Dry January grows in popularity year on year.
The campaign by Alcohol Change UK, encourages participants to give up alcohol for the entire month of January.
The dry January one-month booze-free challenge can have a significantly positive impact on your health.
Alcohol has proven to increase the risk of developing a range of health problems (including cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) and that risk increases the more you drink on a regular basis.
Ruth Kander, our dietitian, looks at what is considered a safe amount of alcohol consumption.
The UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMOs) guideline for keeping health risks from alcohol to a low level for both men and women states that:
- It is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
- Regularly drinking as much as 14 units per week, it’s best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days.
– If you have one or two heavy drinking episodes a week, you increase your risk of death from long-term illness and injuries.
- Cutting down the amount you drink, a smart way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days a week.
A useful website for more information about alcohol is www.drinkaware.co.uk
What is a unit of alcohol?
How long does alcohol stay in your body?
On average, it takes about one hour for your body to break down one unit of alcohol, however, this can vary, depending on:
- Your weight
- Whether you’re male or female
- Your age
- Your metabolism – how quickly or slowly your body turns food into energy
- How much food you have eaten
- The type and strength of the alcohol you have consumed
- Whether you’re taking medication and, if so, what type
- It can also take longer if your liver isn’t functioning normally
If I am on medicines can I drink alcohol?
People taking sedative drugs (like diazepam/valium) or antidepressants (like fluoxetine/Prozac) should avoid alcohol altogether.
There are some antibiotics; metronidazole and tinidazole which just do not mix with alcohol – drinking with these will make you sick. But for most commonly prescribed antibiotics, drinking is unlikely to cause problems so long as it is within the low-risk alcohol unit guidelines.
People taking long-term medications should be careful about drinking, as alcohol can make some drugs less effective and long-term conditions could get worse. Examples of long-term medications include drugs for epilepsy, diabetes, or drugs like warfarin to thin the blood.
What are the consequences of drinking too much alcohol?
- Low mood/mood swings
- Liver problems
- Heart problems
- Cancers (mouth, tongue, throat, oesophagus)
- Weight gain
- Poor sleep
- Blood pressure instability
By Ruth Kander BSc(Hons)RD | Dietitian
If you wish to discuss ways to maintain a healthy diet and reduce your alcohol consumption, Ruth holds a virtual clinic every Friday from 9am-2pm. Please call our reception team on 020 7353 5678 if you would like to request a face-to-face appointment
The 2016 update on government alcohol guidelines
With the new guidelines put into place in January we’re keen to find out how people are finding the changes. Have you been able to make the small changes, or are you not bothered by any government recommendations?
Are you drinking more than you realise?
The last set of alcohol guidelines were released in 1995, although there has been updates since regarding drinking in pregnancy and young people. This is much welcomed update for world health experts and anyone concerned with how much drinking can affect their health.
The main point to take away from this recent update is that chief medical officers in the UK now say that new research has shown that even drinking a small amount can cause an increased risk of cancer. For this reason, the amount of alcohol you should consume a week has been reduced and it is now recommended that men and women have the same weekly intake of units per week.
The main updates to alcohol guidelines
- The guides have been changed to represent how much should be drank in a week to help reduce the idea that daily drinking is healthy
- Men and women have seen a reduction in the amount they should be drinking on a weekly basis. Both sexes should now drink no more than 14 units per week
- If you decide to drink your entire 14 units per week, it should be evenly spread across at least three days
- Your risk of death from long term illness, accident or injury, is increased if you ‘binge drink’ 1 or more times a week
- It is highly recommended to have ‘non-drinking’ days throughout the week
For further detail of how alcohol can have a negative impact on your health, head to drinkaware.co.uk for more information and advice on drinking.
If you are concerned about the amount of alcohol you are drinking and would like to speak to a GP, you can book an appointment online.