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Here’s what happens to your body when you give up alcohol for a month

While there are long-term term benefits to cutting down on your alcohol consumption, completely giving up alcohol for Dry January can actually make you feel worse, one expert has said. 

Dr Preethi Daniel from the London Doctors Clinic has shared the impact Dry January has on your body following the indulgent Christmas period.

As your body goes through withdrawal from alcohol dependency, you may experience slight dehydration and an inability to sleep soundly throughout the first few days of the month. Symptoms may also include restlessness, tremors, nausea, sweating and anxiety.

Your liver generally needs four to six weeks of recovery after a period of heavy drinking. Therefore it may take the whole month to fully experience the health benefits of Dry January, such as an improved sleeping pattern and more radiant skin.

However, Dr Michael Apstein, a gastroenterologist, previously stated there is ‘no science’ to support the idea that Dry January is good for your liver.

According to Apstein, “the liver can metabolise a small and steady amount of alcohol without difficulty”. The enzymes that metabolise alcohol are produced by the liver when needed, so a regular drinker is able to metabolise alcohol more effectively than someone who drinks occasionally.

Giving up drinking for a month will therefore reduce your body’s ability to process alcohol. With this in mind, moderation rather than abstinence might be the way forward.

Out of a survey of 1,844 UK Vivino users, a third said they intended to cut back on alcohol for the month ahead. But only 5% intend to follow Dry January, with many planning to take part in ‘Damp January’ instead.

‘Damp January’ involves cutting down on alcohol but still enjoying a few glasses. Low or no alcohol wines could be a way to stick to this goal, as the results from the Global Low and No Alcohol Wine Masters show there are more options than ever before to choose from.

Additionally, Apstein says that having a drink with your meal significantly reduces your blood alcohol level in comparison to drinking on an empty stomach. This means there is no need to give up your usual glass of wine with dinner, as you can still enjoy moderate drinking as part of a healthy lifestyle.


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