Try Stepping Away from Alcohol for a Month

People often try to adopt healthier habits at the beginning of a new year, and if you missed the chance to try a “dry January” there’s nothing stopping you from doing it in February or later — we kind of like the determination implied by a “Dry March.”

Researchers have found this form of a “30-day challenge” can offer significant health benefits. Women stand to gain even more from it because they tend to experience negative health effects from alcohol use at lower levels of consumption than men due to differences in physiology and chemistry.

Take a look at some of the upsides:

Weight loss — Alcoholic beverages often contain calories, and giving them up can contribute to weight loss. Additionally, alcohol consumption may contribute to making poor food choices, so avoiding it can have positive effects on overall nutrition.

One 2018 study by a team of American and British scientists found that 94 participants who abstained from it for a month lost an average of 3.5 pounds.

Higher insulin sensitivity — This measure is linked to a lower risk of diabetes, and according to the same study participants who abstained for one month saw a 25% improvement as measured by the HOMA (homeostatic model assessment) for insulin resistance.

Improved sleep — Alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns, and giving it up may lead to better quality sleep. Improved sleep can contribute to overall better health and well-being.

Research published by a team of French scientists in 2022 reported 56% of about 14,800 participants in national alcohol abstinence programs in Great Britain and Australia reported improved sleep.

Better sleep can boost your energy during the day.

Brighter skin — Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it contributes to dehydration and directly affects your skin, leaving it looking dry and lusterless. It can also spike hormones that contribute to breakouts and impair your skin’s antioxidant defense system against the sun’s UV rays.

A study conducted in 2019 by the pharmaceutical company Allergan found alcohol consumption is a contributing factor to undereye puffiness, sunken cheeks and flushed skin.