Cheers to Dry January!

Dry January, alcohol use, abstainingDid you participate in Dry January? Abstaining from alcohol for the first month of the year has gained traction since the pandemic with numerous apps available to tick off your no-alcohol days in January. The health benefits of abstaining are wide-ranging.

  • Improved liver function: give your liver a break and allow it to cleanse itself of toxins.
  • Weight loss: cutting those excess alcohol-related calories can lead to weight loss.
  • Better sleep: alcohol can interfere with sleep – leave those hangover side effects behind the next day.
  • Increased hydration: alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases the amount of urine produced and can lead to dehydration.
  • Improved mental health: alcohol can contribute to depression and anxiety – abstaining can lead to improved mood and mental well-being.

Anthony Lucca, a Memorial Wellness Center physician assistant, took on the Dry January challenge last month. He often recommends alcohol reduction to his patients.

“Admittedly, I am pretty hard on my patients and expect many lifestyle modifications as they prepare for surgery,” he said. “I didn’t think it was fair to ask people to give up alcohol without having tried to make some changes myself.”

Kara Slating, a Memorial Health photographer, also took the Dry January challenge after developing poor alcohol consumption habits during COVID-19.

“I have so much more energy,” said Slating, who wanted to set a better example for her daughter. “And I am returning to some hobbies that I love such as knitting.”

Coming off the challenge, she feels less bloated, has lost weight, sleeps better and saved money.

Dry January, alcohol use, abstainingAnthony said he is reaping the benefits of better sleep and found that saying no to a tall, cold one wasn’t as hard as he thought it would be.

“It was the beer with wings or the wine on date night that I missed the most,” he said. “My family and I went to Buffalo Wild Wings one night, and I simply had a fancy black cherry limeade drink, which cost more than the tall beer!”

Medical professionals say the healthful effects of Dry January won’t last if participants return to excessive drinking in February. Moderation is key.

Meanwhile, Anthony rode the Dry January challenge into February and plans to play it by ear, but he has added another health challenge “No Fried Food February.”

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