What taking a break from alcohol can do for your health

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·Features and Health Editor
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With Dry July once again at our front door there are plenty of Aussies choosing to go without alcohol for the next month - even with current lockdowns, which previously saw a spike in alcohol consumption.

And if the rise of alcohol-free drink alternatives is anything to go by, there are more and more people going without booze much more permanently, and it's no surprise given how much giving up the drink can actually do for your health - both physically and mentally.

hand covering glass to signal not to refill
More and more people are choosing to skip drinking alcohol. Photo: Getty

Speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle, dietitian Jessica Spendlove has shared just some of the benefits that can come from taking a month off drinking alcohol.

Clearer skin

"Alcohol dehydrates the skin, which causes cells to lose their plumpness and elasticity. This can lead to wrinkles and fine lines.

"Not drinking for a whole month and upping your intake in water to two litres a day, can ensure your skin stays hydrated and can allow you to have a clear, soft and smooth complexion."

Clearer mind

"You will be able to think more clearly and focus on work tasks efficiently as your mind is more refreshed and ready to go."

Dietician Jessica spendlove
Dietician Jessica says there are plenty of benefits to not drinking. Photo: Supplied

Improved fitness performance and fast recovery

"When you consume a lot of alcohol every week it can impact your athletic performance, this can also be broken down into your hydration levels, motor skills and muscle recovery.

"Consuming alcohol after strenuous workouts can delay your muscle soreness by slowing down the recovery process, but it will instead increase the length of time you are sore.

"When you take a break from alcohol you will start to see improvements in your fitness performances and will recover quicker with lower levels of pain."

Weight loss

"This is one of the most common benefits when you’re staying away from alcohol for a period. Alcohol generally has more calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates.

"Make sure when you’re taking a break from alcohol you replace it with something else that is not high in calories. After a couple of weeks off drinking, you will start to see your clothes fitting better, especially around the waistline."

Better quality of sleep

"Regular alcohol consumptions can affect the quality of your sleep, making you feel tired and run down the next day.

"This is due to alcohol disrupting your sleep cycle. After one week without alcohol, you’ll see improvements in your sleeping patterns, and you’ll feel more energised."

Sleep. Young Woman Sleeping In Bed
Less alcohol can mean better sleep. Photo: Getty

Alcohol-free drink alternatives on the rise

Of course, these days there are so many more non-alcoholic 'grown up' drinks on the market, making the thought of giving up wine or beer for some perhaps a little less daunting.

Craft Zero, for example, hosts a range of non-alcoholic beverages from around the globe, and co-founder Sherif Goubran tells Yahoo Lifestyle sales of non-alcoholic beers, wines and spirits "have exploded" in the last year.

"We are now on track to multiply sales during July 2021 ten times fold compared to July 2020," he tells us.

"The range of products now available have also increased dramatically and the quality of products and flavours have improved so much during the last one to two years compared to what they used to be."

craft zero alcohol free drinks
The sales of alcohol-free alternatives have exploded in recent years. Photo: CraftZero

Sherif and fellow co-founder Marc Naggar had worked in the liquor industry for almost 10 years - specifically wine distribution - when they decided to shift to a more health conscious lifestyle.

"Especially being new parents, alcohol was taking its toll and we had no time to put up with its downsides. So we tasted a range of non alcoholic craft beers, wines and spirits and were blown away by the quality of the products," Sherif explains.

He says having the option to drink what they consider to be 'grown up' drinks, without having to consume alcohol is why the popularity of the beverages has exploded. He also thinks the societal pressure around drinking is shifting.

"People now have a choice to drink sophisticated grown up drinks that are delicious rather than sugary sodas or just water," he says.

"And you no longer need to explain why you're not drinking, you now have an option to choose not to drink alcohol.

"Some of our customers are also pregnant women who can not drink alcohol but crave the experience.

"Others are active consumers who do not want to give up their weekends to put up with a hangover. Some are parents that need to be alert and present for their little ones but also enjoy a beer or wine. Others are unable to drink alcohol at all due to various health reasons."

Head shot of young beautiful woman drinking wine while using smartphone at home during the day.
Many want the 'experience' but not the booze factor. Photo: Getty

Dietician's Top tips for staying sober this Dry July

If you're undertaking DryJuly, or just wanting a break from booze at any time, Jessica Spendlove has shared some of her tips:

Tip 1: Tell your friends and family that you’re doing Dry July, and recruit some comrades to help raise funds, awareness and reap the many benefits of taking a month off alcohol.

Tip 2: Make plans with friends and family that you can look forward to which don’t centre around drinking – hiking, coastal walks, or morning brunches. Make the most of getting to bed earlier and waking up earlier to get active - lockdowns permitting!

Tip 3: Replace your usual alcohol with mocktails, kombucha, soda water, herbal tea or other non-alcoholic drinks you can enjoy to keep you going.

Tip 4: Drink your non-alcoholic beverages from a nice fancy glass – there is something about the action drinking from a nice glass which makes the process so much more enjoyable.

If you're having a bit of a tough time during the lockdowns we urge you to join our 30-day mental health challenge for July. It is all about focusing on your mental wellbeing and learning some new techniques to help you cope - one of them being no alcohol for a day!

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