October is the best time to detox. Picture: Unsplash
October is the best time to detox. Picture: Unsplash

Why Ocsober is the best time to detox

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Oct 5, 2021

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It's always a good idea to give your body some time to reset – and this month is the perfect time to do a detox.

With alcohol restrictions changing regularly this year, there would have been at least a small period of time that drinkers would have taken a pause from regular alcohol intake.

With October being known as Ocsober – it might be a good idea to once again evaluate your alcohol intake.

The Ocsober campaign makes a plea to South Africans to quit drinking for a month as part of a campaign to raise awareness about alcohol abuse.

The idea behind the OcSober campaign is simple – stay sober in October.

“The huge increase in the ‘no and low’ drinks sector sends a clear message that people are becoming more health conscious and aware of what they are putting into their bodies. This growing trend is especially evident in the current pandemic as more and more people are cutting down on drinking or giving it up completely,” says Ali Bestel, Marketing Manager at Loxtonia Cider.

Alcohol is an identified causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions, including many forms of cancer together with damage to the heart, brain, nervous system, and immune system. Also having long-term social implications, leading to divorce and domestic abuse and financial problems, for example.

According to the Liquor Act, an alcoholic beverage is defined as a product containing greater than 1% of alcohol by volume. Most so-called non-alcoholic products on the market sing from this song sheet, even though many contain between 0.05% and 0.5% alcohol.

Producers of booze-free beverages, from de-alcoholised beer and wine to distilled non-alcoholic gin, have enjoyed a surge in demand across South Africa. More and more brands are joining the fray and launching products that imitate the taste of gin, rum or whisky.

Pick n Pay says they’ve noticed a growing interest in non-alcoholic beverages from health-conscious consumers.

“This trend has allowed room for creativity and experimentation in this category, and it is no surprise that many customers have turned to this varied range during lockdown,” a spokesperson told Business Insider South Africa.

Non-alcoholic drinks are nothing new: a “mindful drinking” trend has been brewing amongst “sober curious”, who also participated in Dry January, young South Africans who want to live clear-eyed and hangover free.

A study by Gautam Mehta of University College London, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) investigated the health gains from a month without alcohol.

The lead author, Mehta observed moderate to heavy drinkers, all consuming more than the recommended daily allowance.

“The average intake was around 28 units (a week),” says Mehta, “but these were professional working people without any history of alcohol-related health problems.”

After their month of sobriety, their insulin resistance – a marker for diabetes – improved by about 25%.

Blood pressure went down by “what you’d tend to expect if you take drugs to treat high blood pressure”, he says.

The subjects also lost a little weight, just under 2kg on average.

Blood tests for liver function and inflammation all showed small but significant improvements at the end of the month, but this doesn't imply that a damaged liver will fully recover in this time. “I don’t think we can say there's a big improvement in the degree of liver disease,” Mehta says.

Also, experts agree that a month of being sober helps many people resist alcohol.

Another study in 2015 from Sussex University enlisted more than 800 participants in Dry January, and found that afterwards; their ability to confidently say no to alcoholic drinks improved. Their consumption of alcohol went down, whether they had succeeded in quitting for the entire month or not.

Janet Gourand, Founder of World Without Wine says that people are examining their relationship with alcohol, particularly the younger generation. “We now have Millennial influencers and bloggers on Instagram who are championing alcohol-free living – conveying the message that it's hip not to drink – and of course being drunk is not a good look for selfies!”

For some, Ocsober is a breeze. However, if your social life is always buzzing with live music and friends who do not know how to have fun without alcohol, then this challenge will be a little harder than anticipated.

So, if you are looking to stay committed in Ocsober, Gourand gives tips on how you can avoid being labelled the all-time ‘Party Pooper’ because you don’t drink alcohol.

Take your Alcohol-Free Drinks: Whether you are a bubbly, red wine, beer or G & T lover, there are always Alcohol-free versions available which will give you all the taste without the hangover!

Fake it till you make it: Decant your alcohol-free drink into a glass and make sure that it’s always in your hand. People are less likely to bother you if you appear to be drinking. Then, slap a smile on your face and commit to an hour of making a real effort. Act like you're expecting to have a great time - and you probably will!

Party like a Celebrity: Pick and choose what event you attend – arrive late and leave early.

Have your Reasons: If anyone spots your alcohol-free drink and asks why you're not drinking just say "I'm on a health kick" or, better yet, tell your friends that you have become "Sober Curious". Whatever you decide to say, stick to your guns. It will be hard the first time, but the more you do it, the more your friends and family will back off.

Alcohol is not a Magic Potion: Remind yourself that it's your friends, the music and the vibe that create the fun - not the contents of your glass. Use the opportunity to make new friends, work the room, dance until your feet hurt or tell a few jokes. You will be surprised at how much fun you can have, plus if your jokes are really bad – everyone will be too drunk to care!

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