As we near January 1st, many of us have the intention of cutting back on alcohol for a little while, and apparently, this intention comes with many benefits. If you, much like many other people are resolving for an alcohol reset, or to quit for good, you are not alone and this path has many rewards.
Even if you don’t drink all of the time, if you like to partake in a few drinks here and there on occasion, even you can see the benefits of a dry January. Personally, a dry month here and there has a plethora of benefits for anyone who enjoys drinking. If you don’t believe me, here is what others are saying (including science.)
1. Better sleep.
Contrary to what most believe, even though alcohol initially makes you sleepy, the effects do not last. Once you fall asleep, your body begins producing stimulants to thwart the alcohol, and in turn, your sleep quality is reduced. If you’ve ever woke up at 3:00 am after a night of drinking, then you know exactly what I mean.
2. You feel more hydrated.
And since alcohol is a diuretic, it causes you to pee pretty much all of the fluid out of your body. Because of that, it makes you dehydrated, which can last for days after a night of even light drinking. This is bad for brain health, kidney health, and it makes your skin look worse than it should.
3. Your liver catches a break.
When your liver is metabolizing alcohol, it can’t do much else. This can result in a backup of fat in your liver or fatty liver. Eventually, if you drink enough, especially if you eat a lot of fatty food, you can end up with fatty liver disease or cirrhosis. Giving your body even a 30-day break can prove beneficial against this.
4. Your risk of heart disease is cut.
When alcohol is metabolized by the liver, it produces a chemical enzyme called dehydrogenases. And when we drink in excess, the enzyme can cause free radicals which oxidize bad cholesterol, which is then deposited into our arteries. Cutting back for a while can help prevent that.
5. Effortless weight loss.
And since alcohol is loaded with calories, it adds to our calorie count, which causes weight gain. Even without the calories, alcohol is metabolized by the liver, which prioritizes alcohol over fat. When this happens, the fact that we have eaten becomes stored rather than burned or used for fuel. Cutting back, especially if you drink a lot, but even if you drink once a week, will likely result in unintentional weight loss.
6. Less anxiety and depression.
Despite most people using alcohol to feel good, it’s a depressant. And after the inhibition (which is what makes you feel good) wears off, we are left with the depressing effects that bring our mood down. According to Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, giving up alcohol for even just a month can boost mood.
7. Improved digestion.
Perhaps my favorite reason is the digestive reset, giving up alcohol provides. When we drink often, it causes our body to have its digestive enzymes inhibited, which damages our stomach lining and makes it harder for our body to properly digest food. In turn, we end up gassy, bloated, and feeling horrible.
8. Improved immunity.
Alcohol consumption can damage our gut flora pretty quickly, making it much harder for us to fight disease, sickness, and infection. Cutting back, even for a short period, can help the gut flora reset and, in turn, help our immunity improve.