DRY JANUARY 2022
It’s another new year (happy New Year by the way!) and another push for Dry January. If you have felt like the picture above a few too many times over the festive period, giving up the booze in January might be a welcome relief. But many people will be reluctant to give up their favourite tipple.
Maybe it is time to view giving up alcohol a bit differently? What if you weren’t giving something up but gaining something instead? More energy, better sleep, balanced hormones or better mood. Giving up alcohol for one month may help all of these. Why not give it a go?
What is Dry January?
Dry January is the UK campaign to give up alcohol for January. It is run by the Alcohol Change UK and has lots of resources on their website. Dry January started in 2013 with around 4,000 people taking part. It’s now gained momentum and around 130,000 took part in 2021. With 86% percent of people saving money. 70% of people reporting better sleep and 66% saying they had more energy. The advantages speak for themselves.
Reasons to do Dry January?
Research by the Royal Free hospital found that a month off of alcohol lowered blood pressure, reduced the risk of diabetes, lowered cholesterol and reduced the levels of cancer related proteins in the blood.
Research also reports a better relationship with alcohol after a month’s abstinence. With more than 70% of people drinking less 6 months after they finish Dry January. The research concluded that challenges like Dry January created links to long term changes in behaviour with alcohol.
Giving up or reducing alcohol can help improve sleep, mood and body composition. It can also improve brain health, gut health, blood sugar regulation and increase energy levels.
Alcohol and it’s effect on sleep
Although many people think alcohol makes them sleep better, it actually acts as a sedative. You may get off to sleep quicker but it is very disruptive to the sleep patterns the body needs. Alcohol also causes fragmentation of sleep meaning you are more likely to wake up frequently. So although alcohol is thought as sleep inducing it is actually sedation inducing, which is not sleep at all!
Alcohol and it’s effect on hormones and the menopause
Alcohol raises the body temperature and can raise the heart rate. Which can be a trigger for hot flushes and night sweats. Increased heart rate can also trigger palpitations, which are common in the menopause.
Alcohol has an impact on the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. It reduces progesterone, which may already be low and increases oestrogen, which during the menopause is fluctuating. This can cause menopausal symptoms to worsen. Alcohol also has an effect on mood. Initially alcohol may lift the mood, but if too much is consumed it becomes a depressant. Menopause makes women more prone to depression and anxiety. So alcohol can potentially worsen this.
It appears alcohol and the menopause aren’t a great mix! Limiting alcohol or giving it up during the menopause transition is definitely going to be beneficial. Dry January is a great chance to see if cutting out alcohol for a month has an effect on your menopausal symptoms.
Alcohol and Midlife
Research done in Australia found that women in the 50-69 age group are more likely to drink more than younger women. But with alcohol tolerance and the bodies ability to detoxify alcohol decreasing with age, this can cause a lot of problems. It also explains why hangovers are so much worse than they used to be!
If you are use to having a drink, it is good to have some alternatives to stop you feeling deprived. With the alcohol free and low alcohol market booming, the good news is there are lots of alternatives around. Thankfully alcohol free no longer means taste free.
Why not try kombucha, a fermented tea drink. With lots of great flavours and a bit of fizz it makes a great alternative to alcohol. Or you could try and make your own, experimenting with different flavours. It is not only a great alcohol alternative it can improve gut health. What’s not to love?
To reap the benefits of Dry January try to avoid sugary drinks to replace your usual tipple. Try adding fresh fruit (try tangy lemon or lime) and herbs/spices (mint, rosemary and grated ginger all work well) to sparkling water, still water or soda water on ice for a refreshing low sugar drink.
Alcohol is one of many factors which can affect the menopause. If you are struggling with any menopausal symptoms and would like to book a free call to discuss them, then please get in touch. Reflexology is also a wonderful tool in helping with women’s health problems. So please get in touch to find out more or to book in.
Whilst avoiding or reducing alcohol in January isn’t the magic bullet to optimal health, it does have lots of health benefits. So, with all the potential health benefits it might be worth giving it a go. Happy Dry January!