It’s been reported that 35% of legal-aged adults in the U.S. skipped alcohol for the entire month of January 2022. Staying sober for a certain period of time can help refresh and reinvigorate your body, say experts. Taking part in “Dry January,” especially after a booze-filled holiday season, can also give your wallet a rest and keep hangovers at bay, says Eat This, Not That!.
Here are more health benefits of taking part in Dry January:
• Gives your liver a break. Abstaining from alcohol lets your liver concentrate on functional detoxifying instead of processing alcohol. Paulina Lee, a registered dietitian, explains that alcohol is a toxin, and the liver abandons other functions to clear alcohol. “For women especially, the liver will divert its attention to detoxify alcohol instead of estrogen, which may lead to estrogen dominance and a slew of other hormonal problems,” she says.
• Reduces gut inflammation. Lee says that large amounts of alcohol damage the gastrointestinal tract by promoting gut inflammation. “Alcohol has been shown to disrupt gut balance, causing gut dysbiosis, bacterial overgrowth, and increased intestinal permeability, which may lead to gut troubles like gas, bloating, and more inflammation,” she says.
• Helps heal chronic illness. According to Eat this, Not That!, people who have chronic illnesses, such as IBS or liver disease may enjoy how they feel after taking a month-long hiatus from drinking booze and want continue the dry spell. Lee points out that there are many non-alcoholic drinks and mocktails around so you can still be sociable without threatening your health.
• Boosts immune system. Drinking too much alcohol not only increases your risk for liver damage but also weakens your immune system, leaving your body ripe for infections. This can increase the chances of long-term illness, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Even a bout of binge drinking leaves you at higher risk of infection for about 24 hours. "It is well documented that drinking more than three drinks in one day on most days of the week or drinking more than five drinks on any day is damaging to the immune system," says Amitava Dasgupta, a professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at McGovern Medical School, UTHealth in Houston. "Alcohol damages the ability of your immune system to fight viral infections.”
Lee says, “If you do decide to drink, try to stick to the daily recommendation of one to two drinks per day, alternate alcohol with water, and try to balance out alcohol intake while focusing on sleep, nutrition, and increasing anti-inflammatory foods or habits.”
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