The holiday season can be a time of exuberant excesses. Many of us stay up too late, eat way too much good food and drink more alcohol than normal. But the calendar page eventually flips and we’re faced with a new year to pay for the good times we had. Along with trying to get your credit card bill under control, you might want to consider giving your body a break from excessive alcohol consumption.
The notion of a Dry January is gaining traction among those seeking to start the new year healthier by abstaining from drinking — yes, even wine — for an entire month. But does it do any lasting good? Experts say it helps to hit the reset button and get your health system back on track, but it may not be an effective long-term strategy.
Excessive drinking, defined as five or more drinks on one occasion for men and four or more for women, can have negative health effects, including high blood pressure, weight gain, high cholesterol and liver problems. Over time, it can affect your sleep and memory and lead to dementia, depression and anxiety.
Even so, millions of people are going to drink. But would putting down the bottle for a month do any good? Anything that helps your liver, a truly underappreciated organ, is good. Give your liver a rest and some love by eating more nutrient-dense plant-based foods, good fats and high-quality animal protein. You could feel more clear-headed and energetic, get better sleep and have better digestion.
But going back to an excessive routine after abstaining all month isn’t good either. Instead, take the time to rethink your alcohol consumption and become a moderate drinker, rather than going from one extreme to the other.