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Dry January

January comes with New Year’s resolutions and most everyone is typically opting to start the brand-new year on a fresh, healthy, and clean slate. Many people opt to go “dry” for the first month in an attempt to give their bodies, (and livers in particular), a chance to refresh and renew.

“Dry January,” actually originated as a public health initiative that was first launched in the UK back in 2013 by the group Alcohol Change UK. Their challenge to the public is to remove alcohol from your diet completely for 31 days. 

A recent study in May 2020 conducted jointly by departments within the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Maryland discovered that participants reported drinking 12.2 days out of 30 days and over the course of those days, consumed an average of 26.8 alcoholic drinks. While this was only one small study (832 respondents), it still showcases the prevalence of alcohol in our daily lives.

Cutting out alcohol, even for short periods of time, can be extremely beneficial to one’s overall health. Studies have shown that those who opt to abstain for a brief period report weight loss, improved sleep, better mood, boosted energy levels and physical activity, and consumption of a healthier diet. Medical research also notes that with decreased alcohol consumption, growth factors related to cancer, insulin resistance, and blood pressure also decrease, in addition to reducing liver fat and blood sugar. 

Women, especially, can benefit from a reduction in alcohol intake. While more men still die from alcohol consumption, women’s habits are worsening. Studies by the CDC published very recently – July 2023 – note that women have been increasing their drinking at a higher rate than men, binge drinking has increased, which in turn means that women’s alcohol-related mortality rate has also risen – by 14.7% compared to 12.7% of men. Unfortunately, women tend to develop medical complications from alcohol in a shorter timespan than men. This is partly due to the fact that women’s bodies metabolize alcohol slower than men, and thus the toxic effects of alcohol stay in the body for longer and organs, such as the liver, heart, brain, and pancreas, suffer.

Much to everyone’s surprise, it is also not college-age women who are binge-drinking the most. It is women who are 40-65 years of age, and who are on the higher end of the socioeconomic scale – meaning women with higher incomes, with advanced education, and who have high-ranking jobs. Binge drinking is defined as 5 drinks in one sitting for men, and 4 drinks for women.

  • If you’ve decided to take a bit of a break from beer and alcohol for the month, there are some tips to help ease that transition. 
  • Let your friends and family know about your decision to abstain through the end of January. 
  • Consider “buddying-up” with a friend or loved-one and support each other. 
  • Make sure you have favorite non-alcohol alternatives at home and potentially even planning to bring your own beverages to parties and gatherings for the month. 
  • Practice saying “no, thanks” for when you may be offered a drink. 
  • Consider and pay attention to how your mind and body feel throughout the month. 
  • Institute and practice healthier habits – yoga, walking, hiking, joining a gym, meditation, etc. 
  • Formulate a plan for when February starts. Are you going to return to old habits, no-holds-barred, or are you going to institute some changes or modification to your drinking? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that on any single day, men limit their drinks to 2 or less, and women, 1 or less. 

Lucky for us, today, more than at any time before, there are plenty of great-tasting NA (non-alcoholic) craft beer options!

Athletic Brewing Company is THE big name in the game. Based out of Milford, CT, they are the largest non-alcoholic brewery in the world and boast the most sales of any NA brand. They have also won more than 25 gold medal beer awards – so clearly, the “beer” tastes good! Athletic NA beer happens to be an über popular choice with tons of availability here in Syracuse. You can find this brand in supermarkets, breweries (yes, even our local breweries carry NA beer!), and at a ton of restaurants and eateries about town. 

Recommendation: New Wave IPA – a hazy, New England style, and given “two thumbs up” across the board in flavor and characteristics by beer-guru herself, Gloria Rakowsky of Crafted Minds. Check out Athletic’s website for a whole list of NA beers to choose from (and there are MANY unique offerings – Blueberry Mosaic IPA, First Ride Extra Dark with Coffee, Lemon Radler, etc.) and they will even ship direct to you!

In addition, Guinness, Brooklyn Brewery, and BrewDog, all have great options that are sure to meet the expectations of your craft-beer loving palate during Dry January. Your heart, liver, brain, and pancreas will love them too! Check ‘em out! 


References: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7763183/





Kristin Merritt
Just your average craft-brew loving gal slinging your monthly pour of beer education and the low-down on all things beer related in the immediate CNY area and beyond. Along the way I hope to give a few recommendations for your grocery list, events to attend, and local hotspots to hit-up for shenanigans with friends, ideas for date night, or at the very least enlighten you with a bit of random knowledge to use towards trivia night or simply give you and your teammates a suggestion on what to drink at the bar! Cheers!