How does going teetotal for 1 month effect your body?
After the annual December binge of food and drink, the first day of January always brings resolutions of diets and weight loss targets for the summer, however, millions of brave souls are also preparing themselves for a month-long break from alcohol. With an estimated £4.2bn spent on food and drink in the UK last Christmas it is no surprise that more and more people are opting to become temporary teetotallers in addition to the ‘January Dieters’.
Started by the UK's Alcohol Concern organization in 2013, the movement’s main goal is to help people "reset their relationship with alcohol." Usually once the temptations subside, when you speak to people abstaining, the feedback is quite positive, however, what effects does a month-long absence of alcohol have on the human body?
“Nothing bad,” says Jamile Wakim-Fleming, MD, a hepatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. “[Abstaining temporarily] is only going to be beneficial.” (One caveat: heavy drinkers should only quit with medical assistance, since they can experience a life-threatening form of withdrawal.)
Thirty-one days of sobriety might even help you cut back long-term: A 2016 study published in Health Psychology found that six months after the end of Dry January, people who had participated in the movement (even those who didn't abstain for the entire month) reported having fewer drinks per day, drinking fewer days a week, and getting drunk less often.
In general, less booze is a good thing: “The effects of alcohol are cumulative,” says Dr. Wakim-Fleming (who was not involved in the study). “If people drink one glass a day starting in their teens, they may be fine after 10 or 20 years—but after 40 or 50 years, they might start to experience liver problems.”
And while it’s true that moderate drinking (that's one drink a day for women, two for men) might improve your heart health, research suggests not everyone may experience these benefits.
Things you can expect after stopping the pop for a month include:
- Weight Loss - At 7 calories per gram, a standard glass of wine (5 ounces) can contain about 130 calories, and a serving of beer (12 ounces) nearly 330 calories
- Deeper Sleep - According to a 2013 study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, alcohol disrupts the most restorative phase of sleep that occurs later in the night.
- Increased Immune System - Alcohol can suppress your immune system, which might hinder your ability to fight off an illness. Even one night of too much drinking—in this case, drinking until you’re drunk—can interfere with your body’s ability to produce cytokines, or chemicals that help fight off infections.
- Younger looking skin - Alcohol can act as a diuretic, which can increase fluid loss and lead to dehydration, possibly damaging the skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Plus, adds Dr. Wakim-Fleming, when people stop drinking, they get more calories from foods; this tends to improve their vitamin intake, which can also make their skin appear healthier.
Cheers to that!