By David Saunders, Health Editor | UPDATED: 08:28, 08 July 2020
With Christmas being a period of indulgence, we tend to embrace alcohol a lot more frequently.
By contrast, ditching the alcohol over January has become an increasing trend over the past few years.
We’ve asked our health experts to explore the benefits of saying no to alcohol this month…
1. Shed the post-Christmas food baby
Research led by the University of Sussex, looked at over 800 people participating in Dry January and revealed that three in five lost weight. “Alcohol prevents the body’s ability to digest fats properly, so excessive amounts of fat may build up in the liver and temporarily stop your body from burning fat,” explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist and author of Fat Around The Middle(glenvillenutrition.com).
Dr Glenville adds that, “alcohol prevents the release of glucose from the liver and can cause hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels). This drop in blood sugar often produces a craving for foods which will then raise the blood sugar, such as more alcohol or sugary foods – not good for anyone, especially those concerned about weight gain, especially fat around the middle!”
2. A more satisfying sleep
In addition to the late nights that tend to follow from drinking, too much alcohol can disrupt the quality of your sleep. According to Drinkaware, when you drink alcohol before bed, you spend less time in a deep sleep as the night goes on and more time in the less restful, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep.
This can leave you feeling tired the next day, regardless of how long you stay in bed.
“To help get your body into a better sleeping routine, try to increase your intake of magnesium. Magnesium is needed to relax our muscles, which in turn can help us fall into a peaceful sleep,” explains Nutritionist Cassandra Barns.
To ensure you’re getting enough magnesium, try Natures Plus KalmAssure Magnesium Powder (£24.50, www.revital.co.uk).
3. A happier state of mind
Alcohol is often known as a depressant and can cause low mood levels. “Those consuming excessive alcohol may have lower levels of tryptophan (the amino acid that is converted to serotonin – also known as a ‘happy hormone’). Low serotonin, selenium and vitamin B levels are a major feature of depression, mood swings, anxiety and irritation,” explains Dr Glenville.
4. Think of your liver
Nutritionist Alix Woods explains, “Cutting out alcohol for a month means the liver becomes less fatty and functions better, which is so important for long term health as it has many diverse roles within the body; like digestion, detoxification and hormone balance. Having ‘time-off’ from alcohol…reduces the chances of inflammation and ultimately long-term liver damage.”
5. Prevent wrinkles
“Repeated consumption of alcohol inhibits the liver’s production of digestive enzymes, which then majorly reduces the body’s ability to absorb proteins, fats and the fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, D, E and K), as well as the B complex vitamins especially B1 (thiamine) and folic acid. Many essential nutrients are not retained by the body and are ‘washed out’ rapidly through the urine. This means that alcohol consumption causes a major loss of valuable nutrients and antioxidants. Without these vital elements, we may not have the adequate ingredients to make collagen, meaning we may produce wrinkles more easily. With the loss of antioxidants, we may age much more quickly, losing our vitality and looks,” explains Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns.
6. Deter blood sugar imbalance
“When you have type 2 diabetes, drinking alcohol can cause your blood glucose levels to either rise or fall, depending on how much you have eaten; how much alcohol you consume, how quickly, and the amount of carbohydrate present in the drink, or mixer. Beer and sweet wine can cause blood glucose levels to rise, for example.
Alcohol can also stimulate your appetite so you are more likely to over eat; affect your judgement and will power so you are less likely to make healthy food choices and provides ‘empty’ calories that are readily converted into fat in the body, raising triglyceride levels and contributing to fatty changes in the liver and pancreas, which are associated with insulin resistance.
The calories provided by alcoholic drinks also make it difficult to lose weight and alcohol can interfere with the beneficial effects of anti-diabetes medications,” explains Dr. Sarah Brewer, working in association with CuraLin (www.curalife.co) the type 2 diabetes supplement.