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How To Make Drinking Less Harmful

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Making Drinking Less Harmful

We often talk of the many ways alcohol harms our health, and we advocate for reducing (or eliminating) its consumption. However, it’s not necessarily as easy as all that, and it might not even be a goal that everyone has. So, if you’re going to imbibe, what can you do to mitigate the harmful effects of alcohol?

There is no magical solution

Sadly. If you drink alcohol, there will be some harmful effects, and nothing will completely undo that. But there are some things that can at least help—read on to learn more!


It’s not the magical sober-upperer that some would like it to be, but it is good against the symptoms of alcohol intoxication, and slightly reduces the harm to your body, because it is:

  • Hydrating (whereas alcohol is dehydrating)
  • A source of antioxidants (whereas alcohol causes oxidative stress, which has nothing to do with psychological stress, and is a kind of cellular damage)
  • A stimulant, assuming it is not decaffeinated (it’s worth noting that its stimulant effects work partly by triggering vasoconstriction, which is the opposite of the vasodilation caused by alcohol)

To this end, the best coffee for anti-alcohol effects should be:

  • Caffeinated, and strong
  • Long (we love espresso, but we need hydration here and that comes from volume!)
  • Without sugar (you don’t want to create an adverse osmotic gradient to leech water from your body)

As for milk/cream/whatever, have it or don’t, per your usual preference. It won’t make any difference to the alcohol in your system.

Antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids, and things with similar mechanisms

We mentioned that coffee contains antioxidants, but if you want to really bring out the heavy guns, taking more powerful antioxidants can help a lot. If you don’t have the luxury of enjoying berries and cacao nibs by the handful, supplements that have some similar benefits are a perfectly respectable choice.

For example, you might want to consider green tea extract:

L-theanine 200mg (available on Amazon)

Specialist anti-alcohol drugs

These are somewhat new and the research is still ongoing, but for example:

Dihydromyricetin (DHM) as a novel anti-alcohol intoxication medication

In short, DHM is a flavonoid (protects against the oxidative stress caused by alcohol, and has been found to reduce liver damage—see the above link) and also works on GABA-receptors (reduces alcohol withdrawal symptoms after cessation of drinking, and thus also reduces hangovers).

Once again: the marketing claims of such drugs may be bold, but there’s a lot that’s not known and they’re not a magic pill. They do NOT mean you can take them alongside drinking and drink what you like with impunity. However, they may help mitigate some of the harmful effects of alcohol. If you wish to try them, these can be purchased at pharmacies or online, for example:

Alcohol Defense Capsules (available on Amazon)

Bottom line

Alcohol is bad for your health and none of the above will eliminate the health risks. But, if you’re going to have alcohol, then having the above things as well may at least somewhat reduce the harm done.

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