This may be the incentive you need to start the new year alcohol-free.

dry januaryThinking about giving up alcohol this month? If so, you're not alone. Many Americans ditch booze at the start of the new year, either as a resolution or to detox a bit after overindulging during the holiday season. But whatever your reason for becoming a teetotaler this month, there are good reasons to do so.

Dry January may have a catchy name, but it's essentially a way to reset your relationship with alcohol. Some people just do it during the 31 days of the month, but for others, the commitment to abstain from alcohol turns into a longer lifestyle change.

Here are 7 good reasons to go dry this January:

  1. You may feel better. Alcohol affects a number of functions in your body. One important one is your immune system. When you stop drinking, your immune function may improve, which will better protect you from illnesses like colds, flu and COVID-19. You may also find that your mental health improves and that you experience less depression and anxiety. Of course, your body will appreciate not experiencing the effects of a hangover after drinking.
  2. You may look better. Drinking alcohol may cause you to look bloated or puffy, which can take away from your appearance. Not only will this reduction in inflammation make you look better, but it will also be good for your health. Your skin may also look brighter, since drinking alcohol can lead to dehydration, which makes your skin look dry.
  3. You may sleep better. Although some people find that alcohol helps them fall asleep, it disrupts your quality of sleep. Once you ditch the alcohol, you'll likely find that you sleep more soundly and wake up feeling more rested.
  4. You may lose weight. By not drinking, you'll be eliminating hundreds or thousands of calories from your diet each week, depending on how much you drink. This is all done at no expense to your nutritional needs since alcohol has no nutritional benefits. Another plus is that you may eat better since drinking often makes people reach for less-than-healthy foods.
  5. Your organs will thank you. Your liver is the most affected by the alcohol you drink and not drinking gives this essential organ a break from any ill effects. Other organs, such as your heart, will also appreciate the respite from alcohol.
  6. You'll save money. The cost of alcohol can really add up, especially if you drink at a bar or restaurant. If saving money is on your list of New Year's resolutions, giving up alcohol for a month can give you a head start on your penny-pinching promise.
  7. You may re-evaluate your relationship with alcohol. Although Dry January is designed to be a one-month commitment, you may find that the benefits you reap from not drinking are worth continuing long after the calendar changes. By eliminating or limiting alcohol from your life on a longer-term basis, you'll enjoy the benefits of being alcohol-free for more than just 31 days.

Dry January is a great way to break bad habits or give your body a break after a season of alcohol-laden festivities. If you've been drinking heavily until now, it's a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider before giving up alcohol cold turkey because you may experience withdrawal symptoms.

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Date Last Reviewed: November 16, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RDN, CLT

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