Originating in the U.K., “Dry January” is emerging as a hot trend in the United States. Just how might your body benefit from 30 days of alcohol-free living? Read on.
From wine to craft beer to trendy cocktail menus in restaurants and bars (which is where we spend the majority of our alcohol-related dollars now), alcohol consumption is a social norm for most American adults. According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 56.4% of Americans over the age of 18 reported that they drank alcohol within the past month, and 70.7% reported that they drank within the past year.
If you’re a light drinker, you might not even think much about how this habit affects your daily health. After all, studies suggest that certain forms of measured alcohol consumption (i.e. drinking just one glass of red wine with dinner) might actually come with benefits. But there are dozens more advantages to cutting alcohol completely, even just for 30 days—which is why #DryJanuary has become a popular social trend in the United States, particularly among millennials.
Originating as a health campaign in the United Kingdom—where over 17,000 Britons stopped drinking for a month—#DryJanuary has now gained steam across social media sites in the United States, where thousands of people are chronicling their efforts to improve their health, starting with an alcohol-free January.
Just how effective is a 30-day sabbatical from spirits? According to New Science magazine, giving up alcohol for a single month can have a significant impact on your overall disease risk, including:
- A 15-20% reduction in liver fat, which is a precursor to liver disease
- A 16% decrease in blood glucose levels, which is a key factor in diabetes risk
Here are some other ways a #DryJanuary can benefit your overall health and wellness:
- More energy. Besides being a depressant, alcohol dehydrates the body, resulting in sapped energy as soon as the buzz wears off. Stay away, and you might just rediscover some lost pep in your step.
- Reduction in tolerance. The more often you drink, the more your body grows to tolerate alcohol, meaning you have to drink more to feel the effects. By staying away for a month or more, you allow your body to readjust back to normal.
- Weight loss. Studies show that on average, people consume 20% more calories during a meal if they had a drink before eating … and that’s not even counting the calories contributed by the alcohol.
- Skin quality. Another consequence of alcohol dehydration is drier skin and complexion problems (e.g. acne, bloating). This can especially become a problem if your drinks tend to be paired with sugar (as in mixed drinks) or salt (as in beer and margaritas).
- Sleep quality. While you might fall asleep faster if you indulge in a nightcap, alcohol consumption actually decreases REM sleep, making you more prone to waking up in the middle of the night.
Ready to jump onboard the #DryJanuary train? It’s OK if you’re a little bit late to the party … just commit to 30 days alcohol-free!