The benefits of a dry July

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Alcohol is a big part of Aussie culture, and although the levels of alcohol consumed by most is considered low risk, binge drinking behaviours and consistently heavy intake can cause harm to yourself and those around you. From Government date, a little over 80% of Australians over the age of 18 had consumed alcohol in the last 12 months, although this does not reflect the frequency or amount consumed. There are many campaigns aimed to reduce alcohol consumption, such as Dry July, Ocsober, or FebFast, to raise funds for charity and to outline to people the positives that no alcohol intake can have on them.

Recommendations for daily alcohol intake is no more than 2 standard drinks per day, which is the equivalent of 2x 120ml glasses of wine, 2 nips of spirits, or around 1.5 stubbies or full strength beer, with the recommendations of having 2 alcohol free days per week. As alcohol is a toxin, having limited intake and alcohol free days gives the liver an opportunity to recover.

But why is limiting intake good for your health? Some short and long term benefits include:
• Reducing kilojoule content from overall dietary intake – this can be beneficial for those with a beer belly, or those monitoring their weight.
• Less pressure on your body – your liver is the organ which detoxifies the blood, and alcohol is a toxin (which explains vomiting when we had too much, and we hangovers are not pleasant experiences). Alcohol also impacts your gastrointestinal tract, increase your risk of getting cancer, and places additional pressure on kidney function.
• Clearer mind – alcohol is very good at clouding and influencing your nervous system functions, which is why you get slurry, cloudy eyed, and forgetful when having too much to drink. By removing alcohol from your intake, you will not experience these symptoms.
• Reduced dehydration – for every 200ml of beer consumed, you produce 320ml of urine!! This additional water output comes from interference in water balance levels. This additional urine output requires your kidneys to work harder, so reductions in alcohol consumption will benefit how your bladder feels, and limit dehydration.
• Less risk of undertaking risky behaviours – as alcohol reduces inhibitions, many people undertake risky behaviours they would not consider under the influence of alcohol.
• Poor absorption of nutrients – alcohol is absorbed in the stomach, and due to its diuretic qualities can cause the loss of many water soluble vitamins.

Alcohol is a wonder product to have when enjoying a social occasion, but excessive intake of it can cause health problems. Not to mention alcohol has limited to no nutritional value.
If you would like to speak with someone regarding drinking behaviours, first speak with your GP who can point you in the right direction for guidance. If you are looking to make changes to your overall dietary intake for nutritional value, speak with an APD.