Posted 2 years ago

Dry January

New Years is the time for resolutions and a resolution that is catching on is Dry January- going alcohol free for the month. With most resolutions, it can take more than a month to see results. However, when you give up alcohol for the month there are some noticeable changes in just those 31 days.

Going alcohol free for the month of January does have some benefits to it, and they include:

  • Weight loss- With a large majority of the population resolving to lose weight and get healthier in the New Year, a dry January can help get you on your way. Alcohol contains more calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates (7 calories in alcohol vs 4 in carbohydrates and proteins). Liquids do not feel us up like solid food does, making liquid calories easier to go down and we consume more before filling up. In addition, people tend to consume more calories from food when drinking alcohol and any excess calories are ultimately stored as fat resulting in weight gain.
  • Improved mental health/feeling happier- Alcohol is a depressant and once those initial effects of alcohol consumption wear off the potential for negative mental side effects kick in. If you give up alcohol for the month, you will likely feel happier and have improved mental health.
  • Improved sleep- Alcohol intake, especially in excess disrupts the circadian rhythm resulting in a negative effect on sleep quality and it can take days to weeks for this to get back to normal.
  • Better digestion/Gut health- Cutting out alcohol may be one way to alleviate digestive distress. Alcohol intake can inhibit normal production of digestive enzymes, which can lead to gas, bloating and indigestion.
  • Decreased inflammation- Some of the side effects of inflammation like joint pain and skin issues may go away over the course of the month when you give up alcohol intake. Alcohol intake causes inflammation throughout the body and excessive intake actually causes persistent and chronic inflammation which can affect health overall.
  • Improved immunity- Alcohol intake, especially excessive intake, change your gut microbiome quickly and for the worse; these changes weaken your body’s defense and increase your risk of getting sick.

While the idea of Dry January began in the UK in 2012 as an initiate to “ditch the hangover, reduce the waistline and save some serious money by giving up alcohol for 31 days”, it has been increasing in popularity every year with more and more Americans joining in each year. You can now find apps and challenges online to register for to be an official participant.  Whether you are joining an online community dedicated to dry January, or just going at it yourself, there are benefits beyond “ditching the hangover and reducing the waistline”.