Going alcohol-free – a quick look at the benefits

Our regular readers will know that we happily support all things in moderation, and that going alcohol-free for occasional periods (such as Dry January) can only be a good thing. Real Kombucha began when founder, David Begg, realised that cutting down on his own drinking highlighted a specific problem – a lack of choice for alcohol-free occasions – and began to realise that the kombucha he was brewing at home might be the answer. The journey we’ve been on since then has been inextricably linked to the Alcohol-Free Movement, and as a consequence we’ve all felt the benefits of going dry from time to time.  

We’re really keen to change the way that people drink, so we’re huge supporters of the work that Alcohol Concern do through their promotion of Dry January. This article, therefore, is written with them in mind. Read on for a quick round up of the known benefits of giving up alcohol, with a few fun pointers from our own personal experience.

The good folks at Mile 27, London, where Real Kombucha – a deliciously fermented alcohol-free drink – is regularly quaffed.

Go alcohol-free to lose weight 

January is the month of renewed commitments to all kinds of self-improvements, quite often fuelled by a desire to look (and therefore feel) better. Losing weight is clearly high on the list of things that people hope to achieve as one of their New Year’s resolutions, so the fact that going alcohol-free couples nicely with this is a great incentive.

The science…

Does it actually work? Of course it does, and for very simple reasons. If you lower your intake of what we know as ’empty calories’ (calories that have little to no nutritional value), it follows that your body has less to deal with. Those wines and pints that you’re drinking, not to mention the cocktail of sugars you’re putting together in your mixers and cocktails, are the very definition of empty calories.

The alcohol calculator over on the Cancer Research UK website is a great resource for working out how many empty calories you’re adding to your daily diet. As an example, a large glass of wine consumed everyday for a month amounts to 1,417 calories – about the same as seven donuts. It all adds up.

In the brewhouse… 

When David started brewing kombucha, it very quickly replaced the majority of his alcohol intake. That, coupled with the sudden influx of energy he found (getting passionate about kombucha can do that to a person), saw him shed the pounds very quickly indeed. Within six months he could be heard happily boasting that he was almost down to a weight he’d not seen since he was in his late teens.

Similarly, Jon lost huge amounts of weight when he quit drinking (photos exist on the internet of him looking fairly skeletal), but since that was over 10 years ago, he’s since found other ways to pile the pounds back on. If anyone can introduce him to the kombucha equivalent of cake, he’d be very pleased indeed.

Adrian, on the other hand, is a machine. He regularly bench-presses the rest of the team, stacked high on a palette. He’s also still only 30. Jon and David promise him that his time (and gut) will come eventually.

See also… 

The writer, mid-experiment (read below) 12 years ago, clearly lacking in energy. Picture by Tristan Scholze.

Go alcohol-free to boost your energy

Those that take part in events such as Dry January or Go Sober for October regularly report a pleasing increase in energy, and just as swiftly report the exact opposite when they go back to their old habits. It’s no secret, therefore, that becoming alcohol-free has a positive effect on our energy levels, and as we’ve already noted, we’ve seen this for ourselves.

The science… 

The science backing this up is so obvious that it pretty much amounts to common sense. Anyone who has ever consumed a skinful will know that it can play havoc with your sleep patterns (the endless trips to the toilet; the hours lying awake with a mouth like sawdust; the slow and unavoidable throbbing as that hangover headache begins to kick in), but it’s perhaps not so widely known that even a little can have a significant effect. Disturbed sleep naturally leads to decreased energy levels, which is why any period of alcohol-free living can make you feel far more bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

A study published by the University of Sussex in 2015 found that 62% of adults who went a month without alcohol reported better sleep. And you can bet that their partners did, too, as studies have also shown that we snore a lot more when we’ve been drinking, as the alcohol relaxes your throat muscles, resulting in folds of sloppy, vibrating skin. Sexy!

In the brewhouse… 

We’ve already seen that David’s kombucha-brewing enthusiasm, combined with a period of relative abstinence, resulted in a boost of untold proportions, but it’s Jon who put life and limb on the line to test the truth of this theory.

In 2006, while working as the editor of a magazine called Japanzine, Jon over-indulged every night of a full week in order to test seven different Japanese hangover cures. The result? Let’s just say that the results quickly became unscientific. The one definite outcome from this ‘experiment’ was that Jon lost the required energy to live a normal life very quickly indeed. By the third day, he was what scientists commonly refer to as ‘a mess’, and after six days an intervention was staged and an extended period of bedrest prescribed.

Once again, Adrian cancels himself out of this brewhouse study by dint of the fact that he regularly cycles from London into the Surrey Hills as if he’s just peddling to the shops, and so is probably not normal to begin with.

See also…

The humble scoby: a natural face pack?

Go alcohol-free to improve your complexion… 

The desire to improve the health of your skin largely falls into the same camp as that of weight loss: it’s the time of year when people want that sense of renewal, and what better way to exude that than through a blotch-free appearance?

The science… 

The reason that you may look like a deflated and discarded football after a period of drinking has to do with dehydration. Alcohol dehydrates your body, and it is thought that this results in a less than peachy complexion. You can counteract this by consuming more water, or simply by consuming something other than repeated glasses of prosecco throughout the evening. May we suggest a bottle of Royal Flush instead?

In the brewhouse… 

Let’s look at Adrian for this one, shall we? Youthful, healthy-looking; an occasional drinker, yes, but given to hydrating himself as if it’s going out of fashion. A complexion like Adrian’s is hard-won, but it’s clearly worth it. He’s also a regular kombucha drinker, and having a healthy microbiome can do wonders for your outward appearance.

While nobody (that we know of) has ever worn a scoby in the brewhouse, at least one of our wives has been caught experimenting with a kombucha pellicle as a face pack. Whether it directly improved the quality of her skin, we can’t really say, but she certainly smelt interesting for some time afterwards.

See also… 

Go alcohol-free to battle brewers droop

On one of the many occasions that Shakespeare wrote about alcohol, he noted that it, “provokes the desire but takes away the performance”. Good old Shakespeare – always there with what appears to be a universal truth when you need him. But is the whole alcohol-results-in-brewers-droop thing a reality, or is it merely a (frustrated) old wives’ tale?

The science… 

Alcohol, abused over time, does indeed bring about that unfortunate condition known as erectile dysfunction. Eventually, alcohol takes its toll by effecting the nervous system, and subsequently disrupts the impulses between the brain and the genitals. It is the nervous system that triggers the muscles and blood vessels down below, so when those parts aren’t talking to each other, let’s just say you feel the frigidity.

It has also been observed that heavy alcohol abuse, over time, can cause a reduction in the levels of testosterone, resulting in a lack of sex drive and sexual function, all of which suggests that, once you’ve put the bottle down, there are better, arguably more fun activities to pursue during the month of Dry January. You might even find you improve your skillset. Boom!

In the brewhouse… 

You’ve read enough. Away with you!

If you’re looking for a great Dry January alternative to alcohol – something alcohol-free and delicious to boot – then why not buy kombucha online from Borough Wines or Lights Drinks UK? Good luck, and let us know how you get on. 

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