With the holidays nearly over and January right around the corner, it’s time to get back to the gym and healthy eating. It’s also time to consider a “Dry January” and swearing off alcohol for the month. A dry January will help you hit the reset button and make up for over-indulgences during the holidays. Here’s a look at the health benefits of cutting out or reducing your alcohol intake throughout the year:
Alcohol can be very caloric, and the calories are empty with no beneficial nutrients. Cutting back on drinking is one of the quickest ways to reduce unnecessary calories.
Alcohol inhibits sleep quality, compromising the deep, REM sleep that makes you feel rested. Quality sleep can strengthen neuronal connections and enhance learning, problem-solving and mental performance.
Improved Brain Function
Of course, alcohol affects the brain while you are under the influence, but it can also lead to long-term cognitive decline. Reducing consumption can lead to better focus and concentration.
Alcohol suppresses the healthy immune function, leaving you more exposed to colds, flu, and viruses. It can impair both the innate ‘first line of defense’ immunity, as well as the adaptive ‘seek and destroy’ arm.
Improved Mental Health
While a glass of wine or cocktail may help take the edge off after a tough day, alcohol is a depressant that may actually increase feelings of stress and anxiety.
Dry January can be a useful exercise if you consider it the start of a healthy new habit that continues throughout the entire year. Try to integrate new habits into your lifestyle by setting a certain number of dry days per week, or capping your drinking to 1 or 2 glasses when you do indulge. While the “all or nothing” approach is not always ideal, it can be a valuable first step to improving your health!
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