To many, December is the month to celebrate. The series of celebrations, however, could ruin one’s health with continued hard drinking, health officials said. First, be aware of your limit and say “no” to people who force you to drink, they added.
According to a recent study released by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, about two- thirds of Koreans ― both men and women ― consume a higher level of alcohol than the World Health Organization recommends. The international health office under the United Nations recommends men not to drink more than 40 grams of alcohol a day and 20 grams for women. Forty grams of alcohol is equivalent to five soju shots.
The percentages of Korean men and women exceeding the WHO’s guidelines on alcohol consumption have reached 64 percent and 69 percent, respectively.
“You should not drink on an empty stomach or drink fast. Don’t pass the glasses around, and most importantly, be aware of your limit,” said an official at the ministry.
“You should say ‘no’ before you feel like you have passed the limit, and also you should not force other peers to drink more,” he said.
The Food Ministry in its drinking guidelines advised the public to avoid drinking poktanju, a mixture of spirits and beer, but instead to drink beverages with lower alcohol levels.
Nearly one-third of Koreans have had more than one glass of the Korean concoction. The rate of people drinking poktanju was highest among those in their 20s, at 49 percent, followed by people in their 30s and 40s with 34.9 percent and 32 percent, respectively.
Other guidelines recommend not consuming alcohol every day, driving under the influence of alcohol or drinking if taking any medications.
If you suffer from constant headache and nausea in the morning after a night of drinking beer and soju, health officials advise taking a break from drinking for two or three days.
Hangovers are caused by a chemical byproduct called acetaldehyde. The toxic substance is created as one’s liver breaks down alcohol. It is 30 times more toxic than alcohol and causes damage to cells and tissues in the liver if left to accumulate.
Eat food that may help produce an enzyme that breaks down acetaldehyde and drink water, nutritionists said. Every country has its own remedies for hangovers, and the Korean version of the hangover cure includes bean sprout soup which contains high amounts of asparaginic acid. Asparaginic acid protects the liver by stimulating alcohol dehydrogenases to resolve alcohol.
Dried pollack soup and clam soup that contain metionine and taurine would help revitalize the liver, they added.
For public health improvement, the Food Ministry has set new alcohol guidelines on its website. For more information on alcohol safety, visit www.foodnara.go.kr.
By Cho Chung-un (email@example.com)