Contemplating a Dry January? Here’s what it could do for your health

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SEATTLE, Wash – The hashtag #DryJanuary may have caught your eye this New Year’s Day. There are definite benefits if you’re thinking about ditching the booze to start 2022.

UW Medicine estimates 15% of American adults plan to give up alcohol in the first month of 2022.

27% of those taking part in the month-long abstinence are Millennials, people born between 1982 and 1999.

“People simply report that they just feel better,” said Dr. Rotonya Carr, head of gastroenterology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

“Stopping drinking for just 31 days gives people more energy. They’re just not as fatigued. They’re sleeping better. Their blood pressure improves; their cholesterol panels improve.”

Dr. Carr says giving your liver a break, even for a month, is beneficial.

It could help jump start a weight loss plan as well.

Alcohol has a lot of calories. We call them empty calories,” Dr. Carr said. “There’s very little nutrition there, so simply removing alcohol from one’s diet can also promote weight loss, which, as I mentioned, the combination of obesity and alcohol has really severe consequences for the liver. So Dry January, perhaps, is a strategy to combat both.”

Dr. Carr has some tips if you’re planning to partake.

She suggests planning ahead for how you’ll handle social events and other things that often involve alcohol. Knowing what drinks you’ll substitute for alcohol will help you resist.

Also, have a buddy. It will help to have someone to hold you accountable.

“You need a crew, as with all things,” Carr said. “If you don’t have someone you can think about in your life, then online resources are very helpful as well to really get that network built to make sure you’re successful.”

There are even apps you can download to help you stay on track and track your progress.

This change for just one month can have an impact on your health, long after January is over.

For those people who commit to abstaining from alcohol for just a month in January, if we ask them six months later what are their alcohol consumption habits – they have really committed to reducing alcohol for a long period of time,” said Dr. Carr. “So, making changes in January actually is associated with long term reductions in alcohol consumption as well.”