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The Side Effects of Taking a Break From Alcohol May Motivate You To Try Dry January

Giving up drinking for a month or so can benefit your health in a number of ways.
FACT CHECKED BY Samantha Boesch

It's no secret that drinking alcohol can harm your health, especially if you happen to indulge in your favorite bottle of red or white wine, craft beer, and Pinterest-worthy cocktails on a regular basis. On the other hand, staying sober for a certain period of time can give your body the kind of boost that it might need in order to feel refreshed and reinvigorated. That's why you might be tempted to take part in "Dry January."

Opting to take a break from alcohol—specifically following the often booze-filled holiday season—is a popular choice for many people. CNN Business reported in February 2022 that 35% of adults in the U.S. who were of legal age to drink were taking part in Dry January. That number was up from the 21% of adults who chose to stay away from alcohol during the first month of 2019. Of course, there are some very good reasons why you might want to become one of those people. Not only can it give your wallet a rest and keep hangovers at bay for a while, it can also seriously benefit your body.

Read on to learn about the benefits of taking a break from drinking alcohol. Then, if you decide you want to try Dry January, here are 5 Mocktail Recipes That Are Almost Better Than the Real Deal.

It can help your liver health

Not drinking

"For one, it can help your liver focused on healthy detox functions instead of processing alcohol. Alcohol can be considered a toxin [which means] that the liver stops doing all its other functions until alcohol is cleared, which could take a few hours depending on the number of servings," says Paulina Lee, MSHS, RD, LD, gut health functional dietitian and founder of Savvy Stummy, LLC. "For women especially, the liver will divert its attention to detoxing alcohol instead of estrogen, which may lead to estrogen dominance and a slew of other hormonal symptoms."

It can give your gut a break

Saying no to more alcohol

Lee notes that "Alcohol, especially in large amounts, can also damage the gastrointestinal tract by promoting gut inflammation." Apparently, "Alcohol has been shown to disrupt gut imbalance, causing gut dysbiosis, bacterial overgrowth, and increased intestinal permeability, which may lead to gut troubles like gas, bloating, and more inflammation." That's why Lee points out that "If your New Year's resolution is to be healthy, then limiting or taking breaks from alcohol may be a place to start."

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It can help you if you have a chronic illness

woman refusing or saying no to being poured a glass of wine alcohol

If you happen to like how you feel after staying away from alcohol for a month, then you may want to keep your sober streak going. That may be even more beneficial for certain kinds of people. Lee explains that "If someone already has a chronic syndrome or illness, such as IBS or liver disease, it may be recommended to limit or stop alcohol consumption, depending on the individual's reactions to alcohol intake."

Of course, it's not always easy to say no to a drink, which is why Lee says, "If you're looking to stay social without drinking alcohol, there are a lot of new products out there that are non-alcoholic, and some that come with adaptogens for added health benefits."

Finally, Lee notes that "If you do decide to drink, try to stick with the daily recommendation of one to two drinks per day, alternate alcohol with water, and try to balance out alcohol intake while focusing on sleep, nutrition, and increasing anti-inflammatory foods or habits."

Desirée O
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more about Desirée