2nd January 2021
Day 1. Month 1. The 1st of January. We’ve finished the last of the red wine, and all the cases of beer are empty. Something about us doesn’t quite feel right. Our movement is sluggish, and our waistlines are slightly above the usual average. Sitting on our sofas in what feels like the end of an epic battle, one word appears to us from the ether………….Detox.
We all know the one. That one colleague who smugly announces to the rest of the team that they’re “Doing. Dry. January”. As if doing anything else in January is simply out of the question. Hiking boots and backpacks on, these self-satisfied individuals are set to embark on a 31-day onslaught of No Alcohol to make the rest of us feel like overweight dumplings.
But as the month of Dry January commences, are there benefits of going teetotal for a set period of time? And if so, what non-booze alternatives can we resort to during what feels like the longest, most depressing, month of the year?
According to research published in the British Medical Journal, there is evidence to suggest that abstaining from alcohol for short periods of time can be beneficial to overall health and help to aid weight loss.
The study revealed that a month off alcohol “saw a weight loss of around 2kg, a decrease in blood pressure of around 5%, and improvement in diabetes risk of almost 30%” (Mehta, Macdonald, Cronberg, et al, 2017). What the study couldn’t conclude however, was whether these changes were sustainable or translated to long-term health improvements.
Better Sleep and More Energy
Alcohol Change UK report up to 70% of participants who partake in Dry January report better sleep, whilst 66% have more energy (Alcohol Change UK, n.d.).
Whilst a boozy night might be associated with quickly knocking out to bed, research has shown falling directly into a deep sleep can actually lead to less restorative and lighter sleep later in the night (BMI Healthcare UK, n.d.).
No alcohol means better overall sleep, resulting in a headache-free morning, a better mindset, and more energy to focus on whatever needs doing during the day.
Improved Mental Health
We can all relate to 2020 being a pretty rubbish year! With sustained lockdowns and constant restrictions placed on who we can see, it’s understandable that a lot of people have suffered from bad mental health.
A 2016 study however suggests that “temporary abstinence from alcohol may convey physiological benefits and enhance well-being” (Visser, Robinson, Bond, 2016).
This is because alcohol is classed as a Central Nervous System depressant meaning it slows down brain functioning and neural activity whilst profoundly altering your mood and behaviour (Addiction Center, n.d.). So whilst you may think having a drink is flooding you with endorphins and carefree energy, what’s actually happening is your body’s dopamine production is being suppressed, making you feel disorientated, sedated, or sad (Abrahao, Salinas, Lovinger, 2017).
Cutting the booze out for a month is bound to uplift spirits and leave you feeling mentally fresher.
If I can’t drink, what can I drink?
The market is saturated with lots of alcohol-free options, but you need to be careful as many of them are loaded with sugar and other hidden additives. Our advice is keep it simple. Stick to drinks which contain fresh and less ingredients, which will make your beverage easier to digest and leave your palette feeling refreshed.
Some go-to options at Peel include our:
G-Tox: Parsley, ACV, Pineapple, Ginger, Cucumber, Celery, Apple
Superpower: Blueberries, Broccoli, Matcha, Lemon, Apple
Fearless: Tumeric, Ginger, Lemon, Cayenne Pepper, Maple, Orange, Apple, Black Pepper
Beauty Fuel: Bitter Gourd, Pineapple, Kale, Lime, Apple
I’m worried I won’t make it!
An entire month can seem overwhelming. And the potential drawbacks of Dry January include overindulging in February and alcohol withdrawal.
Remember to go at your own pace.
This can mean your Dry January can be 31 days, 2 weeks, or every weekend for a month. In fact, your Dry January doesn’t need to be in January at all. The benefits of sticking to January though is lots of friends, family, and colleagues might also be participating. This means you can build camaraderie and into the battleground you go.
Abrahao, K. P., Salinas, A. G. and Lovinger, D. M. (2017). Alcohol and the brain: neuronal molecular targets, synapses, and circuits. Neuron Journal, 96(3). https://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(17)31025-5?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0896627317310255%3Fshowall%3Dtrue
Dry January. (n.d.). Alcohol Change UK. https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/dry-january
Mehta, G., Macdonald, S., Cronberg, A. et al. (2017). Short-term abstinence from alcohol and changes in cardiovascular risk factors, liver function tests and cancer-related growth factors: a prospective observational study. British Medical Journal Open, 8(5). https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/5/e020673.info
The Benefits of Dry January. (n.d.). BMI Healthcare UK. https://www.bmihealthcare.co.uk/health-matters/health-and-wellbeing/the-benefits-of-a-dry-january#gdpr-out
Visser, R. O., Robinson, E. and Bond, R. (2016). Voluntary temporary abstinence from alcohol during “Dry January” and subsequent alcohol use. Health Psychology Journal, 35(3). https://doi.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fhea0000297