Dry January – give your hormones a break
There is a reason that so many people partake in Dry January after overindulging during the holiday season, it's a great way to start the year and compensate for the excesses of the previous month. Abstaining from alcohol alone for a month, does have noticeable benefits, but alcohol is only one of the key culprits that cause a slew of significant reactions in the body and mind, particularly in women over 40.
Gender and hormones matter
Women metabolize alcohol differently to men - we have less water in the body to dilute it, more fat to hold on to it and less alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme to break it down, which means that it does more damage. This includes to our hormones - by impacting this system, alcohol can affect blood sugar levels, impair reproductive functions, interfere with calcium metabolism and bone structure and increase the risk of osteoporosis. It can also exacerbate hot flashes, mood swings and insomnia. Read: Is healthy drinking possible?
Other triggers beyond alcohol
However, there are other equally damaging triggers from food and drink other than alcohol that affect our mind, body and long term health - these are gluten, dairy, refined sugars and red meat. As well as inflammatory impacts, these have been shown to cause heart disease (the #1 cause of death among women) and other chronic illnesses, so it is just as important to eat a nutritious, varied and satisfying diet free from these.
Moderation is key to make results sustainable
That said, as you can see from the photo.... I love wine! I also believe in a balanced lifestyle and incorporating the things I love into my diet, in moderation of course. As the rest of my diet is free from those other triggers, it allows me to enjoy wine without experiencing such strong symptoms such as hot flashes, fatigue and light headedness. While giving up alcohol for a month will reap some benefits, it is not a long term solution. Combined with cutting out other key culprits, you can continue to enjoy your drink of choice.
If you have already embarked on Dry January (or still considering it) why don't you join me on my 4 week weight loss program - I guarantee you will look and feel better. You will understand the impact of food and drink on your body and mind and learn how to incorporate the things you love back in, responsibly!