Drinking alcohol has long been an ingrained part of the Aussie culture, but last year polls showed that more Aussies were purchasing alcohol during the height of COVID lockdowns than previously, and more people reported alcohol intake to cope with their anxiety and stress. While we’re still navigating our new normal through the pandemic, now is as good a time as any to think about our alcohol intake and the health impacts this might be having.
Dry July is a well-known initiative by the Dry July Foundation that fundraises money to support people affected by cancer, by encouraging people to cut out alcohol for the whole month of July. Apart from the obvious benefits of helping a good cause, the benefits of taking part in Dry July go beyond that and can have some really positive outcomes on your health! Our Dietitian Kelsey outlines the top 3 reasons a Dry July can be a great idea:
1. Better weight management
Alcohol intake can be a key contributor to excess calorie (energy) intake for many people. Alcohol itself is higher in calories per gram than carbohydrates and protein, meaning it is very easy to consume a large number of calories in a small volume of liquids. On top of this, the mixers often used with alcohol are usually high in calories, and alcohol intake has also been shown to drive increased food intake! Even if you aren’t committed to completely cutting out alcohol, reducing intake each week can do wonders for weight management.
2. Improved hydration
Alcohol is a known diuretic which means that it increases how much you urinate. It is estimated that for every 200ml of beer consumed, the body produces 320ml of urine! This means the kidneys have to work harder to do their job, and your risk of dehydration (mild or severe) is increased. When you reduce your alcohol intake, you’ll likely notice that your skin looks fresher and plumper (hello natural glow!), concentration improves and you may feel fitter during exercise too.
3. Improved mental health
One of the most important side effects of reducing alcohol intake is how positively it can impact your mood and mental health. Although alcohol often surrounds happy, social occasions and you may feel like it contributes to having fun, alcohol itself is a depressant. Drinking can make situations feel worse than they are, and can exacerbate low moods. Many people turn to alcohol to help ease stress or wind down after a long day, but doing this regularly can actually do the opposite. Not to forget, the next day anxiety that many people experience – that feeling of anxiousness, embarrassment or low moods after a few too many drinks!
Some time off alcohol can often be a real eye-opener for people and highlights how much it is likely having on your mental clarity and wellbeing.
Not sure what to do with yourself if you’re not drinking alcohol? There is an increasing range of non-alcoholic beers, wines and spirits that are available in bottle shops so you don’t have to feel like you’re missing out.
These are three great reasons to try reducing your alcohol intake, but there’s also plenty more! If you’re looking for a health kickstart, why not try Dry July where you can also make a difference for those affected by cancer.