Dry January: Benefits, app, and will it help your liver?

Each year, as we say goodbye to the one that came before, many of us look ahead to being an improved version of ourselves in the year to come.

Whether it’s a New Year’s Resolution about spending less, exercising more or reading more, we all like to think we could adopt some positive behaviours and attitudes.

A big one many millions have done in the past is committing to Dry January – which means abstaining from alcohol for the month of January.

The charity Alcohol Change UK has been campaigning to encourage Dry January since 2013, encouraging people to think more carefully about their relationship with alcohol.

Does Dry January really have health benefits?

What are the benefits of Dry January?

The Priory Group’s addiction specialist Dr Niall Campbell has spoke with Metro.co.uk in the past, giving expert opinion on the benefits you’ll see in giving up alcohol over four weeks (and beyond).

These benefits include:

  • Improved sleep
  • Better hydration
  • More energy
  • Better digestion
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Better skin
  • Improved liver function
  • Weight loss

In his advice, Dr Campbell said: ‘When drinking alcohol, you lose around four times as much liquid as what you actually consumed.

‘Giving up alcohol can help you stay hydrated, which is beneficial for your brain. Your mood and concentration will be more stable, and headaches are likely to decrease.

‘You also won’t suffer from effects of dehydration such as lack of motivation and increased fatigue, so will have more energy throughout the day.’

Beyond the benefits suggested by the medical experts, you’ll also have the financial benefit of not spending money on rounds, or bottles to drink at home.

What is the Dry January app?

This year, there’s an official app to help you achieve your Dry January goals.

The Try Dry app will help you keep track of your units, calories and money saved, letting you earn badges along the way.

Plus, you can use it to track your drinking and set personalised goals all year round if you have goals beyond January.

You can download the app for free for Apple and Android devices.

Whether you want to add it as a support to the app or use it in place of the app, you can also sign up for online coaching emails.

 You’ll get tips, stories from other participants and much more to help you stay dry and maybe adopt some behaviours and patterns for your life beyond January.

Does Dry January help your liver?

Alcohol has long been linked to liver damage, with excessive or binge drinking leading to potentially life-threatening liver problems.

Therefore, it stands to reason, that abstaining from alcohol for a month could help your liver heal – but does it actually?

Liver specialist Jamile Wakim-Fleming, MD, is quoted as telling Cleveland Clinic that going ‘dry’ can decrease liver inflammation brought on by drinking alcohol.

‘When people stop drinking, even if it’s a month, this alcohol-induced inflammation will have the chance to improve,’ Dr. Wakim-Fleming says.

‘It’s like you’re giving that wound a little bit of time to heal itself. It may not heal all of the way back if you’ve been drinking a lot before and your liver has been severely damaged by alcohol. But it will still help.’

Dr Niall Campbell elaborated on this to Metro.co.uk, stating: ‘Removing alcohol from your diet for four weeks can also help to improve your liver function, as your liver will start to shed excess fat. If your liver function is not too badly affected by alcohol, it can recover within four to eight weeks.’

Dry January isn’t all smooth sailing though.

You may feel some ill-effects to begin with, with alcohol withdrawal symptoms including nausea and shaking.

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