Dry January: Should We Really Give Up Alcohol?

Following the dietary sins of the festive holidays, many have adopted the first month of the year as Dry January.

First coined by UK’s Alcohol Concern organization in 2013,  Dry January has become a movement in which drinkers give up alcohol for the entire month of January. While some drinkers use Dry January as an opportunity to reset their drinking habits, abstaining from alcohol can result in a few positive benefits.

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While moderate consumption of alcohol has been linked to health benefits, alcohol consumption for some does more harm than good.

A non-heavy drinker won’t notice much of a difference. However, an individual who consumes more than the recommended amount is likely to notice the following effects.

Dry January health effects

General health boost

The negative effects of alcohol consumption includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol and alcohol poisoning. It can also cause nerve damage, sexual impotence and even an increased risk of cancer, metabolic disorders and liver disease. It is highly likely that cutting back will protect one’s health by cutting the risk of these diseases in half.  In fact, one study found individuals who participated in Dry January reduced both their levels blood pressure and cholesterol.

Researchers from University College London monitored more than 100 men and women in their 40s taking part in the Dry January campaign and found that abstaining from alcohol for a month reduced blood pressure and cholesterol – as well as the risk of developing liver disease and diabetes.

Better sleep

Although alcohol can help a few fall asleep, a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that alcohol can affect sleep quality. Poor sleep quality will leave you constantly fatigued and also increase the risk of heart disease and depression.

A decrease in alcohol consumption boosts sleep quality, and you will be left feeling well-rested and energized the following morning.

Weight loss

One should  be weary of diets that promise dramatic weight transformations. That being said, drinking less can help take a few inches off the waist.

Not only is alcohol high in calories (around 140 to be exact) but drinking it leads to food cravings. In fact, one 2017 study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine revealed that binging on alcohol increase your risk of being overweight by 41%.

Younger skin

While we have yet to discover the fountain of youth, giving up the glass of red wine can help to prevent aging skin.

Acting as a diuretic, alcohol can dehydrate the skin which then increases the risk for wrinkles and fine lines.  It can also cause inflammation which then leads to breakouts, redness and puffiness.

Self-reflection

With the new year comes the opportunity to look black and reflect on your choices and beliefs. Participating in Dry January provides you with the chance to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol.

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You will see the effects it has on your body and better evaluate if you’re healthier and better without that stiff drink.

The month of February

While there is a concern that the end of January will result in heavy drinking throughout the year, one study published in the journal Health Psychology found that those who participated in Dry January were having fewer drinks a day and a week.

For those who still enjoy alcohol, try limiting yourself to a drink or two a week.

Alcohol withdrawal has range of symptoms that includes restlessness, shakiness, anxiety, sweating, irritability as well as loss of appetite. Before staring Dry January, be sure to have tools of motivation and also your doctor.

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