As I have written a lot about new year resolutions recently I felt this was an appropriate topic. For many of you Dry January is an annual routine as you've probably consumed a little too much alcohol over Christmas and fancy a liver detox. For some it's a new year resolution and for others it's a challenge for charity. Whatever your reasoning, Dry January comes with some added health benefits.
1. Mental self-restraint - like any other muscle will power and self restraint are strengthened with training (or practise). Most of the time your environment can override any biological messages. Abstaining from drinking for a month not only allows your body a rest (which we will come on to) but will also strengthen your self-discipline. Dry January may therefore actually increase the likelihood of sticking to your other new year resolutions.
2. The liver - as many of us are aware alcohol is metabolised by the liver. On average the liver can only metabolise 1 unit of alcohol per hour. Put that into perspective on a night out and I'm pretty sure some of us drink more than 1 unit an hour. As a result our liver will go into overdrive attempting to remove the 'poison' (that's essentially how the liver views alcohol). The liver is therefore put under immense stress on top of carrying out it's regular functions of metabolism, bile production, toxin removal and many others. The effects last for a considerable amount of time not just for the time you are drinking. Abstaining from alcohol therefore allows the liver to concentrate on its normal bodily functions without working in an over driven state.
3. Increased vitamins - if you've experienced a hangover you'll know the feeling of craving a greasy burger and then climbing back into bed for the rest of the day. Alcohol depletes your body of nutrients particularly magnesium and B-vitamins. Often the need to replace these is mistaken with the desire for a fry-up. As a result these aren't always replaced straight away which puts you at risk of deficiency. Abstaining from alcohol ensures that as long as you are eating a healthy balanced diet you'll be nutrient replete for a while!
4. Productivity - this leads on from my last point. You'll have your weekends back! They won't be spent in bed with your head under the pillow for the most part of the day wondering what happened to you the night before and your 9am workout will become a whole lot more desirable and achievable!
Evidently there are some big positives associated with Dry January. However, it is important to comment on how mad some people go when it's over. I'm not suggesting you become tee total for life just simply be aware and don't consider February a catch-up drinking fest!