Between all the invites you were turning down, that lonely beer calling you from the fridge and no apparent health effects other than driving yourself crazy, throwing in the towel was inevitable.
Before you pick up another six pack, there’s something you should know. A group of Londoners saw some major health benefits from a “dry January” that just might be significant enough to inspire you to hit the reset button.
In late 2013, 14 healthy staffers at the U.K-based New Scientist magazine whose “normal” drinking routines ranged from eight to 64 12-ounce bottles of beer per week conducted an experiment to see if a short-term break from alcohol would result in any measurable health benefits. Ten people gave up alcohol for five weeks. Another four did not alter their drinking habits. The result: the temporary tea-totalers had something to cheer about, significantly lowering their risk of liver damage and diabetes in just one month.
After comparing the participant’s pre- and post-experiment blood tests, doctors at the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at University College London discovered that among those who gave up drinking, liver fat–a strong predictor of liver damage–fell between an astonishing 15 to 20 percent. The abstainers’ blood glucose levels–a key factor in diabetes–also dropped by an average of 16 percent.
The takeaway for the rest of us: since excessive fat in the liver is caused by obesity and excessive alcohol consumption, it’s a simple fact that less booze means fewer calories and fat cells that can cause inflammation and lead to liver disease, even in the short term. We’ll drink a rootbeer to that.