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Dry July, a not-for-profit organisation that challenges people to abstain from drinking alcohol for the month of July to support adults living with cancer, is not only a fantastic way to raise money for a worthwhile charity, but also a great way of detoxing and giving your body a break from the booze. The benefits of giving up alcohol for Dry July are rich – weight loss, better night’s sleep, clearer skin, and better moods amongst others.
But what happens to your body when you stop drinking alcohol? The most immediate effect is self-empowerment – just the simple act of consciously choosing to give-up drinking alcohol leaves us feeling in control of bodies, our health, and our future.
An hour after our last drink and our liver starts working overtime to clear the alcohol from the blood stream and to prevent alcohol poisoning. Our pancreas also starts producing extra insulin, which explains those all too common carb cravings we experience when we’ve been drinking.
After 12 to 24 hours, full detoxification begins and your body’s blood sugar levels begin to stabilise. According to performance dietician Jessica Spendlove of Sydney, our bodies can only process a particular amount of alcohol per hour, roughly one drink per hour, and whilst trying to process this alcohol is unable to simultaneously process any food we might eat. What does this mean? Well it means that burger and fries we washed down with a few beers can’t be processed efficiently, and so our body just stores it as fat instead. Not good for the waistline! Although it may be difficult, it is highly recommended to refuel your body with healthy fruits, vegetables, and salads when drinking.
After 72 hours we should have completely pulled through the hangover stage and not have any lingering symptoms. It is at this stage that our sleeping patterns should gradually improve and we find ourselves having a more restful night’s sleep, which is integral to our overall health and wellbeing.
One week after ditching the alcohol our sleep should come more deeply and we should wake up feeling more refreshed. Skin should also develop a brighter tone, and conditions usually exacerbated by alcohol consumption such as acne, eczema, and rosacea, may also begin to improve. Dietician Jessica Spendlove also says to look out for a general improvement in mood, mental clarity, and concentration.
Between two weeks and a month off the booze is when the big changes start showing, including a shrinking waistline and reduction in dress size. If a lot of alcohol was previously consumed, then the weight loss effects will be significantly more noticeable as your body begins to function more efficiently on less sugar and calories. It’s also good news for our liver – an impressive organ that is capable of regenerating up to 80% of existing damage – as after fourteen days alcohol-free liver fat is reduced by 15%. Spendlove also says this stage brings with it an improvement in the quality and appearance of our skin, hair, and nails.
Whilst participating in Dry July is commendable and a sure-fire way of shifting some pounds and getting some energy back after a long-term reduction in alcohol consumption, the benefits can only get better. Our risk of chronic conditions, including liver, mouth, and breast cancers are reduced, as is our risk of cardiac disease, and weight-related problems such as obesity and diabetes. All in all, Dry July is a fantastic incentive to detox, cleanse, and improve our bodies, minds, and overall quality of life.