Our clinical column: How to reduce your alcohol intake to improve your health
This month marks Dry January, a campaign from Alcohol Change UK to encourage people to have 31 alcohol-free days.
The aim is to improve both your physical and mental health by taking a break from drinking alcohol. Benefits can include:
- Increased energy
- Better mental health and concentration
- Brighter skin
- A sense of achievement
- Saving money
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower risk of stroke, hypertension, cancer and liver disease
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Better mood, memory and quality of sleep
- Help with weight management
Any reduction in the amount you drink every week will be beneficial – you do not necessarily need to go teetotal to feel the benefits of drinking less. There are some simple ways you can make a difference to your health:
- Setting some drink-free days each week – try the Drinkaware or Drink Free Days App, available on the App Store or Google Play
- Switch to lower strength drinks
- Change your routine – arrange social plans other than going out for drinks, don’t feel you need to participate in drinking alcohol when there are rounds of drinks, and wait for your drink with dinner to help you to drink less
- Set a budget for alcohol and don’t spend over this
- Try new pastimes – if you drink alcohol to occupy your time, try a new hobby, exercise or simple activities like cleaning or DIY
It is recommended to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across three days or more. That is around six medium (175ml) glasses of wine, or six pints of 4% beer. There is no completely safe level of drinking, but staying within these guidelines lowers your risk of harming your health.
Please be aware that you should not suddenly stop drinking if you are drinking a significant amount. Please seek advice from your GP if you wish to stop drinking alcohol completely and discuss options including the possibility of an assessment of your liver health.
Taking up the Dry January challenge is a fantastic way to improve your health, now and through the year.
You can read more at www.nhs.uk here >
Dr Deb Ghosh
YouTube channel - @alchoholchangeuk595