Dry July is a great way of raising money for cancer on top of giving your liver a break...but does it actually work?

More than 8000 people nationwide have signed with more than $500,000 raised so far, with all proceeds going to charity Look Good, Feel Better. The charity provides free, community-based programmes for any person, facing any cancer at any time.

One of the supporters going off the booze is Napier-based businesswoman Alice McKinley, who says she's never taken part in Dry July itself, but has had periods where she's not consumed any alcohol.

"I'm trying to get healthier anyway - I just wanted to have more energy in general and be able to think clearly for work. I do notice that I'm able to function better when I look after myself," she laughed.

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As Kiwis are infamous for their booze culture, McKinley said she was glad to have the excuse of Dry July at social events so people wouldn't question why she wasn't drinking.

Alice McKinley said she feels better going alcohol free and has noticed a difference in her health. Photo / File.
Alice McKinley said she feels better going alcohol free and has noticed a difference in her health. Photo / File.

"I wasn't actually drinking two weeks prior to Dry July and I've actually gone two-three months without drinking as it is - at first it's hard but then you start to not even want alcohol. I think it's because of the sugar, it's that craving and then once you're used to it you just forget about it.

She said her focus on a healthy diet along with cutting out booze has had a positive impact on her wellbeing.

"You just noticed everything, from your energy levels, better sleep, your skin looks better and concentration levels are great as well."

Hawke's Bay clinical nutritionist Hazel Thomas agreed that it was a good idea to give your body a break from the booze.

Referring to a study on short-term abstinence, Thomas said it showed there was an interim resistance, changes in blood pressure and changes in liver function.

"Alcohol gives you an increased risk of developing fatty liver, cancer and metabolic diseases such as diabetes," she said.

"Although alcohol is socially acceptable, we forget that it is actually a drug. Hazel refers to it as an anti-nutrient, since it doesn't have any nutritional value and it can destroy nutrients such as vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium and zinc when consumed in large quantities over time.

"Alcohol also irritates the lining of gut, which will impact nutrient absorption. Alcohol is hard on the liver and is generally irritating to the whole system."

Although she only resorted to a glass of bubbles every now and then, Thomas was also taking part in Dry July.

"I think it's a very good cause. I don't have any problems going off alcohol for a month or longer. To be honest I don't enjoy it that much anymore. It really doesn't do any favours for anybody."

Although it gave people a bit of a boost socially, Thomas recommended limited alcohol intake for a healthy lifestyle.

Napier clinical nutritionist Phillipa Page is also taking part in Dry July and although she drinks very little, she wanted to see if she could take part in the challenge.

"I'm often asking my clients to give up certain things but thought I'd give it a go myself. I do think giving the liver a rest is a good thing," she said.

Page certainly didn't recommend a binge after going alcohol free for a month, or anytime in fact.

"Some people have a rest and then decide that they don't actually need it at all, or others just drink a lot less afterwards.

People often tell me their sleep quality and energy improves when they take a break from alcohol. These tangible benefits can be enough to motivate them."