‘Seven surprising ways alcohol affects the body’ as interest in dry February rises by a quarter on last year

The success of Dry January 2021 is spilling into the following months, with searches for Dry February up 28% on last year[1] and interest in Dry March up 177%[2], research by alcohol-free spirits producer Bax Botanics reveals.

As more people realise the benefits of time off from drinking, Bax Botanics reveals some of the lesser-known effects that booze has on your body.

Chris Bax, head distiller of Bax Botanics, said: “Dry January was absolutely immense for us and the whole sector this year, but lockdown seems to have prompted people to keep their detox going.

“Interest in Dry February appears to be up by more than a quarter on last year, while some brave people are already thinking about Dry March!

“The British public deserve great credit for making an effort to be so healthy at a time of such stress and worry.

“There are huge physical and mental benefits to cutting down on alcohol, and for those who want to cut down this year, there’s plenty of great-tasting alternatives out there.”

How alcohol affects your body

Stress and anxious thoughts Many of us are feeling more stressed and anxious because of the pandemic, but alcohol can exacerbate these feelings. This can be particularly acute the day following a drink, when alcohol starts to leave your body and a hangover sets in. The drop in blood sugar levels causes more stress in your brain, triggering anxious thoughts and feelings.

An aged appearance Alcohol can impact your appearance as every time we drink, it dehydrates the skin. People who drink regularly often look older than those who don’t for this reason. Alcohol also inflames the skin, causing redness that can become permanent over time. It may take as long as a week without drinking for the skin to bounce back.

Split hair and brittle nails The dehydration caused by alcohol can impact your hair, making it appear dull and lifeless and more prone to split ends. This is because our hair is as reliant upon hydration as the rest of your body. Having brittle and very dry nails can also be a symptom of drinking alcohol.

Nightmares and bad sleep Alcohol has a negative impact on your sleep and can even give you nightmares. While it may feel as though you drift off as soon as your head hits the pillow, alcohol will be disrupting your REM sleep – the period in the night when we dream. REM sleep is supposed to be restorative, but disruption can cause drowsiness and poor concentration during the day.

Itchy, bloodshot eyes Staying off the booze can improve your eye health. Binge-drinking can cause symptoms associated with dry eyes, such as swollen blood vessels, This can make the eyes look bloodshot, and cause itchiness, irritation and fluctuation in vision.

Killing ‘good’ gut bacteria Having healthy gut bacteria is important for staving off inflammatory conditions such as eczema, but alcohol can have a negative impact on our microbiome by killing many of the beneficial bacteria. If stomach problems are becoming an issue, cutting down on drinking can allow the “good” bacteria in your gut to come back.

Loss of memory We all know alcohol impacts the brain, because of its impact on slurred speech and difficulties retaining memories. This is because booze alters the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. But long term effects are far worse. A period of prolonged heavy drinking can actually shrink brain volume, which is more commonly a sign of the brain ageing.

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