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Hospital Director's Blog - Dry January, 9 January 2018

Dry January 2018

Cyclists drinking pint of beer

9 January 2018

Happy New Year! January is a great time to look at our health and make any lifestyle changes that we’ve been considering, one of the most popular being ‘Dry January’. 

For those who have overindulged over the festive season, the Dry January challenge is a great way to kick-start the new year. If you need further reasons to ditch the alcohol, here’s a rundown of the top health benefits you might experience:

Healthier weight

Alcoholic drinks can have a considerable amount of calories in them, so embracing an alcohol-free existence may be all you need to do to shed unwanted pounds. The biggest culprit is sugar - in terms of calories, a large glass of wine is the same as eating an ice cream, and a pint of cider has the same amount of calories as a doughnut. Another benefit of being sober is that we make better choices in food – we’re less likely to make impulsive decisions like picking up junk food on the way home.

Healthier skin

Alcohol has a number of effects on your skin. First is dehydration – creating sallow and dull skin and emphasising fine lines, pores and wrinkles. Second is its effect as a ‘vasodilator’ – leading to a puffy complexion and spider veins. Third is all of the sugar and salt mixed into alcoholic drinks – causing over-production of oil in the skin. If you stop drinking and keep yourself hydrated, your skin will likely thank you for it!

Liver recovery

The liver is a vital organ that breaks down food for energy, gets rid of waste and helps defend the body from infection. Regularly drinking too much can cause fat to build up in your liver which can lead to problems. Your liver possesses the remarkable capacity to regenerate itself, so if you stop drinking for a few weeks, your liver should start getting rid of the excess fat and repair itself.

Improved sleep

Alcohol affects the quality of sleep and drinking to excess can mean you experience less of the ‘deep sleep state’ needed to re-energise the body for the next day. Cutting back will improve your quality of sleep and will help your concentration levels.

Better sport performance

Alcohol has a negative effect on your performance in sport, because it dehydrates you, and reduces how much blood sugar your liver produces (which is important for exercise). So an alcohol-free body will allow you to get the most from your workout.

Giving up alcohol for a short amount of time may allow your body to recover, and this sort of discipline also helps raise our personal awareness of how much we drink on a regular basis.

Dry January is a great way to kick-start a healthier 2018 – if you can keep it up for 31 days, you can probably make it a habit!

Philip Luce
Hospital Director

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