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Five reasons to try going dry in January

New Year’s resolutions typically include intention, energy and action for a better coming year—saving money, losing weight, tackling blood pressure or moving our bodies more. Often the goal is so big or complicated that we fail after a couple weeks.

Consider this: you could accomplish all the goals mentioned above by resolving to give up one habit, for only one short month. That’s right. You can accomplish so many things that truly would improve your heath in only 30 of 365 days. You can reduce your risk of diabetes and cancer. You can lower your cholesterol and the number on the scale. You can save some cash and sleep better at night, too.

What is this one little thing you can change? Give up alcohol and go “dry” for one month. In fact, Campbell County Health has partnered with the Campbell County DUI Task Force, Campbell County Public Health and the Campbell County Prevention Council to encourage Campbell County, Wyoming residents to try Dry January 

The benefits of ditching drinks are big—even if it’s only short term. Research demonstrates how valuable it is to limit alcohol. A study by researchers from the University of Sussex in Falmer, UK, just this past year illustrates the advantages of eliminating alcohol for one month and concludes that the benefits are long lasting.

The research conducted by Dr. Richard de Visser from the University of Sussex, found that the 800 people who took part in his Dry January initiative in 2018 reported higher energy levels and healthier weight. They also felt less need to drink alcohol, even several months after participating in this initiative. The University of Sussex research showed that:

  • 93% of participants had a sense of achievement
  • 88% saved money
  • 80% feel more in control of their drinking
  • 70% had generally improved health
  • 71% slept better
  • 67% had more energy
  • 58% lost weight
  • 57% had better concentration
  • 54% had better skin

So now let’s look at some of the intermingled reasons why the participants felt they had benefited from participating in the initiative.

Reducing alcohol intake lowers blood pressure
According to Mayo Clinic: “Having more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily increases your blood pressure, but repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term increases.”

Also, alcohol can interfere with the how well blood pressure medications work, even increasing some of the side effects associated with some blood pressure medications.

Heavy drinkers who adjust their intake to even moderate drinking can lower their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) by 2 to 4 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and their diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in a blood pressure reading) by 1 to 2 mm Hg.

Drinking makes weight maintenance or loss a challenge
It’s important to remember that alcohol contains calories and may contribute to unwanted weight gain—an additional risk factor for high blood pressure. There are almost 150 calories in one 12-ounce can of beer, and 125 calories in a 5-ounce glass of red wine. To put that into perspective, a typical snack should have between 150-200 calories. Happy hour with several drinks can lead to consuming a few hundred empty calories. Those extra calories end up stored as excess body fat—especially in the belly.

Excess body fat is a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes and more
The American Heart Association lists excess alcohol intake as a link to obesity, heart disease, stroke and diabetes among other health conditions like cancer. One of the key factors in this equation is weight gain as well as an increase in triglycerides.

In addition, the American Diabetes Association says light to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with lower cardiovascular mortality and a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The hard conclusion here is reducing your alcohol intake even moderately can lead to less health risks!

Alcohol isn’t a sleep aid, and can actually lead to a poor night’s rest
WebMD says a recent review of 27 studies shows that “alcohol does not improve sleep quality. According to the findings, alcohol does allow healthy people to fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply for a while, but it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.”

REM sleep is the stage of sleep when we dream and is believed to be the most restorative part of our rest. We all know that a rested body is more likely to do important things like exercise and make good nutrition choices, which in turn influences many facets of our health- including our weight, our risk of disease and also our energy levels.

Alcohol impacts the wallet
I read a great post while researching this blog from the Huffington Post: “The Amount Of Money You Spend On Drinking May Blow Your Mind, and Your Budget, Too.”

The article gave an example of how much one might spend on alcohol purchases per week and how that could add up. So with this in mind, I found the pricing of my favorite “girly drink” and tallied up the cost if I had two drinks, two days of each week for a year. Here is what I came up with

  • Weekly I’d spend $35.96 on four of those margaritas.
  • Monthly I’d spend $143.84.
  • Annually I would spend $1,726.08!

And that doesn’t include tips or any sort of tax! Where could you go on vacation with that much money?

With all this in mind, there is a pretty convincing case to limit your alcohol consumption. Even if you don’t accomplish this goal for an entire year, one month is a task that is very accomplishable and also has the power to influence many benefits to your health.

Alcohol has been linked to over 60 health conditions—and doesn’t mix with a healthy pocketbook either.

What a difference a month can make, and how great would it be to accomplish a New Year’s resolution in only 30 days?

So, consider this: Try going dry this January, and let us know how you feel. In fact, share your experience on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and use #trydrywyo when you post.

Rachel Conrad talks about the importance of participating in Dry January. Have Questions?
Rachel Conrad, PBT, CPT, MA, works at CCH Wellness as a Technician, Phlebotomist and Health Coach in Gillette, Wyoming. Campbell County Health's Wellness works to reduce health risks and promote overall wellness among employee groups and individuals in Campbell County, Wyoming and beyond. To learn more about Wellness, please visit www.cchwyo.org/services/wellness/ or call 307-688-8051.

Wellness offers the Campbell County, Wyoming community daily blood draws every Monday-Thursday, from 6 am-12 pm, and Friday, from 6-11 am, at 1901 Energy Ct., Suite 125—located behind Wendy's in Gillette, Wyoming. For Wright residents, these screenings are also available at the Wright Clinic, 500 Latigo Drive, Monday-Friday from 8-11 am. No appointment required! Use the My Health Home patient portal and get access to most test results in less than 48 hours. For more information about the blood tests and health screenings available at Wellness, call 307.688.8051 or visit www.cchwyo.org/screen.