Benefits of Doing Dry January

As well as improving focus and concentration, increasing energy levels and giving you brighter, healthier skin, cutting down – or better still, cutting out – your alcohol consumption for a while has myriad benefits for both your physical and mental health and wellbeing. If you do decide to embark on a booze-free month, here are just a few things you can expect on your Dry January journey.

It can alleviate depression

Although it might feel like a glass of wine when you’re feeling low will help boost your mood, the opposite is actually true. Alcohol is classified as a central nervous system depressant, which means it slows down brain function and neural activity by enhancing the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA. The effects – slurred speech, reduced inhibitions and distorted judgement ­– can make any existing depressive symptoms worse, as well as trigger new anxiety and feelings of stress.

It can improve sleep

As well as decreasing the amount of restorative REM sleep you get once you do fall asleep, drinking a glass of two of wine or beer before bed can affect your body’s ability to actually get to sleep in the first place. That’s because it’s thought to interfere with the body’s regulation of a neurotransmitter called adenosine, which is linked to the initiation of sleep. Getting enough quality sleep every night is essential for boosting your mental and physical health, so going dry, even for a month is a great way to improve your overall health.

It can reduce bloating

Because alcohol is an inflammatory substance, you might notice, if you’re a frequent drinker, that you’re often left feeling bloated and sluggish after a particularly heavy session or back-to-back days of drinking. While all alcohol is calorie dense in its nature, the sugar present only adds to the problem, making it more calorific, and what’s worse, full of empty calories with no nutritional benefit at all. On top of this, carbonated alcohol like beer can further exacerbate bloating, as can the irritation booze causes to your gastrointestinal tract. If you frequently experience bloating around your face, that could be down to drinking too. Alcohol dehydrates the body which causes the skin to hold on to as much water as possible, resulting in that tell-tale puffiness you often see the morning after a big night before.

It can strengthen your immune system

Amongst the many problems alcohol consumption can cause for the body is its effect on the immune system. In the gut, an area hugely responsible for maintaining overall health and balance in the rest of the body, alcohol can trigger inflammation and even kill the healthy bacterial microorganisms that are so needed for maintaining a strong immune system. In the lungs, alcohol can damage the immune cells that keep harmful pathogens from disrupting and infecting airways. Metabolising alcohol can also distract the body from other important jobs such as wound healing and fighting off disease.