Taking on Dry January is a popular way to embark on a new year health kick – but did you know that alcohol is linked to more than 60 health conditions… and the wellbeing benefits of a month without it go much further than you may think?
So with another national lockdown now in place – instead of following the previous trend where alcohol consumption rocketed – it’s maybe time to really review the benefits of staying off the booze.
Research by The Royal Free Hospital, showed that a month off alcohol could achieve the following health benefits:
Lower blood pressure
Reduced risk of developing diabetes
Reduced levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood
But excessive amounts of alcohol can also affect a number of body parts – beyond our liver health, weight gain, cholesterol and blood pressure – including our eyesight, both in the short and long-term.
Dr Andy Hepworth from the UK’s leading corrective optical lens manufacturer Essilor.co.uk, explains some of the more unknown health implications of excess alcohol:
“When you drink, your reactions naturally slow down and reflexes become slower. This affects your pupils too, making it more difficult to distinguish between objects based on lightness and darkness. You will also experience blurry vision, because alcohol can cause a delay between the brain and the eyes.
“While symptoms like the above will usually disappear once you stop drinking, there are some more detrimental consequences to your eye health if you drink excessively in the long-term. In some cases, overconsumption can also be a contributing factor to increased cataract formation.
“Heavy drinking could affect absorption of vitamins, leading to a vitamin deficiency which could in turn affect your eyesight.
“While the above symptoms are usually associated with regular heavy drinking over a long period of time, it’s still important to keep an eye on your alcohol intake and what effect it might be having on your body. Dry January can give you an opportunity to reset your health, including the health of your eyes.
“By reducing your alcohol intake, you may reduce blood pressure which is great for reducing your risk of a heart attack, but can also reduce your risk of hypertensive retinopathy; a condition that damages the blood vessels in your eye. Alcohol is a diuretic which means it can make you dehydrated. In some cases, dehydration can lead to dry eye syndrome.
“Giving up alcohol, if only for a month, can also have a positive impact on your sleep, your waistline and your wallet. It could change your drinking habits, even when the 31 days are over.”