The month of July is upon us, which means thousands of people around Australia are going alcohol-free to raise funds for people affected by cancer. Since beginning in 2008, Dry July has inspired more than 160,000 Aussies to go dry for a month, and has raised $37 million for cancer patients, their families and carers.
Not only does Dry July help others by providing much required funds to those in need, having a month off alcohol has a number of great health benefits, so you’re helping yourself too!
Studies have shown that even just one alcohol-free month boosts both your short- and long-term health and can help you drink less in the months following. Let’s take a look at some of these benefits:
Alcoholic drinks are incredibly high in calories and provide no nutritional value. People who drink daily can consume hundreds, if not thousands, of extra calories every week. Not drinking for a month will not only cut out these empty calories, but will also help to stop the other unhealthy nutritional choices that are often made when consuming alcohol (i.e. the McDonalds run on the way home after from a night out).
Being hungover also provides a great excuse for skipping your morning run or gym class. By giving it up, chances are you will be better at sticking to your exercise routine and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
One of the first things noticed by those who stop drinking is the improvement in their energy levels. Regular drinking can affect the quality of your sleep, making you feel tired and sluggish.
When you drink alcohol before bed you may fall into deep sleep quicker. This is why some people find drinking alcohol helps them drop-off to sleep. But as the night goes on you spend less time in this deep sleep and more time than usual in the less restful, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep. Less time spent in the REM stage of sleep means our bodies are not as restored and refreshed as they could be every morning.
Another major difference people notice when they quit drinking is their appearance. The liver breaks down alcohol and releases a toxic by-product that dries out your skin and dehydrates other body tissues. Alcohol can also clog your pores and cause inflammation and redness. Not only will you feel fresher by not having a drink, you will also look better!
Improved Athletic Performance and Recovery:
Alcohol has an impact on hydration levels, motor skills and muscle recovery. Research has shown that consuming alcohol after strenuous workouts can magnify delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) by slowing the recovery process and increasing soreness. Abstaining from alcohol will help your muscles repair, recover and grow back stronger from your training session, rather than spending time metabolising the alcohol instead.
Not only will you feel more energised from having a better night’s sleep, your mental health could also improve. Alcohol can worsen feelings of depression and anxiety. By quitting drinking you will have more control over your emotions and be less likely to suffer from the mood swings associated with alcohol consumption.
So if you are thinking about having a period of time off alcohol, why not give it a go now! Reap the rewards of both looking good and feeling better, and help raise funds for the fantastic cause that is Dry July.