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How A Month Off Booze Changes Your Body (And Bank Balance)

Those who did Dry July, you have permission to be smug.

01/08/2016 7:44 AM AEST | Updated 04/08/2016 8:11 AM AEST
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Unless you have replaced alcohol with cronuts, you may find you've lost some weight.

Congratulations! You've done it. It's officially August and, if you're one of the 16,739 people who gave up alcohol for a month as part of Dry July's annual fundraising campaign, it's time to breathe a sigh of relief, kick back and celebrate with a Monday mimosa. (Maybe wait until after lunch, though, people.)

With a cracking $3,432,801 raised to assist cancer patients, their families and carers, Dry July 2016 was undoubtedly a huge success: but how have you personally benefited after a month off the booze?

Increased fat burning capability

"One of the biggest immediate benefits we get [from taking a month off alcohol] is much improved blood glucose control," Steph Lowe, 'The Natural Nutritionist' and 28 by Sam Wood spokesperson told The Huffington Post Australia.

"The biggest reason for this is, when we drink alcohol, not only do we get the calories and sugar, but it also makes our body want to store fat. Alcohol promotes fat storage."

Lowe states one of the main reasons this happens is due to the high sugar content in many alcoholic beverages or the mixers that typically go with them.

"The big one is the sugar that is often accompanied with alcohol -- so we're talking your champagne, your cocktails with mixers, and so on," Lowe said. "Because sugar is such a small malleable molecule, our body will choose to burn glucose [over fat] every time.

"It's more energy-demanding to break down complex fat, and our body tends to naturally do what's easiest. As such, alcohol can become a fuel source, and the body doesn't need to access those fat reserves. It will choose to burn the alcohol calories instead."

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A healthier liver

"Another really great benefit is liver health," Lowe said. "Often, people choose to forget alcohol is a toxin, in any amount, though we tend to recommend a balanced approach.

"Liver function improves with that four weeks off alcohol. That is really important for our long term health, as people who over-consume alcohol can end up with fatty liver disease."

In fact, according to a 2015 experiment performed by Medical Daily in which some staff members went without alcohol for a month, "liver fat fell on average by 15 percent, and almost 20 percent in some individuals". Those participating in the experiment all described their drinking habits as "normal".

"When you think about the liver's function -- it's our chief detox organ," Lowe continued.

"Poor liver function can also lead to hormonal imbalances, poor skin and also, in the longer term, a diabetes risk."

Better sleep

"Alcohol is very challenging to digest and assimilate," Lowe told HuffPost Australia. "When we consume it, our body has a lot of work to do while we are trying to sleep. It interferes with how we are sleeping because our body is working overtime."

As for those who feel alcohol helps them to sleep better, science says it's quite simply not the case. Yes, while alcohol can assist in helping you nod off faster, the actual quality of sleep you get is significantly better when you haven't consumed any.

As such, Lowe says a month off the sauce can result in "significant improvement in sleep" and as a result, can mean "better concentration, productivity... really, good sleep affects all avenues of life."

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Enjoy your mornings refreshed and hangover-free.

Money money money

"I would probably say [doing Dry July] would result in you saving quite a significant amount of money," Martin Matthews, partner at PKF Australia told The Huffington Post Australia.

"I couldn't give you an exact dollar amount but it's obvious in a sense, because you're waking up on the weekend with a lighter wallet. And by lighter I mean literally lighter -- it's full of notes rather than gold coins and it doesn't weigh a tonne.

"I'm sure it would be hundreds of dollars. I think it would be a significant amount."

For those wanting a more concrete estimate, you can find out how much money your drinking costs you per week, month or year using this alcohol spending calculator.

Depending on how much money you spend shouting your mates on any given night out, you might find yourself starting August like:

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the '28 by Sam Wood' program as '28:28'. The correct name of the program is 28 by Sam Wood.

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