IT'S February 1, so that might mean you're planning on going big on the booze this evening if you have been doing Dry January.
But one expert has warned that a blowout could be dangerous for your health.
Nutritionist Hannah Macey said that you might be thinking about rewarding yourself with a big glass of wine this evening for getting through the month of January without alcohol.
However, she said you might be reversing all of the hard work you've put in.
"Our poor body has so much additional work to do when we drink, our detoxification system needs to step up a gear.
"Our liver is a strong and robust organ, but this hit of toxins means it negatively affects it, which in turn may affect how it processes other toxins and makes the immune system weaker, which is why it’s common to catch a cold after drinking," she said.
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Aside from catching a nasty cold, you might also suffer different health issues, the lead nutritionist at Feel Complete said.
When we start drinking again after a month of abstinence, our gut health suffers, Hannah said.
Booze makes the stomach produce more acid, which can cause your stomach lining to become inflamed and can show through symptoms including diarrhoea, heartburn, bloating, and gas, the expert added.
"This inflammation can also increase permeability (leaky gut) and damage the tissues in the intestines.
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"This will decrease the ability to absorb nutrients from foods properly, which will potentially cause malabsorption issues, dehydration and lead to electrolyte imbalances.
"A leaky gut has been linked to changes in mood and anxiety," she said.
As well as this, it can also negatively affect our gut microbiome and does not support our good bacteria which have many important jobs around the body including digestion of food, supporting hormones, the immune system and even our mental health, Hannah said.
However, one study published in June 2022 found that one beer a day could help your gut.
A trial on 19 blokes by Nova University Lisbon in Portugal found the daily tipple boosted antioxidants that also give wine its health kick.
Writing in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, lead author Professor Ana Faria, said: “Results from this study show that drinking beer increases gut bacterial diversity without significantly changing body weight.
“Lower bacterial diversity has been associated with diabetes and heart disease.”
2. Weight gain
As we start to drink more, it's inevitable that the number of calories we consume will also increase.
"It's so easy to forget these added calories when drinking and with a large glass of wine (250ml) being almost 200 calories you can easily see how quickly those unwanted pounds pile on," Hannah said.
Alcohol is known to increase appetite, and a study published in October 2022 found that you can still booze and lose weight, as long are you're snacking on high protein foods like nuts.
A study found that drinkers who opted for those foods consumed fewer calories overall compared with those who ate fatty products.
3. Poor sleep
While you might fall asleep straight away if you've had a glass of wine or a cheeky G&T, it's likely the quality of your snooze will be poor, Hannah said.
"The body skips the deep sleep stages, which means you wake not feeling refreshed and like you hardly slept.
"Many find they wake in the night wide awake, unable to get back to sleep, again this is alcohol interfering with our natural sleep cycle," she added.
4. Change in mood
Many people use booze to boost their mood or to wind down from a stressful day.
But Hannah said you might have the opposite effects the day after.
She explained: "Alcohol is a depressant, and you wake up after drinking feeling anxious, worried a lot, and cannot remember things.
"If you notice a change in your mental health in dry January, I would take this as a sign that you need to support your mental health by removing alcohol."
5. Skin issues
Once you start drinking again, it's likely your skin will take a hit, Hannah said.
"It can become more dehydrated, dry, and more prone to blemishes, particularly if your sleep is impacted by drinking too much," she said.
The expert added that one main benefit of dry January is to help us understand our relationship with alcohol.
Many people find they drink less when January is over, due to having successfully worked through the withdrawal stage, she said.
"Many people choose to continue drinking less, or not drinking at all, as not having those symptoms make life so much better.
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"The main point to remember is that quitting alcohol temporarily (or completely) can positively impact your gut health and overall health.
"So, you have nothing to lose by keeping dry January, dry February, March, and April," she said.
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