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Seven reasons to think about going dry this July

Lose Weight

Do you enjoy the odd beer, wine or cocktail? Many of us do. But sometimes, do you find that you overdo it? Or, that the morning-after-fuzziness sometimes interferes with your day? Perhaps your waistband is feeling tighter and tighter? It could be time to tame your tipples …

Dry July is upon us – it’s the charity fundraiser that challenges participants to ditch alcohol to support adults living with cancer. Here are some reasons to try it!

1. Drop a kilo or two …

If you’re exercising (and even watching what you eat) and still not seeing the weight shift, it could be due to the added effects of boozy beverages. Why? Alcohol provides 29 kilojoules per gram, that’s second only to fat (at 38 kilojoules per gram) so it’s a concentrated kilojoule source. As it is metabolised in the liver, and because your body wants to get rid of it as soon as possible, it is converted into fat and laid down around your middle. Plus, when your body detects alcohol, it stops breaking down fat in order to concentrate on ridding the body of booze. On top of all that, alcohol is an appetite stimulant, making you want to eat more – wonder why chips and kebabs go hand-in-hand with a boozy night out? This cranks up the kilojoules even more. And, if you’re drinking, you’re less likely to be exercising, too.

2. Say bye bye to hangovers

We all know that hangovers are caused by drinking too much alcohol. But as you get older, your body naturally carries less water so the dehydrating effects of alcohol get magnified. Dehydration can result in, and also aggravate, an already thumping headache. And, the feelings last longer and feel more intense the more dehydrated you are.

3. Medication safety

Since alcohol is metabolised in your liver, if you take medicines that are also processed in your body’s waste management system, the rate at which alcohol is handled and detoxified could be slowed. Even some over-the-counter medicines can do this, for example, the heartburn drug, ranitidine hampers alcohol breakdown in the liver. So if you take it, you may well have higher blood-alcohol levels when you’re drinking. Plus, alcohol may interfere with the way that your body processes prescription drugs making some less effective and others circulate in such high levels that they are potentially toxic. Alcohol can also dangerously exaggerate the action of sedative drugs. Speak with your GP for more information.

4. Brain matters

As you get older, your brain is more likely to be affected by alcohol. Alcohol triggers the release of feel-good neurotransmitters, which is why a small amount helps you feel relaxed. But with age your body produces fewer uplifting endorphins and more stress hormones like cortisol. This stress effect contributes to worsening the side effects of alcohol as your body tries to recuperate. Or, you just may feel it all the more acutely because you don’t drink as often as you might have done in the past …

5. Sleep better, snore less

Couples Sleeping

While one nightcap can relax you, too much robs you of restful sleep. After a few too many drinks, you can wake feeling like you haven’t slept at all. Cut the booze and you’re more likely to wake feeling refreshed and have a clearer head, too. Drinking too much alcohol also increases your chances of snoring because it relaxes the muscles that hold the throat open.

6. Clearer, less puffy skin

Alcohol causes the peripheral blood vessels (those close to the surface) to expand and widen. If these are repeatedly enlarged, the result can be thread veins and permanent skin damage, making you look red and flushed. Facial puffiness is caused by the gentle leakage of fluid from enlarged blood vessels. Often, it settles in the eyes and cheeks where the skin is the loosest and can take on more fluid.

7. You may look at alcohol differently

A month off the booze may help you to think more carefully about your drinking habits – hopefully for the better. Fairly recently, scientists discovered the link between alcohol and cancer. This includes bowel, breast, stomach and prostate cancer, as well as mouth and throat cancers. In 2005, there were nearly 3,000 new cases of cancer and 1,376 deaths from cancer due to excessive alcohol consumption[i]. And, as you probably already know, alcohol is a risk factor for liver disease (cirrhosis) and the potential for it increases as your alcohol intake increases. See the table below.

Dancing at Club

MEN[ii]     WOMEN

1 drink/day                            21%        32%

2 drinks/day                         45%        73%

3 drinks/day                         72%        125%

6 drinks/day                         171%     364%

10 drinks/day                      338%     969%

Stick to the Australian Alcohol Guidelines[iii]

For healthy men and women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces your risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury over a lifetime. Drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion.

A standard drink …

1 standard drink = 10g alcohol which is equivalent to:

100ml of table wine
30ml of spirits
250ml of beer
But one drink isn’t always just one drink!

An average restaurant serve of wine of 180ml 12% Alc./Vol = 1.8 drinks
A 375ml can of full strength beer 4.9%Alc./Vol = 1.5 drinks
A 375ml can of pre-mix spirits 5%Alc./Vol = 1.5 drinks
Check the label to find out how many standard drinks are in your serve.

You can’t rectify a long-term problem by taking a month off alcohol. Taking a month off and going back to it with a vengeance will undo your hard work and just as before, problems will accumulate with time.

Even if you decide not to go dry in July, cutting down and being more focused on how much you’re drinking can really give your health a boost.

For more information:

Dry July 2015:

Alcoholics Anonymous:

Cancer Council Australia:

[i] Cancer Council Australia. Improving alcohol control.

[ii] National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol.

[iii] Department of Health. Alcohol – Reduce your risk: new national guidelines for alcohol consumption.

This blog was posted in alcohol, dry july and tagged in health, nutrition, rt health fund, sleep, weight