Giving up the booze for the month of January is now a well-established annual ritual for many people, and research into participant behaviour from Public Health England has demonstrated that taking part can lead to healthier drinking habits throughout the year, by disrupting drinking patterns adopted by most of us over the festive season before they become a firm habit.
A poll of 1,500 participants of a previous year’s Dry January found that 67% had successfully maintained lower levels of drinking for at least six months after completing the challenge, with 70% also reporting around 6lb weight loss due to the reduction of empty calories associated with alcohol consumption. In addition, 63% reported improvements to their concentration and sleeping habits.
According to research carried out by University College London, giving up alcohol for a period of four weeks can cut the chances of developing serious diseases, with improvements to liver function, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels and a lowered risk of diabetes.
However, if you are a very heavy drinker or an alcoholic, seek professional advice and support from your GP or an alcohol service before attempting to go teetotal, as withdrawal symptoms can pose a risk to health.
If you are concerned about your own or someone else’s drinking habits, you can visit www.alcoholconcern.org.uk for help, advice and the link between alcohol consumption and various health problems.
How many units of alcohol?
Are you aware of the proposed NHS guidelines?
According to proposed NHS guidelines, both women and men should aim to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, equivalent to 14 single shots of spirits, seven standard glasses of wine or six pints of beer. It also urges drinkers to consider setting aside a few ‘alcohol-free’ days each week and also recommends pregnant women avoid alcohol altogether.
The new recommended limits are being introduced following a review of the most up-to-date scientific evidence available, which may indicate even moderate, regular quantities of alcohol can be harmful to health.
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