January is well underway, and you might have started the new year on a healthier note by giving up alcohol for Dry January. If so, your heart, liver, memory, and wallet, could thank you for it.
Every year, thousands of people go alcohol-free for Dry January, an annual health campaign, founded by Alcohol Change, that encourages people to think about their alcohol consumption and to improve drinking habits across the UK.
Dry January started in 2013 with 4,000 people. Now in its 11th year it has come a long way, with over 175,000 people taking part in 2023.
Dry January offers us the chance to rejuvenate our bodies and prioritise our health post the festive celebrations. It’s an opportunity to take a break from alcohol, reconsider our drinking habits, and save money too!
What’s the problem with alcohol?
Alcohol consumption is linked with more than 200 health conditions, including liver disease, high blood pressure, depression, mental health issues and several cancers, to name but a few. It is also the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability for people aged 15-49 in the UK[i].
And, as every dental professional advocates, there’s another important reason to limit alcohol consumption – your oral health. Drinking too much alcohol carries serious oral health risks, including oral cancer, tooth decay, tooth erosion, and accidental dental trauma due to falls and accidents when people are intoxicated.
What are the benefits of Dry January?
Dry January is known to have a positive impact on those who take part, and by cutting out alcohol for just 30 days can make a noticeable difference in your health. According to a study in BMJ Open, the benefits of taking a month off alcohol include:
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced diabetes risk
- Lower cholesterol
- Reduced levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood
The study also found that regular drinkers who abstained from alcohol for 30 days slept better, had more energy and lost weight.
Better still, once Dry January is over there is usually a notable drop in alcohol consumption amongst those who took part. Research conducted by the University of Sussex reported that six months after taking on Dry January, 70% of people were still drinking more healthily.
Dry January facts
Whether you’re taking part in Dry January, or simply want a break from the booze at any time, staying motivated isn’t always easy. But the facts speak for themselves.
- Improved sleep: Sleep patterns are likely to improve significantly, making it easier to wake in the mornings feeling refreshed with a notable increase in energy levels.
- Improved appearance: Consuming less alcohol helps to make your skin look more refreshed and your eyes brighter.
- Boost to the immune system: alcohol has the potential to supress the immune system, making you more susceptible to viruses and infections and reducing your ability to fight off illness.
- Improved oral health: avoiding alcohol can result in fresher breath and a healthier smile.
Making a positive change
For many, January is the time for giving things up or taking things on. Along with giving up alcohol for Dry January, another popular challenge is Veganuary where people stop using or eating any animal products throughout the month.
Veganuary’s organisers claim a plant-based diet is good for your health, reduces animal suffering and helps the environment. With inflation pushing up the cost of meat and alcohol, there’s a chance both could also save you a lot of money.
Making sudden lifestyle changes can be difficult so don’t be hard on yourself if you slip up. The aim is to inspire long-term changes and by taking things one step at a time, you’re already on the road to change for the better.
If you would like further oral health advice, book your next dental check-up or hygiene appointment by calling us on 01482 565488.
[i] Alcohol Change UK