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Dry January, a recap....

Like many of us, I had a jolly old time during the holiday festivities which, ahem, included more bubbly than I'd like to admit. This, in addition to an entire calendar year of cancelled work due to Covid-19 and drinking really did become an appealing activity! Now let me just clarify, I am not and never have been a heavy drinker. As a professional dancer and wellness professional keeping my body and mind in peak condition is imperative for optimal performance. I will admit that I am an avid wine lover, however drinking has never been an activity unto itself, but rather a companion to good food, friends and conversation. All that being said, I knew come January 1st I would dedicate myself to at least one alcohol free month .

Before I share more about my personal experience, I'd like to talk a bit about the benefits and detriments of including alcohol in your diet. First of all, I hope it goes without saying that heavy alcohol consumption is dangerous and can cause a myriad of health problems, period. There are too many to even begin talking about here. Secondly, what you're drinking is just as important as how much. Studies have shown that if you do choose to drink alcohol the healthiest options to choose from seem to be;

~Tequila; agaves, natural sugars found in tequila, are non-digestible meaning they act like fiber and won't raise your blood sugar levels. (one serving 1.5 oz)

~Red wine; yes, all wine does convert to sugar in the body which is not good for you however the active compounds in red wine (polyphenols, resveratrol and quercetin) have been proven to improve overall heart health. (one serving 5 oz)

~Whiskey; one serving of whiskey contains as many antioxidants as a glass of wine. It also contains ellagic acid, which has been researched for its ability to fight cancer and other diseases. (one serving 1.5 oz)

~Champagne; believe it or not studies have shown that champagne may enhance memory performance and help prevent degenerative brain disorders. (one serving 4-6 oz)

As lovely as it is to learn about the health benefits of alcohol, this article is not meant to encourage drinking. I did however want to give you some healthier choices if you do include alcohol in your diet.

Now on to my alcohol free month. I suppose the most noticeable difference was my energy level. I found myself feeling more alert in the morning and having lasting energy throughout the day. My mental focus has been sharper and strangely I've had a sense of just feeling happier and more optimistic. I'm not saying that I was unhappy before by any stretch of the imagination or that I was pessimistic. But my outlook on things seems to have brightened up.

On a physical note, my skin has definitely looked more hydrated with that extra glow. The skin around my eyes looks brighter with less dark circles. I don't wake up feeling dehydrated from that extra glass of wine the night before.

All things considered, I can say that whether you're a wine lover who couldn't imagine a meal without a glass of Pinot or an "only on special occasions" drinker, allowing yourself an alcohol detox every now and then can do your body and mind a wealth of good.

On a scientific note this is what happens to your body after a month of no alcohol.

~Skin is more hydrated with more water absorption and increased cell turnover. In other words, you look younger!

~Liver function recovered. Did you know the liver plays a role in over 500 vital processes in your body? To name a few; removing contaminants, converting food nutrients, regulating blood clotting, producing proteins, enzymes and bile, maintaining hormone balance, helping to fight infection, storing vitamins and minerals. And those are just some of the functions, so wouldn't we want our liver working in tip top shape??

~Your quality of sleep will vastly improve. Alcohol may help you fall asleep faster but it interferes with the important REM sleep cycle.Your first REM cycle occurs about 90 minutes after you fall asleep and recurs every 90 minutes. Typically you are supposed to have 5 or 6 REM cycles a night but if you have had alcohol you may only have one or two!

Sounds pretty good to me! And these are just a few of the benefits from abstaining from alcohol for a month. I can say with certainty that dry January will be an annual occurrence for myself. My skin and liver will thank me.

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