Doctor Claims the Health Benefits of Dry January Are a Myth

By: Alec Donaldson | Published: Jan 19, 2024

Every January, people around the world collectively partake in abstaining from alcohol for a month in hopes of giving their livers a break from the effects of drinking. 

However, a doctor claims Dry January is a myth and won’t actually help anyone’s liver. Instead, he offers various tips that can help drinkers create a healthier balance with alcohol.

Excessive Drinking During the Festive Period

For those who enjoy a few extra drinks during the festive period at the end of the year, an alcohol-free January tends to be their form of detox. 

A group of friends gather together for a party during the Christmas period and enjoy a drink together

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Yet, one doctor claims that giving up drinking for a single month isn’t as beneficial as many believe it to be.

Giving the Liver a Break During January

According to Doctor Alasdair Scott, Director of London Health Center, Dry January is nothing more than an agreed-upon myth. 

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Speaking in an interview with the British Newspaper, the Daily Mail, he said, “When it comes to dry January, there is a perception that this is an opportunity to give your liver a ‘break’ to make up for the excesses of December and the New Year.”

Nothing More Than a Crash Diet

The doctor explains that Dry January is the equivalent of a crash diet, and no one will likely see any long-term benefits by abstaining from drinking for four weeks. 

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“It’s a bit like a crash diet in that you do it for a short period of time, and you lose some weight, but it’s difficult to keep up, so you just end up going back to what you did before and the weight goes back on,” he said.

Difficult to Reset Body with Short Withdrawl

Those who partake in Dry January hope it will work like some kind of detox aimed at helping their liver. However, the doctor argues this is nothing more than a myth.

Man dressed in blue and green shirt refuses to drink

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“The reality is, you can’t simply reset or detox the impacts of alcohol on your health in a month,” said Dr. Alasdair.

Find Ways to Reduce Alcohol Consumption in the Long Run

Dr. Alasdair argues that instead of trying to cut out alcohol solely for a single month, try to reduce overall consumption in the long run. 

A man dressed in a white shirt stares at four shot glasses

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“Whilst cutting out alcohol for one month will leave you feeling much more energized and will help you to sleep better, there is very little benefit if you then continue to drink heavily once January is over,” he said.


Make It the Start of a New Lifestyle

According to the doctor, going “dry” isn’t the best approach. Instead, he advises using the month of January to kickstart a new lifestyle where drinking is reduced, which will have much better long-term effects on overall health.

Fruit beautifully displayed on a white ceramic bowl with other healthy food surrounding it.

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“Dry January could be the start of a new lifestyle in which less alcohol is consumed. If those new behaviors are maintained, it doesn’t even need to be ‘dry,’” said the doctor.


Alcohol Can Be Incorporated Into a Healthy Lifestyle

According to Doctor Alasdair, everyone should be aware of the potential harm overconsumption of alcohol can take on the body. It increases the risk of breast and bowel cancer as well as dementia. 

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However, Doctor Alasdair still claims that alcohol use is “absolutely compatible with a healthy lifestyle” so long as it’s sparingly enjoyed.


Doctor Offers His Best Tips

One of the best ways the doctor believes everyone can reduce the negative effects of alcohol is by enjoying it with food.

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“Educating yourself on the best wines to accompany certain foods, for example, will mean you have a better understanding and appreciation for the taste of the drink, rather than just the ‘feeling’ alcohol gives you,” he said.


20-Minute Rule

Another of his best tips is centered around the magic 20-minute rule. According to the doctor, if you wait 20 minutes between each drink, you will considerably drop the amount of alcohol consumed in one session.

A man dressed in a nice shirt enjoys a single beer as he sits at a wooden bar

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“Having this time to pause in between drinks will allow you to process whether you are, in fact, craving more or if you actually feel tired and as though you’ve had enough,” he said.


Avoid Drinking Every Day

Not drinking every day is one of the best ways to battle against the long-term effects of alcohol.

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“Try opting for one or two small glasses of wine on a Friday and Saturday evening instead of a large glass every day,” said Dr. Alasdair.


Exercise More

Exercise can be one of the best methods to cut down alcohol consumption at the weekend. According to the doctor, “Many people binge drink more on a weekend because they know they don’t have to get up for work in the morning.”

A group of people partake in a small yoga class in a wooden studio

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He continued, “However, booking an exercise class for a Saturday or Sunday morning will mean you’re less likely to drink the evening before as you’ll know you need to wake up and feel refreshed,” he said.