THE pubs look a bit emptier this month.
And that’s probably because around nine million Brits are partaking in Dry January this month – or at least planned to in December.
One in seven (17 per cent) UK adults are estimated to be alcohol-free for 31 days this January, a study found.
Research conducted by Alcohol Change UK, the charity behind the Dry January initiative, revealed that the 8.8million Britons signed up to the campaign – with the cost-of-living crisis influencing their decision.
Alongside this, countless studies have shown links between excessive drinking and cancers, heart failure and diabetes, among other chronic health issues.
No wonder, then, that so many of the population are ditching the booze this month.
But does a month of sobriety really make any noticeable difference to health – or are habitual drinkers simply kidding themselves this January?
A sober month may not just benefit your physical health, but can improve your mental health too, Signe Svanfeldt, lead nutritionist at Lifesum says.
And although drinking moderate amounts is generally considered safe for adults “the less alcohol we consume, the better it is for our body, minds and overall health and wellbeing,” she tells the Sun.
Even as early on as day five you’ll begin to see a discernible difference between the old and new sober you, the expert says.
“You’ll begin to notice a reduction of puffiness in your skin and face,” Signe explains.
Alcohol is an inflammatory substance, meaning it tends to cause swelling in the body – this is why you often notice your face puffing up after a heavy night.
“You’ll also notice a reduction in hangover symptoms, including nausea, headaches and tiredness,” Signe says.
“This will make you feel more alert and energised as alcohol tends to dull the senses,” she adds.
Well done, you’ve made it a whole week.
“In the second week, you may notice that your sleep habits improve with deeper, less interrupted sleep.
“When we consume alcohol, it can interfere with our sleep quality making us sleep lighter and not wake up properly rested.”
The NHS recommends the average adult gets approximately seven to nine hours sleep per night – which Signe says is a lot more achievable when you don’t drink.
“Getting that extra sleep will make us feel more energised to do things that are good for us, including cooking nutritious foods and exercising,” she adds.
Consuming alcohol can increase the risk of mental illness – every heard or a little thing called hangxiety…?
“By reducing alcohol consumption by day 15, you might notice a shift in your overall mental wellness, and feel more positive and less anxious,” she explains.
Skipping that nightcap can also do wonders for your skin.
“Consuming an excessive amount of alcohol can make skin look dull, so at this stage you should notice that your skin has more of a glow to it.
“Swapping wine for water hydrates the body and skin, and leads to better overall health,” she adds.
It’s towards the end of the month when you’ll really experience the physical benefits of sobriety.
“Your body will benefit from a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and high blood pressure,” Signe explains.
“If you have consumed alcohol on a regular basis previously, you might also notice a reduction in body fat after a couple of weeks.
“This is because alcohol provides us with empty calories (calories without any nutrients), plus consuming alcohol also makes us choose less nutritious food choices, such as fast foods and takeaways,” she adds.
How to get help with your booze
There are plenty of helpful resources and tools to help you with your drinking issues.
Drinkline – Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).
Alcoholics anonymous – free self-help group that offers a 12 week plan
Al-Anon – A group for family members or friends struggling to help a loved one
Adfam – a national charity working with families affected by drugs and alcohol
National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa – helpline for children who have parents who are alcohol dependent – call 0800 358 3456
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