A Primal New Year’s Eve Survival Guide

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New 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.

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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 oil, extra 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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