Winter wellness: Top 5 health benefits of Dry January
January means different things to different people.
Each time it rolls around, we find ourselves thinking about what we can do better in the year ahead to improve our physical and emotional well being. It’s a fresh start, the best time to quit a habit and to turn over a new leaf.
The bars are empty and the group chat with the ladies is filled with talk of Dry January after leaving behind a hectic party season made up of office parties and family get togethers, it only makes sense to detox our bodies after all we’ve put it through.
But is limiting your alcohol intake something that you should consider for more than just the month of January and does it really make a difference when it comes to our health?
Here are our top 5 health benefits of giving up alcohol – and why you should get behind the Dry January initiative:
1. Avoid drinking your calories
Many of us just don’t realise just how many ’empty calories’ are in alcohol. It’s an easy mistake to make but naturally these ’empty calories’ have no nutritional benefit and are consumed much more easily than its calorific equivalent in food. To put this into perspective, the average bottle of wine contains a massive 700 calories! So, it almost goes without saying that a detox can really help you to lose weight if you drink regularly.
Here’s what gastric band experts Sue and Nic Co-Founders of online slimming club BandBoozled had to say:
“If you are trying to lose weight without much success then it could your alcohol intake that is to blame. Alcohol is high in calories and it’s easy to overindulge without really noticing. When you compare the calories in alcohol to some nutrients you can see how much higher it is. There is:
– 7 calories per gram of alcohol
– 4 calories per gram of protein
– 3.75 calories per gram of carbohydrate
Everyone thinks carbohydrates are high in calories but as you can see alcohol is nearly double that amount! So, a dry January could mean you are drastically reducing your overall calorie intake helping you to lose weight.”
2. Benefits your mental wellbeing
According to Drink Aware, there are proven links between alcohol and depression as ‘regular drinking lowers your levels of serotonin- the brain chemical that helps to regulate your moods.’
This study also shows that if you feel that you depressive symptoms are linked to alcohol then ‘people in this position often find that cutting out alcohol entirely for just 4 weeks will produce a clear difference in how they feel. After a few alcohol-free weeks, many people find they feel brighter. You may find it less difficult to get up and face the day, and friends and family may find you easier to get along with.’
Even if you don’t feel like you suffer specifically from depression as a result of drinking, alcohol is known to reduce our mood even if we feel great after the first drink or two. Simply by habit, many of us have been known to reach for that glass of prosecco to feel confident in social situations – doing a Dry January can teach us that we don’t always need alcohol to feel confident and comfortable in ourselves.
Not to mention, spending a Sunday morning hungover in a slump on the sofa reaching for sugary drinks and pizza to lift our poorly heads can be hugely demotivating especially if you are on a weight loss journey.
3. Improves your blood pressure
Having high blood pressure puts you at risk of heart attacks and strokes especially if it goes unnoticed. Detoxing your body of alcohol even just for the month of Dry January can lower your blood pressure and improve your general health. According to studies conducted by Drink Aware, ‘alcohol can have a serious long-term effect on blood pressure and research has shown that heavy drinking can lead to increased risk of hypertension for both men and women.’
4. Reduces your risk of alcohol related diseases
It’s nothing new if we tell you that the correlation between diseases of the liver and excessive drinking – but did you know that certain types of cancers too are linked to the over consumption of alcohol too? Putting your feet up at the end of a hard day with your evening glass of red could be doing you more harm than you think so it’s important to take the time to consider just how many units of alcohol you are regularly consuming.
5. Sleep better and feel more awake
After all isn’t the new year about feeling revitalised, refreshed and ready to take on the challenge of the year ahead? On a side note, limiting the amount of alcohol you consume means that the dreaded hangover become a thing of the past and that’s surely no bad thing!
Sue and Nic from BandBoozled tell us, “A complete rest from alcohol over January is a great way to kickstart the New Year – it’s better for your health, your waistline and even your purse strings. After the Xmas festivities your liver can have a well-earned rest whilst you focus on achieving a healthier lifestyle!“
Remember that whilst cutting down on alcohol has several benefits- taking part in a Dry January can only have any real long-term benefits to your health if you stick to it! We’re not saying that you must ban yourself from alcohol completely but it’s important to reassess your drinking habits from time to time. An alcohol-free detox enables you to think about your relationship with alcohol, can identify any dependencies and changes to your health and mental wellbeing.
Say hello to a healthier, happier you in 2019
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