Dry January, a toil or a pleasure when you know what’s good for you?

By Joyce Rubotham

According to Alcohol Ireland since 1995, Irish teenage girls have been drinking as much and sometimes more than their male counterparts.

That’s us ladies. The now late 30’s and early 40’s generation of women. We broke the trend and started consuming alcohol like no other generation of women before us.

Many of us are now mothers, women high up the career ladder, writers and esteemed members of the blogging community. We drink at home and sometimes when the children are there.

 Ireland Today writer, Joyce Rubotham is glass half full in Dry January

Ireland Today writer, Joyce Rubotham is glass half full in Dry January

We normalise our alcohol consumption with funny memes and Facebook posts and ignore warnings from the medical community.

Professor Frank Murry, president of the Royal College of Physicians spoke on RTE’s Radio last summer and his prognosis was rather stark.

Many people are over-doing it with alcohol and don’t even realise it, he warned.  And a real shocker is, liver blood tests may not indicate how damaged your liver actually is.

Terrifyingly, you could actually think you’re fine.  You may just feel a bit tired sometimes and write it off.

But according to Professor Murry, patients often arrive in hospital with severe liver damage, having no idea what’s wrong with them and they can and do at times, actually die.

While well-intended, this kind of communication may not be reaching the people who really need to listen to this potentially life-saving advice.

So, in the midst of dry January,
perhaps think more about the benefits than risks of giving up booze.

Try focusing on what happens when you stop drinking.

 

Better sleep

sleep

 

Drinking makes us drowsy and after a night on the tiles or even tucking into a bottle of wine, we tend to fall asleep quickly.

However a disturbed sleep is usually what follows. After consuming alcohol, the brain behaves the way it would normally when awake and resting.

The result is poor quality sleep, often followed the next day by confusion and irritability.

Sleep is a mood stabiliser. When we are well-rested and fresh, everyday decisions and tasks become easier. Ditching the booze brings clarity and energy to our lives.

Weight loss

belly

 

In addition to the empty calories contained in our favourite drink (125 calories/glass of wine) alcohol increases our appetite. American studies show women in particular, eat more when they drink.

One hour after the last drink our liver starts to work hard to metabolise and remove the alcohol from our bodies. The pancreas then produces extra insulin which in turn lowers blood sugar.

And boom we’re hungry but not for a fresh fruit salad or low-fat yogurt. We crave fat and carbohydrate.   Those who run the local fish and chip shop already know about this phenomenon.

Swapping booze for willpower makes it much easier to control sugar cravings and stick to a healthy diet.

Better skin

skincare

Women are the target market for a million and one skin-care products. Creams, lotions, face masks, multi-vitamin and herb extract supplements.

Instead of adding something that costs money and has dubious science behind it, why not remove something that we know is not good for our skin?

It only takes a few days without alcohol to see an improvement in skin condition and a brighter complexion.

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases fluid loss through urination and sweating.

Cutting out alcohol improves hydration and can alleviate the symptoms of common skin conditions such as eczema and dandruff.

Improved liver function

Drinking large volumes of alcohol, even for just a few days causes fat to accumulate in the liver.

This condition is very common and has no symptoms. If not treated, fatty liver will lead to liver disease. The treatment is free if you stop drinking.

The liver is one of the most complex organs in the human body and it has an amazing capacity to regenerate and self-heal. If, you allow it.

Some sources, like the NHS, advise that even giving up alcohol for two weeks can have a large impact on liver health.

Staff at New Scientist  tested out the effect of dry January on their own livers. The results were incredible.

After only one month without alcohol, participants had reduced their liver fat by 15 to 20%.

A healthy liver will boost immunity, metabolism and general vitality. Give it a chance and it will make your life healthier.

Money saved

cashbox-1642989_960_720

Drinking at home is definitely more cost effective than going out for the night. However, popping an extra bottle or two of wine into the shopping trolley can mask how much we are actually spending on booze.

Seeing how our cash spend on alcohol adds up, can really be an eye-opener. When we think about it, is it really money well spent?

If you’ve decided dry January is not for you, that’s understandable.  January is a tough month after the fun and frolics of Christmas have died down.

But why not dry February? January might be the darkest month of the year but February is the shortest because the chances are you will possibly indulge in March for St Patrick’s Day.

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