Are any of y’all participating in Dry January this month? (Are you now googling Dry January?) If you’re not aware, Dry January is a month-long initiative in which adults commit to being sober. And every year it seems like there’s a lot of back-and-forth conversation about why you should or shouldn’t take part.
It really came to the forefront of people’s minds when Chrissy Tiegen announced this month that she is newly sober. But other than just being “on trend” are there benefits to removing alcohol from your life for just 31 days?
Kimberly Young, a board-certified nutritionist, says that there are most definitely benefits. One of the biggest benefits actually has to do with your metabolism. “Alcohol, even in moderation, contributes to a slower metabolism and increased levels of blood pressure and cholesterol,” she says.
Second, drinking can really mess with your sleep. Young says alcohol can increase your levels of cortisol (aka the stress hormone) and therefore increase your systemic levels of inflammation.
Not to mention you become dehydrated. “Even the day after consumption, alcohol dehydrates the entire body—including your skin—and increases sugar cravings,” she notes.
Third, alcohol can have a negative impact on your gut health in that it increases levels of reflux and indigestion. So, the answer is yes, cutting alcohol out for a month can really do your body some good.
But what if you have an event coming up or a birthday dinner that you really want to celebrate—will that one glass of wine undo all of the good? Nope. Young says that even if you quit for two weeks you can expect improved energy levels and better sleep during that time.
“Without alcohol, your body has more time to burn food calories and for some people that can mean weight loss,” she notes. “At a minimum, your body is burning fuel more efficiently. Most people experience improved digestion and have less sugar and starch cravings. By giving up alcohol, you’re also giving your skin time to rehydrate and to intake the necessary nutrients it needs, improving overall appearance.”
Basically, when you give up alcohol even for just a short amount of time, your body not only feels better but looks better too. Win-win. “It’s confidence building when you know you’re proactively improving your overall health,” Young adds.
She also notes that this may be a good time to check in with yourself about your relationship with alcohol. By being mindful about your intake you’re able to notice why you’re drinking in the first place.
Finally, Young emphasizes that women should strive to keep in mind this one thing: “In general, alcohol can increase levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer,” she explains. “Alcohol also may increase breast cancer risk by damaging DNA in cells. Compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have even three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer.”
If that’s not an incentive to drink less, I don’t know what is.
Are you participating in Dry January, or considering going sober for a few weeks? Tell us why at email@example.com.
Image courtesy of iStock.