Dr Nitin Shori By Medical Director Published:

Did you get to the end of Dry January without drinking a drop of alcohol? Well done.

And if not, don’t worry. There’s always next year. In fact, why wait? Giving up or reducing alcohol intake is beneficial at any time.

Dry January has become increasingly popular as people begin to better understand the many health benefits of reducing your alcohol intake or giving up altogether.

The Huffington Post asked me to explain the positive impact that Dry January has on various parts of the body, including the brain, liver, kidney and skin. They weren’t able to include all of my advice so I’m sharing it here. (There’s a link to the Huffington Post article below)

It’s worth remembering that help is available if you need support in reducing how much alcohol you consumer and there’s a link below the article to the page on the Pharmacy2U Online Doctor service where you’ll find more information.

What does Dry January do to the…

Alcohol is a depressant and makes people feel relaxed and uninhibited by altering their brain chemistry.
However, prolonged drinking can trigger depression and lethargy. Alcohol also disrupts sleep patterns.
Stopping drinking allows brain chemistry to normalise.
Initially, this can lead to trouble sleeping but that quickly subsides.
Alcohol also causes the dehydration that is one of the main causes of hangover headaches.
Having given up alcohol, you should be properly hydrated, sleep better and be in a better mood.
Permanent changes can occur in the brains of people who drink a lot and they should seek professional advice before reducing how much they drink.

The largest internal organ in the human body, the liver removes alcohol from the body.
The liver is resilient and may be capable of repairing recent damage, although the process is not guaranteed and can take some time.
Abstaining from alcohol for a month won’t do your liver any harm but that’s unlikely to be long enough for it to recover from any scarring caused by heavy long-term drinking.
However, even if you’ve been a heavy drinker for years, stopping or reducing how much alcohol you drink will bring significant short and long-term health benefits.

The kidneys filter harmful substances from the blood, including alcohol. Alcohol can cause changes in kidney function and reduce the body’s ability to filter your blood effectively.
Another important job for the kidneys is keeping the right amount of water in your body and alcohol affects their ability to do this.
Alcohol also places strain on the liver, which in turn places strain on the kidneys, which work harder to compensate.
Alcohol also increases blood pressure, which means the kidneys have to work harder.
Giving your kidneys a break from alcohol allows them time to recover.
Providing you have done no permanent damage to your kidneys, they should start to recover as soon as you stop drinking.

Drinking alcohol leads to dehydration and is also thought to deprive the skin of vitamins and nutrients.
Heavy drinking over a prolonged period has been linked to Rosacea, a skin disorder which leads to a tendency to blush.
Alcohol can also lead to facial swelling, or puffiness, and weight gain.
Stopping drinking alcohol supports proper hydration and is definitely beneficial for your skin.
Exposed red blood vessels in your face will start to constrict after a month of abstinence. Puffiness will also reduce, leaving you looking and feeling much better.

Abstaining from alcohol will give your throat time to recover, reduce the likelihood of acid reflux and an upset stomach, and leave you no longer needing to go to the toilet as often, reducing the risk of dehydration.
Alcoholic drinks are packed with calories too and stopping drinking should help you lose weight.

Regular heavy drinking can damage the heart muscle.
Drinking can also lead to weight gain, which places additional strain on the heart. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol also causes raised blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Stopping drinking will improve your heart health, which can be further enhanced by exercise and eating a sensible diet.

The Pharmacy2U Online Doctor service provides help and advice on reducing alcohol consumption here.

You can read the full Huffington Post article here.