Are you one of the growing numbers of people who committed to having a dry January? For the uninitiated this means giving up alcohol for the month. It is an idea that was developed by Alcohol Concern and it is growing in popularity.
People can publically sign up for the challenge to raise money for the charity and give their bodies a rest after the excesses of the Festive season.
Alternatively, people just make a pledge to themselves and their family and friends to quit the booze for 31 days.
Critics are sceptical of the benefits
Some people have voiced their concerns about the initiative.
Critics say that giving up alcohol for a month cannot possibly make a difference if you drink to excess for the rest of the year.
Some experts point out that it is better for our health to drink in moderation than to swing between drinking and not drinking.
Both of these statements are accurate, but the idea of dry January is not to breed a new generation of tee-totallers, but to get you thinking about how much alcohol you are drinking, and to show that you can choose to go without if you wish to.
Are you aware of your general alcohol consumption?
For many of us, it is easy to drink more than the recommended maximum units of alcohol without really noticing we are doing so.
To stay within these limits experts advise that men and women who drink regularly should drink no more than 14 units a week. That is equivalent to six pints of beer or seven glasses of wine. Ideally, people should drink moderately over three or more days and some days should be alcohol-free.
But if you add up the glass or two of wine in the evening, the occasional drink with friends for a birthday, the bottle of wine over dinner on the weekends and so on, our alcohol consumption quickly adds up.
Without meaning to, we can find we’re drinking double the recommended maximum… or sometimes even more than that.
And, while we can roll our eyes and say it doesn’t really matter, here are some of the conditions that drinking too much alcohol are associated with:
- Cancers of the mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast Increased risk of liver disease
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Increased risk of stroke
- Weight gain
Health benefits of a Dry January
If you decide to embark on a dry January (and it’s never too late to start!), here are some benefits that you might experience almost immediately:
- Lower blood glucose levels (high blood glucose can lead to diabetes)
- Improved digestion
- Increased immunity
- Better sleep
- Better looking skin
- Lower cholesterol levels (reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke)
- Higher energy levels
- Better mood
- A tendency to make healthier food and lifestyle choices
- Weight loss
- More money in your wallet!
And, according to a 2016 study in Health Psychology magazine, after a month of not drinking, people who start drinking again in February are more likely to drink less, having fewer drinks per day and getting drunk less often.
All of which seems to add up to a compelling argument for a dry January.