Natalie J Robb health: Emmerdale star’s drastic health change that made filming easier

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After starting out her acting career at the tender age of nine, Robb was cast in various Scottish soap operas and BBC dramas including EastEnders and Waterloo Road. Following on from her success, Robb was then cast in Emmerdale. After being in the soap for a decade, which involved her character Moira involved with affairs, drug addiction, murder and alcoholism, off-screen Robb had decided to ditch alcohol altogether in order to prioritise her health. In an interview with The Sunday Post back in 2020, Robb called drinking a “pressure in society,” and that after giving it up she felt “so good”.

“I challenged myself to Dry January last year as a health kick and it felt so good I just kept going with it,” Robb explained.

“The first few months were the hardest, socially, but after that, I was surprised by how easy it was.

“There’s a pressure in society to drink. I’m not saying that I won’t ever have a drink again but I won’t have the same relationship with it.

“I used to drink every weekend but when you think about how long it takes your liver and kidneys to process alcohol, all you’re doing is topping up. That scared me.”

Commenting on the health benefits she has felt after giving up booze, Robb added: “Now I’ve got so much more energy and I’m more productive. And I don’t miss the two-day hangovers.

“It’s weird playing a drunk again. They always say the best way to play drunk is to try to act sober!

“Because Moira is an upset and nasty drunk, those scenes have been draining.

“She’s using drink as a crutch and goes on a real downward spiral.

We were doing around 12 scenes every day and it wasn’t light dialogue. These were tough scenes, so the extra energy I had from not drinking helped.”

Alcohol Change estimates that in England there are 602,391 dependent drinkers, only 18 percent of which are receiving any sort of treatment.

Alcohol is a causal factor of more than 60 serious medical conditions and in the period of 2019/20 there were 976,425 admissions related to alcohol consumption.

Drinking too much both on a single occasion or over time can take a serious toll on your health, as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explains. In fact, it can cause harm in the brain, heart, liver, pancreas and can cause various types of cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute: “There is a strong scientific consensus that alcohol drinking can cause several types of cancer.

“The evidence indicates that the more alcohol a person drinks–particularly the more alcohol a person drinks regularly over time–the higher his or her risk of developing an alcohol-associated cancer.

“Even those who have no more than one drink per day and people who binge drink (those who consume four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men in one sitting) have a modestly increased risk of some cancers.”

Drinking too much can also weaken the immune system in general, making an individual more vulnerable to viruses and infections such as pneumonia.

The NHS adds that cutting back on how much alcohol you drink can be a really effective way to improve health and boost your energy. It’s recommended to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across three days or more. That’s around six medium (175ml) glasses of wine, or six pints of four percent beer.

The short-term benefits of drinking less include the following:

  • Feeling better in the mornings
  • Being less tired and more energetic
  • Better-looking skin
  • Saving some money.

And the longer-term benefits of drinking less include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower risk of stroke, hypertension, cancer and liver disease
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Better mood, memory and quality of sleep
  • Help with weight management.

For those who stop or cut back from drinking and experience physical withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, sweating and anxiety, medical advice should be sought, as stopping drinking too quickly could become dangerous. For support call Drinkline on 0300 123 1110 for free.

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