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Experts Reveal What Dry January Actually Does To Your Body

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Experts Reveal What Dry January Actually Does To Your Body

The New Year is upon us, which means a fresh start is about to begin for many people (especially those who can't wait to see the backend of 2021).

With such a boozy end to the year, many people will be partaking in Dry January, the UK's one month long alcohol-free challenge.

Now, for any of you sceptics out there assuming there are no benefits to quitting booze for 31 days, it turns out that your body disagrees.

In fact, we Brits drink so much that we often dismiss the impact alcohol has on us, both mentally and physically.

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Taking a break can benefit both aspects of our overall wellbeing and could even bring about a renewed perspective on our boozy habits.

It's safe to say many of us had a very boozy Christmas. Credit: Unsplash
It's safe to say many of us had a very boozy Christmas. Credit: Unsplash

Speaking about the physiological benefits of abstinence is Dr Niall Campbell, Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Group Roehampton, which helps people with addiction.

Even within the first 24 hours, he explained your 'blood sugars will normalise', and after a week 'your sleep patterns are likely to improve'.

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He added: "When drinking alcohol, you lose around four times as much liquid as you actually consumed. Giving up alcohol can help you stay hydrated, which is beneficial for your brain.

"Your mood and concentration will be more stable, and headaches are likely to decrease.

"You also won't suffer from effects of dehydration such as lack of motivation and increased fatigue, so will have more energy throughout the day."

The expert also revealed that 'alcohol is an irritant to the stomach lining and causes symptoms like reflux (where stomach acid burns your throat)'.

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Thankfully, this horrid hangover side effect should stop within two weeks of abstinence, but your body will really start to notice changes after the three-to-four week mark when 'blood pressure will reduce'.

Then there's the old liver, which sure does take a beating over the years if you're a regular drinker.

Opting for a healthier lifestyle is popular in January. Credit: Unsplash
Opting for a healthier lifestyle is popular in January. Credit: Unsplash

If untreated, it can lead to irreversible scarring known as cirrhosis, which is the final stage of alcoholic liver disease and is permanent.

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Drinking a large amount of booze, even for just a few days, can lead to a build-up of fats in the liver.

A little reminder that in the UK, men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week, spread over three or more days.

For perspective, a 750ml bottle of red, white or rosé wine with an ABV of 13.5% contains 10 units.

This is where the benefits of abstinence come in, with Campbell stating: "The good news is your liver will start shedding the excess fat if you stop drinking.

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"If your liver function has not been too badly affected by alcohol, it can recover in four to eight weeks."

And if you've managed to stop drinking for 12 weeks or more, you're likely to be 'more energetic and healthier all round'.

LADbible also sought out advice from liver specialist William Alazawi of BMI The Sloane Hospital in Kent.

"For most people, you'll see the benefits of cutting back on alcohol almost straight away," he explained.

"You'll sleep better, you'll almost certainly be eating better, you're more likely to take up some exercise, and you'll probably be thinking more sharply too.

"Your liver will appreciate the break and also start to heal if it's been feeling the effects of you drinking too much. In the longer term, reducing your alcohol intake will consolidate those benefits above plus add more.

Even a small break from alcohol can make the world of difference to our bodies. Credit: Unsplash
Even a small break from alcohol can make the world of difference to our bodies. Credit: Unsplash

"As I said, livers do heal and so if you've damaged yours, it will improve."

He continued: "You don't need to give up alcohol altogether, although a break for a period like Dry January is good. It's about having a sensible relationship with alcohol and drinking within the recommended guidelines.

"For people who are dependent on alcohol, I'd advise against just stopping without seeking the support of your GP or a hepatologist (the branch of medicine that looks at the liver)."

So, all in all, it seems like your body goes under a varied and wide-ranging transformation when you stop drinking alcohol.

But as said by Alazawi, for those who are dependent on drinking it's best to seek out advice from your doctor as stopping cold turkey could be dangerous.

Whatever way you want to go about it, have a gander at the NHS where you can find more info about drinking and quitting.

Words by: Daisy Phillipson

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: New Year, Food And Drink, Alcohol, Addiction, NHS

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