Why You Should Quit Drinking for One Month
The health benefits are seriously worth it.
If following a "Dry January" isn't on your list of resolutions this year, you may want to reconsider. While skipping booze for the month of January used to be seen as something one did to atone for table dancing at the office holiday party, sobriety is trending among health-conscious partiers-and for good reason: Research shows that going dry for a short period of time can actually have serious health benefits.
New Scientist magazine decided to run a Dry January experiment and asked 14 staffers to participate. After filling out a lifestyle questionnaire and undergoing a medical checkup, ten people quit drinking entirely for 30 days while four kept to their usual beers after work. Afterward, they repeated the questionnaire and blood work.
The results surprised even the scientists themselves. In just 30 days, the sober sippers saw their liver fat-a dangerous precursor to liver damage-drop almost 20 percent. In addition, their blood glucose levels went down 16 percent, thereby significantly lowering their risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. This is the first study to show such an immediate drop from going dry, according to James Ferguson, M.D., a liver specialist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham in England, in an interview with NPR.
It's as good for your outside as it is for your inside. "People always forget the number of calories in alcohol, so if you take a month off, and you usually consume 20 [drinks], you're going to lose weight and fat. It's a massive reduction in calories," Ferguson added. And the participants said it also bettered their lives by improving their sleep quality and ability to concentrate at work. (And this is just the beginning of the health benefits of giving up alcohol.)
Kevin Moore, a liver health expert who supervised the experiment, called the results staggering, saying, "What you have is a pretty average group of people who would not consider themselves heavy drinkers, yet stopping drinking for a month altered liver fat, cholesterol, and blood sugar, and helped them lose weight. If someone had a health product that did all that in one month, they would be raking it in."
This news also supports recent research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to their 2015 report on drinking in the U.S, six Americans die every day from alcohol abuse and it's a leading killer of people in the prime of their lives. Not to mention the fact that alcohol affects women's bodies differently from men's, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Women become intoxicated faster and process alcohol differently. Plus, heavy drinking (that means eight or more drinks per week, according to the CDC) can potentially increase the risk for certain diseases, notably breast cancer and brain disease. And the kicker: Alcohol use disorder and alcohol-related liver disease are increasing in young women. If that's not enough to make you rethink grabbing drinks after work tonight, we don't know what is.
Looking for some help on how to pull off a Dry January? Check out these tips from one nightlife writer and other tips from experts on how to stop drinking alcohol so you can stick to your Dry January resolution. (Also try whipping up these 10 Tasty Mocktails for Dry January.)