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Dry January: What is it and how beneficial can alcohol consumption be?



If you still feel hungry after New Year's Eve champagne or have had too many nasty eggs over the holidays, start a new start this January.

The challenge of drying in January, d. H. Drinking no alcohol throughout the month is a solution that could actually make you healthier.

The Dry January campaign was launched in England in 2013 and is now making waves on this side of the pond. Australia and New Zealand have shared similar challenges.

Little research has been done on how alcohol affects your body for a month, but some studies have shown psychological and health benefits.

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In 201

3, 14 New Scientist researchers collaborated with researchers at the University of London Medical School's Department of Liver and Digestive Health to examine the benefits of Dry January.

The staff, all of whom considered themselves "normal" drinkers, underwent baseline blood tests, liver ultrasound scans, and questionnaires. Over the next five weeks, 10 of them stopped drinking and four drank their normal amounts.

  PHOTO: Women are presented with wine glasses in an undated photo archive. Bildarchiv / Getty Images
Women are pictured with wine glasses in an undated stock photo liver fat levels (which may be a precursor to liver damage), improved blood sugar and lower cholesterol levels than at the beginning of the month. They also reported improved sleep and concentration. By contrast, the four people who continued to drink saw no benefit.

The University of Sussex reported that Dry-Dry participants in the United Kingdom had several other benefits in 2015: 82 percent experienced a sense of achievement, 79 percent saved money, 62 percent had better sleep, and 62 percent had more energy and lost 49 percent weight.

Staying dry in January can also help people give up alcohol longer.

Although most people who attend Dry January go back to drinking, according to Public Health England and the British Medical Journal, up to eight percent stay dry six months later.

And those who drink again drink less. A study conducted in the UK in 2015 and published in the journal Health Psychology found that people who took part in Dry January drank less, drank less than they drank, and were drunk less than six months after completing Dry January ,

Dry January participants were also better able to refuse alcoholic drinks. These benefits even became apparent in people who had not completed the entire month of January.

It may be daunting to stop drinking alcohol for a month. Between cocktail hour after work, beer during the football match and the relaxing glass of wine after a long day, our culture sometimes seems to be spinning for alcohol.

However, the 2015 health psychology study found that 65 percent of people successfully completed the month of abstinence.

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The longer you can stay away from alcohol, the better.

People who drink too much alcohol – more than seven drinks a week for women or people over the age of 65, and more than 14 drinks a week for men under the age of 65 – are at higher risk for death and many medical illnesses.

Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States, according to the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

People who drink unhealthy amounts of alcohol are more likely to have high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, nerve damage, infections, including pneumonia and even certain cancers, such as breast cancer.

  PHOTO: One person is poured with red wine. Joe Vaughn / Getty Images
A person is poured with red wine.

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is also associated with a number of psychiatric conditions. These include depression, higher suicide rates, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, insomnia and other disorders of drug abuse.

Dr. Fulton Crews, director of the Alcohol Studies Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that trying to stop drinking for Dry January was a good opportunity for people to see if they were actually alcohol dependent.

"Many people refuse to drink and drink dangerously, and when they try to quit and are unable to do so, this indicates their weakness," Crews ABC News said. "If she can not stop." For a month, they would realize that they have a problem.

"Either that or they do, and they realize it's not that hard for them," said Crews, who described Dry January as a "good idea."

For those who drink alcohol within recommended limits, Crews said he was "not sure if there would be any observable benefits".

"I see no clear potential for a moderate alcoholic to stop drinking," he said.

If you choose to participate in Dry January, Crews has given its advice on sticking to the program.

"Try to avoid the temptation by possibly removing all the alcohol from the house," he said.

For information and resources on alcohol-related problems and health, the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is available as a resource. The NIH group supports and conducts research on the impact of alcohol consumption on human health and well-being. Visit the NIAAA website here: http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Help-links/Default.aspx

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on January 3, 2018.


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