Why experts say ‘Dry January’ can have big health benefits

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – The new year is almost upon us and some people will start 2023 without any alcohol. This trend is called “Dry January.”

People at Burlington’s Church Street Marketplace don’t seem all that familiar with Dry January, and they don’t seem all that excited about it either.

“Seems like a good way if someone has an alcohol problem to ask them to take a month off,” said one.

“I’m not really interested in participating but I understand why some people want to,” said another.

But Brandon Lawson likes to use it as an opportunity to check in with himself and says this is going to be Dry January, year two.

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“It went well, I finally felt better not only mentally but physically. And actually, it was going so well, I continued until February of last year,” said Lawson.

According to food and research firm CGA, 35% of legal-age adults in the US do so to begin 2022.

There are benefits to putting the bottle away– even for just a month– according to health experts.

“For most people, it gives their bodies time to just rid themselves of substances that our bodies generally don’t want and are constantly trying to process,” said Dr. Peter Jackson, a psychiatrist with the UVM Health Network. .

Jackson said, in general, Dry January is a good thing. For those struggling with mental health, stopping drinking can reveal underlying issues and give people a chance to see how they really feel. And the bottom line– it’s better for your physical health, too.

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“It’s toxic to our bodies,” says Laura Biron, a dietitian and nutritionist.

Biron says more and more of his clients are turning away from drinking, even if it’s just to feel better.

While calories aren’t necessarily bad, calories from alcohol and sugary mixers don’t do much for your body.

“It’s the alcohol that can cause some extra calories without any nutritional benefit,” says Biron.

He says it’s a diuretic, sucking you dry of hydration and sodium.

“We spend a lot of money on cosmetics and moisturizers, and reducing alcohol consumption can show up in more hydrated skin,” says Biron.

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It also wreaks havoc on your gut microbiome, causes bloating and reflux, irritates IBS and it can cause impulsive eating.

By putting down the booze and grabbing something like seltzer, your stomach can thank you.

“Overall, digesting food more comfortably, the absence of bloating, assimilating nutrients from food and better elimination– can’t go wrong with that,” Biron said.

Keep in mind, if you have a heavy drinking habit, you can go through withdrawal by quitting cold turkey. Dr. Jackson says if you qualify, seek medical help to make a plan and get supervision.


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