Does ‘Dry January’ actually improve your health?

For trendy health-conscious people, the start of a new year sometimes means the start of dry January.

The month-long public health campaign urges people to abstain from alcohol as a way to improve well-being. Are there actual health benefits you can get by dry January? For the most part, experts say yes, but it is not an absolute must for everyone to observe.

“Ultimately, sober months like dry January can be harmless to the majority of the population who do not have a serious alcohol abuse disorder,” said Dr. Deni Carise, chief science officer at the Recovery Centers of America. Diagnoses are characterized as mild, moderate or severe. “Those who drink a lot can face very serious health risks when they stop abruptly, and they should be careful.”

If you are considering participating in Dry January this year, here are health considerations you should know before dropping alcohol for 31 days.

Impact of alcohol on physical health

In addition to saving money from all alcoholic beverages, you will not buy for the month of January, the biggest health benefit you will receive is avoiding unnecessary calories. According to the USDA’s FoodData Central database, a can of beer is about 154 calories, while a 5-ounce serving of wine is about 123 calories. Varying spirits and spirits like sake, whiskey, vodka, rum and gin tend to be under 100 calories, but it is on a per-ounce basis that can increase rapidly when making a cocktail.

pour wine
“Those who drink a lot can face very serious health risks when they stop abruptly and they should be careful.” said Dr. Deni Carise.

Calorie intake estimates published by the FDA indicate that men and women over the age of 21 can potentially consume 2,400 to 3,000 calories and 2,000 to 2,400 calories a day, respectively, depending on how active their lifestyle is.

Avoiding alcohol can potentially improve your digestive system. Alcohol is considered a diuretic, which means it increases urination, which can have a dehydrating effect if you do not drink enough water. In addition, a study by The American Journal of Gastroenterology found that “heavy alcohol intake” appears to “exacerbate gastrointestinal symptoms in adults with irritable bowel syndrome”, which includes symptoms such as abdominal and abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, nausea , heartburn and indigestion.

Drinking alcohol before bedtime has also been shown to disrupt REM sleep and have insomnia-like effects, according to the Sleep Foundation. Refraining from alcoholic beverages at night and in general could potentially provide a deeper, more consistent sleep, which in turn can provide more energy during the day.

Woman sleeping
Refraining from alcoholic beverages at night can provide consistent sleep.

The impact of alcohol on mental health

Abstaining from alcohol can have positive effects on your mental health, according to Dr. Daryl Appleton, a psychotherapist practicing in NYC and New England.

“Many of my clients engage in a dry-January as a mental and emotional detox and ritual of self-control,” Appleton said. “Depending on who the person is, what their history contains and their intentions around drinking the rest of the year dictate its impact on one’s overall health.”

She continued: “On the plus side, letting your body and brain take a break from alcohol can potentially reduce cortisol and the stress it puts on the system, allowing for rest and repair. Since alcohol is a depressant, it can Taking a break also reveals whether alcohol masks emotional symptoms like a bandaid or contributes to them by making anger, sadness and isolation feel worse. “

Appleton added that sober months like Dry January help people evaluate their relationship with alcohol.

“On the not-so-healthy side, if someone has an alcohol abuse disorder, stopping the common cold, of course, can lead to severe withdrawal, seizures and even death,” Appleton warned. “It is imperative to understand its relationship to alcohol before deciding to discontinue it completely and abruptly.”


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