If there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that the nation’s relationship with alcohol is massively changing.
A recent report revealed that this year alone, over a third of Brits (35%) have chosen to cut down on their alcohol consumption.
We all know cutting out alcohol completely has several health benefits, from lower blood pressure to a healthier liver.
However, not everyone wants to be teetotal, which is why some people are opting for the ‘half-and-half’ method, where you alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
What is the half-and-half method?
It’s all about being consciously aware of how much booze you’re consuming.
With the half-and-half method, you intersperse alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic alternatives or water at social events.
“Not only does this stop you from consuming too much alcohol all at once, but allows you to minimise dehydration,” says Martin Preston, founder and chief executive at private rehab clinic Delamere.
He explains that “alcohol makes the body extremely dehydrated, lowering your immune system and energy levels the next day”.
But drinking glasses of water in between drinks helps you stay hydrated and will stop you from sipping your alcoholic drink too quickly.
“Ultimately, the ‘half-and-half’ trend is about having self-control, a moderation mindset, and not allowing yourself to be influenced by those around you to drink more than you feel comfortable with,” Preston says.
But the expert warns that this method should only be followed by people who want to cut back on alcohol, not those who are dependent on alcohol.
“Trying to detox using trends like this can be extremely dangerous to those that suffer problems surrounding alcohol consumption. Instead, they would need professional intervention in order to abstain from alcohol safely,” Preston says.
What are the benefits of the ‘half-and-half’ method?
1. Sleep patterns improve
Alcohol is often used as a sleeping aid to help you drift off. Although it can help you relax, drinking in excess can affect the quality and pattern of your sleep due to headaches, dehydration and the increased need to urinate.
When you give up or reduce your alcohol intake, you will often find that your quality of sleep will be better, without frequent interruptions.
2. Blood pressure returns to healthier levels
Drinking in excess for a prolonged period of time can raise your blood pressure to unhealthy levels, which could lead to more complicated health problems down the line.
Cutting down or abstaining from alcohol for good will help lower your blood pressure to a much healthier level. It could even help reduce the risk of other health issues that are associated with high blood pressure and alcohol consumption, such as stroke, heart disease and chronic kidney disease.
3. Reduced levels of anxiety and depression
Alcohol is a sneaky depressant. While you may feel relaxed or excited during the time of consumption, it can have a significant impact on mental health.
Drinking alcohol, particularly heavy consumption, interferes with chemicals in the brain that maintain good mental health, meaning that after drinking, you may experience feelings of depression and anxiety, sometimes referred to as “beer fear” or “hang-xiety”.
4. You may lose weight
Believe it or not, alcohol contains a number of calories. Drinks such as beer and wine are particularly calorific, meaning that you are more likely to gain weight by drinking them too regularly.
Limiting the amount of alcohol you consume might help you lose weight and reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure.
5. Healthier-looking skin
Alcohol causes your body to become dehydrated more quickly, which can lead to dry and scaly skin when drunk in excess. Not only that, but the consumption of sugary drinks like cocktails can also lead to outbreaks, due to increased hormone levels.
Those who embark on their sober curious journey might notice spots or dry skin patches start to clear up when they don’t drink alcohol.
6. You’ll generally feel better
Drinking in excess can make you feel groggy, lethargic and generally unwell the next day because it interferes with the day-to-day functioning of the body.
You’ll probably find that you have more energy during the periods that you choose not to drink, or to drink less.