Dry January – an initiative to encourage and support people to give up alcohol for a calendar month – was first set up by British charity, Alcohol Change UK back in 2012. A decade on and millions of people now use it to kickstart their New Year’s resolutions – not just to break the habit of drinking alcohol, but to reap a number of health and wellbeing benefits, too.
ZoomDoc’s Chief Medical Officer and GP, Dr Kenny Livingstone says it’s well worth trying:
‘In moderation, drinking alcohol can be fine, but when it becomes relied on or gets out of control, there’s no doubt it’s a bad health habit to have. Dry January not only helps you break the habit, it also helps your liver, sleep, skin, overall immune system and more.’
Here are just some of the health benefits of giving up booze for 31 days, or more. Will you give it a try?
1. You’ll improve your overall health
2018 research found that a month off alcohol not only lowers blood pressure, it also reduces your risk of diabetes, lowers cholesterol and reduces levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood.
By giving your liver some well-deserved time off from having to break down alcohol, you’ll also notice improved digestion and immune system – you may still get sick but you should be able to fight off viruses that bit quicker than before.
2. You’ll sleep better
According to Alcohol Change UK, 70% of people who’ve taken part in Dry January notice they get a better night’s sleep without alcohol. 66% have more energy as a result.
And the knock-on effects of those benefits are endless. From being more productive at work, to feeling motivated and more confident, you’ll soon realise just how beneficial a good night’s sleep is.
3. You’ll lose weight
Whether you drink creamy cocktails or skinny margaritas, alcohol is calorific due to the amount of sugar it contains. A pint contains as many calories as a Mars Bar and even a glass of wine is the equivalent of three Jaffa Cakes, says the NHS. And of course drinking comes with other calorific habits like a late-night kebab, or early morning fry-up to cure a hangover, which means gaining weight and drinking alcohol really do go hand-in-hand.
After a month without those extra calories, you’ll not only feel better but look better, too. Most people who stop drinking notice the inches fall off from around their middle, which is often where alcohol-related weight is stored.
4. You’ll save money
Alcohol is pretty pricey, so no wonder 86% of Dry January participants have saved money by taking part, reveals Alcohol Change UK – particularly handy as the cost-of-living crisis continues. Depending on how much you usually drink and what you usually drink, you can expect to save hundreds of pounds this month.
And of course, saving money can help ease stress, anxiety and take a weight off, which in itself is a huge mental health benefit.
5. You’ll feel fantastic
And so you should!
‘Cutting out alcohol is no mean feat and whether you keep it going beyond January or simply use this month to detox and reflect on what drinking does to your body and your overall health, it’s something I’d encourage everyone to do,’ says Dr Kenny,
‘Alcohol-related illness accounts for millions of doctors’ appointments and hospital appointments so anything we can do to reduce this right now will help the NHS, too, so Dry January is definitely a win, win!’ he adds.
If you’re worried about how alcohol is affecting your health, download the ZoomDoc app today and speak to a GP in seconds either via a telephone or video consultation. Our GPs are available 24/7 for immediate help and advice.
If you’d like to try Dry January, get involved here.