Many people turn to Dry January as a motivator to start off the new year alcohol-free.
But while abstaining from alcohol for a month might seem like a trendy, short-term New Year’s resolution, there are several health benefits that come with it.
“The benefits can vary from person to person depending on how much of a change from their baseline behavior this is,” Dr. Rekha B. Kumar, medical director of the American Board of Obesity Medicine, told Healthline.
Kumar explained that someone who drinks minimally, but chooses to do Dry January, “might feel a sense of control over their health or feel a sense of accomplishment from achieving a set goal.” Meanwhile, others who drink heavily “might notice more pronounced physiologic effects, such as more mental clarity, better sleep, weight loss, and feeling the ‘detox’ sensation, in addition to achieving a set goal.”
Amitava Dasgupta, PhD, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston, and author of the book The Science of Drinking, agrees.
Dr. Dasgupta said for social and moderate drinkers, participating in Dry January won’t make much difference to their body. However, for people who exceed recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for AmericansTrusted Source, he said Dry January can reap changes.
The guidelines state that alcohol should be consumed in moderation — up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
“Studies show that even if you drink in excess once a month, it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke,” said Dasgupta. “My warning is not for the people who drink in moderation. It’s for the people who drink too much.”