Health

Why a booze-free month may be the perfect start to 2018

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After the excesses of Christmas, many people decide to give up booze for the month of January in the hope that it will do them some good.

According to Alcohol Concern, five million Britons took part in Dry January last year.

So what are the benefits that experts say it can bring?

Lose weight

One of the main benefits is the chance to shed some of the pounds potentially put on over the Christmas period.

Alcohol is packed with "empty" calories - those with almost no nutritional value that can make us fat and don't fill us up.

A pint of beer contains around 200kcal, similar to a packet of crisps.

According to Cancer Research UK's alcohol calculator, if you would normally drink a large glass of wine each day, cutting this out for a month could save you nearly 10,000 calories - that's four times the recommended daily allowance for an average man.

Sleep better, snore less

Alcohol can make you feel sleepy and drop off quicker, but drinking regularly can upset your overall sleep pattern and leave you tired, research suggests.

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A few years ago, Dr Richard de Visser from the University of Sussex carried out a study with 857 British adults taking part in January. After going for a month without alcohol, 62% of those in the study said they had better sleep.

Drinking can also make you more likely to snore because it relaxes the tissues in your throat.

More energy

If you abstain, you obviously won't get any hangovers. And you may find that you feel more energetic if you are also sleeping better.

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Two-thirds of the participants in Dr de Visser's study said they had more energy by giving up alcohol for a month.

Better skin

Alcohol can make you dehydrated and some say this takes its toll on the appearance of your skin.

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Certainly, some people find that alcohol gives them a flushed face.

Switching from alcohol to drinking more water is advisable to help your complexion.

Save money

An easily measurable benefit is a healthier bank balance. Cutting out alcohol could save you a significant amount of money if you normally spend quite a lot on drinks.

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Cutting out a large glass of wine every night could save you around £124 by the end of January, according to Cancer Research UK which is asking people to raise money for medical research by giving up booze and signing up to its Dryathlon.

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Sense of achievement

Keeping your willpower can give you a feeling of satisfaction that you have reached your goal.

Nearly three-quarters of the Dry January participants in Dr de Visser's study maintained lower levels of harmful drinking six months later.

Brewer's droop

Although alcohol can make people feel more amorous, it is linked to erectile dysfunction. For some men, abstaining from alcohol may help reverse their impotence.

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