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Here's why a dry January can do you the world of good

If you're contemplating a dry January, Neuropsychologist, Dr Rachel Taylor, shares why abstaining can have major benefits for both your brain and body

For those embarking on a month without booze, Dr Rachel Taylor offers this advice...

When you stop drinking alcohol it is extremely beneficial to the brain and body. There are not many scientific studies on the month abstinence model and its long-term effects - however, one thing is really obvious is that even moderate drinkers are compromising their liver.

You may be thinking but "red wine is good for you as well as it contains flavonoids," however, if you are drinking a lot of red wine then the negative effects are going to far out way any benefits of the flavonoids. Flavonoids can be found in lots of different foods such as blackberries and blueberries (don’t worry if you can only get frozen ones as they will have been frozen when they were at their best) kale, red cabbage, over 85% dark chocolate, black, green, white and oolong tea, all citrus fruits, soybeans (go organic) and parsley.

The benefits of giving up at least for a month far outweigh the benefits of a few glasses of red wine here and there. They include sleep quality and quantity improvements, a marked reduction in aggression and anger, thus improving social relationships. The brain's prefrontal cortex functions better, leading to an improvement in decision-making, thought processing, and memory recall/retention. Dopamine levels return to a normal baseline, which supports motivation to get things done. Serotonin production increases which leads to more balance in all body and brain systems.

While just one month off won't reverse years of heavy drinking, alcohol is a poison, so it's a good start to notice positive changes and give you time to analyse your alcohol consumption - are you just a social drinker, is drinking a habit, or a coping strategy? Doing this should help you consume less post your dry-January.

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