be taking the bank’s. And I’m thinking maybe it would be a good idea to switch back to getting checks. Then if my bank account does get compromised I can sign them over to someone I trust to cash them or, if necessary, sacrifice some of the money to cash them at a loan place. Down with the corrupt system; those fines are unfair – imbibing where not allowed, but if I’m lucid, functional, and not causing trouble the authorities should just let me be, not kidnap and forcibly confine me and try to extort me.
        Behind an apartment building I found, among some other good stuff someone threw out for some reason, an unopened bottle of green coffee extract pills with raspberry ketones I think and some other plant ingredient meant to suppress hunger, though they don’t really seem to have that effect on me unless I take a lot, read on for a moment for an anecdote about that. The coffee extract part is 3% caffeine and I think 50% “CGA”, which I assume is chlorogenic acid.They’re humongous so the first time I tried them I emptied out 10 capsules into water and drank it instead of swallowing them one at a time and hoping I don’t choke. That made me throw up a little bit too. Good timing on that one – I was in the liquor store fighting back the nausea, thinking if I threw up there they’d think I was drunk or on something and wouldn’t sell to me, until I left and was just out of view of the window. Now I just take a few or so at a time to try to get some benefit from the CGA.
        This morning in yet another dumpster I found a bottle of kombucha with some ginger and other stuff in it. It was essentially the first time I tried kombucha and I thought it was pretty good. I was going to try to make my own from a bottle of sugary Pure Leaf tea and had it started, then decided to add a bunch of honey (I’ve never tried mead either). I drank it too soon before it was done though because I’d run out of beverages. I’ll probably try making a mead again fairly soon. I also want to try fermenting with maple syrup and molasses someday.

    2. I Cannot do all of this. New Year is a party, you just have to enjoy it…haha

      – gustavo woltmann

  3. So are legumes OK now or no? If they are, like you wrote in your 2016 summary, why would the paleo gods smite me for eating peanut butter?

      1. They are legumes. They get a bad rap mainly for the mold issues which I think are overblown.

  4. Primal Tips If You’re Going to Drink and Drive on New Years Eve:

    1. Do some grok squats before you start driving to loosen the hips. Dealing with sciatic pain while swerving across the median strip is a real downer.

    2. Avoid spices that thin the blood like cinnamon and ginger. You’re going to want to maintain your clotting capabilities when you go through the windshield.

    3. Eat low carb several days before to shed excess glucose and water so you look good naked at the coroner’s office.

    4. Bequeath your Primal Kitchen 25% off first order coupon to your favorite relative so they can pick up some killer Avocado Oil Mayo!

    1. I’d like to vote for Clay’s comment as post of the year. Great way to end 2016.

    2. Clay, thanks for keeping us all honest. I always enjoy your playful, thoughtful and common sense posts.

  5. I’m going to follow all of Mark’s tips plus NOT consume alcohol. I should feel great the next morning!

    1. Ha! Next you’ll say I shouldn’t smoke cigars while doing my sprints!

    2. “I should feel great the next morning!”

      No you won’t, you will regret all the margaritas you did not drink 🙂

  6. Even better yet–don’t drink! I’ve not had alcohol in 10 years (drank my quota) and I don’t miss it a bit. My favorite subs: sparkling grapefruit mineral water, or POM juice in a red wine glass, or even a non-alcoholic beer. Now that being said, I can still feel “hung over” from too much food, too much salt, or from eating weird things that aren’t in my normal diet. My remedy–an alka seltzer when I get home. It usually takes care of things and helps me feel human the next morning.

    1. strangely, I also get that hung over feeling when I’ve indulged in alot of foods that I don’t usually eat….. what’s POM juice?

  7. What would a proper primal/paleo celebration of the winter solstice look like? Making a bonfire and spend all night dancing yourself into a trance (in the company of others doing the same thing)?

  8. May I add a bit of a warning re the magnesium? Anyone who doesn’t know what dosage they can handle should probably not take the magnesium supplement if they are going out. If I took 400 milligrams and went to a party, the result would be a very embarrassing disaster — as I learned when traveling last summer (and since replicated at home while drinking my own water–it wasn’t the water!) I assume most people can handle that much, but I can vouch that not everyone can — and a New Year’s Eve party would not be the ideal time to find out. 🙂

    Happy new year, everyone!

  9. Good tips. But let’s be serious, NYE is amateur night. Which means the tea-totallers get FUBAR, and end up tossing whatever they ate/drank anyway. Even a gut full of charcoal ain’t gonna help the amateurs…lol.

    If prepping for a night out entails what looks like getting ready for an ultra marathon…Id reconsider my plans.

    Key to successful drinking, other then not drinking, is to remember there is always more alcohol…the stuff at the party is but the tip, so go easy, you don’t have to consume all of it…pace yourself, don’t jump right in with the shots at 8pm, bring some alternatives with you…Pellegrino, etc…and be a people watcher…it’s more fun.

  10. Showers often make me feel a bit better, hungover or not. Wondering if alternating hot and cold water exposure a bunch of times would be any more helpful.
    After all, it worked a few hundred years ago or so for Inigo Montoya after his 3 months or whatever on brandy.
    (from The Princess Bride – I read “The Good Parts Version”, where someone took it upon himself to cut out everything he deemed boring. One of my favourite lines was from the Miracle Max character, something like, “True love is the next best thing to cough lozenges”, speaking of which, I’ve mentioned dextromethorphan on this site several times but I’ve only used it a few times in the last year or so, an improvement on my old habit of just about daily heavy doses.)