Why participate in Dry January?
December is just around the corner. That means a lot of fun in all kinds of forms. Getting together, presents, lights and of course good food and drinks. Most people let the reins loose in December. After all, it's a party. To compensate for this month of pampering, you could participate in the national alcohol break in January: Dry January. Good idea?
Because your body needs to recover from all that fun in the month of December, it is a good idea to leave the alcohol for thirty days. An alcohol break is good for your body. We list the benefits of not drinking for thirty days:
Before we go into more detail about how your liver develops when you take an alcohol break, we will first show you how your liver works when you drink alcohol on the basis of three steps.
Step 1: The liver breaks down the alcohol into acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a poisonous substance, it affects the organs and is, among other things, responsible for the hangover.
Step 2: The liver breaks down the acetaldehyde into acetic acid.
Step 3: The acetic acid is broken down into water and carbon dioxide. Water and carbon dioxide are excreted through urine and breath.
The claim that the liver rests and recovers with a month of alcohol break is not a fluke, but is supported by research. Researchers from Radboudumc, together with the NTR television program De Kennis van Nu, took the test. Fourteen moderate drinkers and the presenters of The Knowledge of Now did not drink alcohol for a month before the study. To exclude coincidences, nine abstainers participated as a control group. What turned out? An alcohol-free month caused the cholesterol levels to drop, the belly fat to decrease and the blood levels, which indicate an irritation of the liver and the decay of liver cells, also decreased.
You're at a party and you've just finished your first (and second, and third) alcoholic drink. You become a bit rosy, make a few good jokes, are extra cheerful, a bit more relaxed. Or the opposite happens: your mood changes. Instead of 'extra cozy' you become gloomy, anxious, unkind or even angry. Not pleasant for yourself and your environment and last but not least: not good for your brain.
Long term consequences
Drinking too much alcohol for a long time can also have long-term consequences, such as brain damage. A well-known example of this is Korsakov Syndrome. Memory problems and often neglect of appearance occur with this type of brain damage. The latter is due to the so-called loss of decorum, or loss of daily (external) care. The brain damage in Korsakov Syndrome is permanent and progressive (source: www.Gezondheidsplein.nl).
The Korsakov Syndrome is an extreme form of brain damage, but even a (one-off) form of alcohol poisoning can already be harmful to the brain. It is good to realize that a hangover is also a (mild) form of alcohol poisoning. The next day you may experience memory problems, concentration problems, fatigue and confusion. Severe alcohol poisoning (such as can occur during 'binge-drinking or 'drinking in a coma') is very dangerous at the moment: the alcohol can numb your nervous system and can cause your breathing to stop, resulting in death. Even if you survive an alcohol poisoning and are fully conscious again, you can suffer from the aforementioned complaints for a longer period of time.
Did you know that (excessive) drinking of alcohol can affect the muscle cells in the heart? Consistently drinking too much can lead to a severely weakened heart muscle, also known as a cardiomyopathy. This means that your heart muscle is slack, weaker and less able to pump vigorously. The only thing that helps is to stop drinking immediately (source: hartwijzer.nl).
Excessive drinking can lead not only to heart disease, but also to poor eating habits. Drinking alcohol reduces your need for food. This leads to a shortage of important substances in the long term. Vitamin B1 and electrolytes (particles that are important for the stimulus conduction system) are examples of this. Deficiency of these substances can lead to cardiac arrhythmias (source: hartwijzer.nl).
Alcohol increases the risk of high blood pressure. With high blood pressure, your blood vessels are constantly under high pressure. Your blood vessels become narrower and the risk of a heart attack or stroke increases. With high blood pressure, the heart has to work harder and harder to pump blood. Your heart muscle then becomes thicker and stiffer (source: hartstichting.nl).
Alcohol has an unfavorable effect on fats and LDL cholesterol in the blood. High cholesterol can lead to arteriosclerosis. Most cardiovascular diseases are caused by arteriosclerosis. High cholesterol is therefore a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Organs (such as the heart or brain) receive less oxygen as a result (source: hartstichting.nl).