Dr Clare Bailey: Give your liver a merry Christmas

I really don’t want to be the bore who stole Christmas, but I can’t help but spare a thought for our livers during party season. It’s not just all the alcohol that’s damaging; cakes, mince pies, crisps, biscuits and chocolates raise blood sugar, much of which ends up being processed by this overworked organ.

Sugar also gets stored as fat in the liver and around the abdomen, causing inflammation and potentially non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, now the leading cause of hepatic failure.

Advice on alcohol is to drink up to 14 units a week – that’s two to three units per day (roughly one pint or a large glass of wine), with two alcohol-free days a week. Restraint isn’t always easy but, if you follow my tips, you can still indulge – and have fun – while protecting your liver from the inevitable onslaught.

Catherine Gratwicke

Make a plan Before going out, set a limit on the number of alcoholic drinks you will have then let others know. And keep well hydrated with still or fizzy water.

Pace yourself Alternate a glass of your favourite tipple with water or a soft drink. Remember, bubbles in fizz make you absorb the alcohol more quickly, making you tipsy faster.

Swap to low- or no-alcohol beers and wines These are pretty good nowadays and there is a much wider choice – see our top picks, below, and our recipe for non-alcoholic fizz, right.

Line your stomach with fatty foods To slow the absorption of alcohol – and be kind to your liver – when you are feeling peckish swap sweet and starchy snacks for natural fats such as milk, nuts, pigs in blankets, cheese nibbles or vegetable crudités with dips, olives or some 85 per cent dark chocolate.

Resist too many TV dinners and snacks You eat a lot more when you are distracted by what’s on screen so end up ignoring signals telling you that you are full. If you do snack, go for the options listed above – fatty foods don’t automatically get stored as fat.

Plan at least two drink-free days each week These don’t necessarily have to be consecutive, but will allow some recovery time for your liver.

Drag yourself off the sofa Get outside every day because the more you move the more you flush out excess liver fat.

For further advice and to see how much you are drinking, go to drinkaware.co.uk/tools and alcoholconcern.org.uk.

Guilt-free tipples… and a no-sin sparkler

Ceder’s Classic (£20, sainsburys.com). A non-alcoholic gin with notes of juniper.

Monte Rosso Aperitivo (£10.99 for six, drydrinker.com). An Italian-style spritz.

Torres Natureo De-Alcoholised Muscat (£5.99, waitrose.com). Less like grape juice, more like wine.

Sparkling Botanical G&T (£2.50, marksandspencer.com). You’ll barely notice that it is missing the gin.

Rosemary and pomegranate fizz


Pour 400ml pomegranate juice into a small saucepan. Lightly bruise 4 rosemary sprigs by rubbing them between your fingers and add them to the pan. Bring to the boil and reduce for 10 minutes, then add the juice of ½ a lemon. Leave to cool, then strain and chill until ready to use. Pour 30ml of the rosemary and pomegranate mixture into each of 8 champagne flutes and top up with alcohol-free sparkling wine. Garnish each glass with a few pomegranate jewels and a small rosemary sprig.

Taken from Redemption Bar by Andrea Waters and Catherine Salway, published by Kyle Books

If you have a question you would like answered, email drclarebailey@you.co.uk