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The act of abandoning the booze for a month at the start of the New Year can fill some people with dread and disgust.
However it is, for some, a yearly ritual to live by. It helps them to feel as though they’re starting the year afresh, becoming healthier inside and doing all-round good things for their body. But what exactly are the benefits that many swear by?
Firstly, it’s pretty obvious to say that cutting back on calories can lead to weight loss (although this isn’t the healthiest way for everybody to achieve weight loss, but we won’t get into that now). Alcohol contains a lot of what people refer to as ‘empty calories’ – meaning that it has a high calorie content but has little effect on your body nutritionally. As a result, having a few glasses of wine or a couple of beers each night is the consumption of calories that aren’t doing anything for our health – except adding to our calorific intake, and therefore possibly having a negative impact on our weight. Cutting out alcohol in your diet isn’t going to have an effect on the fuel and nutrients that your body needs to function – because there is little fuel and nutrients in it to begin with.
The scientific relationship between alcohol and sleep has long been studied. You might be able to relate to the following situation: you’ve had a skinful to drink, and you’ve plonked yourself into bed. You’re out like a light pretty much straight away – but not too many hours later you’re awake again. Then you get back to sleep. Then you’re awake again. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as ‘micro-awakenings’ – often we don’t even realise they’re happening. But they have a negative impact on our sleep.
On a more basic level, if we’re not staying up late into the evening drinking, we’re more likely to get our full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. This helps digestion, focus and productivity.
It has been proven that drinking in excess can weaken our immune systems. We can become particularly more vulnerable to pathogens while being intoxicated, and just one night of drinking heavily can impede the body’s ability to fight off infections we come into contact up to 24 hours later. As a result, we’re naturally more likely to suffer from illnesses such as colds, flus and other viruses if we consume a lot of alcohol. Taking a break for a month can allow the body to reset itself and re-evaluate its immunity responses.
The consequence of many of the negatives of alcohol can unfortunately be that it starts to show up on our face. We can begin to look tired, our skin may dull and ours eyes can be puffy as a result of the lack of quality sleep.
We might be jumping the gun, but we think this is a pretty obvious benefit on cutting back on drinking alcohol. There’s no unnecessary pub spending, no impulse buys on a bottle of wine for the evening when you’re picking up your dinner at the supermarket.
We did some research into how much money you could save by cutting out drinking for a month. Based on the parameters that a couple (one person who drinks two large glasses of wine a night and another who has two pints of lager) goes to the pub four times per week, this would equal (about) £20 per visit, or £80 a week. Cutting out trips to the pub for a month, therefore, would save about £320. That’s not a number to be scoffed at in our opinion.
In our opinion, the challenge of going sober for a month is definitely something to try. Even if just to see which of the previously mentioned symptoms occur for you – if any.
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