Dry January – The great effects of no drinking and why I’m enjoying it

‘Giving up drinking doesn’t make you live longer, it just makes you feel that way’. I remember one of my parent’s friends said this to me over Christmas and it had me thinking, ‘For once I’m doing Dry January and I’m going to stick to it’. And that was that, we’re now 11 days in and I haven’t had a drop. Ok, 11 days isn’t a lot, but it’s the longest I’ve ever gone without a drink. And you know what, my parent’s friends were right, I certainly feel more invincible already.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a drink. I always have. Growing up playing rugby it was a big part of the culture, downing pints of beer was basically compulsory, so I’ve had my fair share of messy nights out. And messy they were. But I was ‘young, wild and free’ (never thought I’d be quoting Whiz Khalifa & Snoop Dogg but there you have it). But a lot has changed for me since then, I’ve matured. Ha! Just kidding. The complete truth is that due to feeling so good off eating well and exercising, I’ve cut down drinking a lot as I always got very depressed a few day after.

Another important truth is that however much you enjoy the taste of alcohol or the way it makes you feel, in almost all respects, it does bad things to your body and brain. Let’s take a look at some of the science behind this shall we…

Your immune system will be more effective

Drinking too often and too much is closely associated with several immune-related health effects. What’s “too often” and “too much,” you mutter? More than four drinks on any day or 14 per week for men; and more than three drinks on any day or seven per week for women according to the National Institutes of Health (not sure why they’re so different but I’m no scientist). Giving up alcohol will strengthen your immune system and make it easier for your body to fight off infection. So if you want to reduce your chances of getting ill, cut the drinking out.

Alcohol make you eat more

Drunk munchies is a result of alcohol heightening the senses. Even mild intoxication can increase your brain activity in the hypothalamus, making you more sensitive to the smell of food and prompting you to eat more. A studypublishedin the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that alcohol is often linked with people overeating and having a poor diet. Bottom line, if you reduce alcohol intake, you won’t receive those cravings for bad food.

You will sleep better

I go out, I guzzle down some cocktails, 12am hits I’ve run out of steam and I’m ready for bed. I get home, pass out immediately only to find that at 6am I am wide awake and can’t get back to sleep. If this sounds familiar, it’s because your body is working overtime to metabolise the alcohol and therefore causes disrupted sleep patterns. A few drinks will usually conk you out but once it’s metabolised, you’re likely to wake up or have a poorer quality of sleep, leading you to feel like crap the next day.

Decrease your risk in getting certain types of cancer

Consumption of alcoholic drinks is a known human carcinogen. Having read a lot online about it, alcohol appears to increase the risk of head and neck cancers, liver cancers, breast cancer and colorectal cancer. There’s also lots of building evidence that booze is associated with increased risks of melanoma and of prostate and pancreatic cancers. This is enough, certainly for me, to stop me from ever drinking excessively.

Your skin is likely to look better

We all want to have good skin right? It’s what everyone see’s on a daily basis. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you pee out more liquid than if you drank water. Pissing in double time prevents your body from extracting water from urine in the kidneys. The result? Dry skin that can appear lusterless or ashy. Cut the drinking down and your skin’s appearance will improve rapidly.

To sum it all up

Drinking alcohol is bad. Everyone knows that and we can see from the above some of the more serious repercussions of drinking an excessive amount. My advice, life’s too short to miss out on having fun and enjoy yourself, so pick up a glass of wine on a Wednesday night with dinner, go for a few drinks on the weekend with friends. Just avoid drinking it excessively and or binging on it. You’ll thank yourself when you’re 55 and still able to party like a Rockstar. In the meantime, I’m about to head down to my fridge and crack open a nice cold Heineken beer, alcohol free of course, it’s still January!

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