January. The month of guilt, detoxing and rain. You probably know several people who are trying to be healthier after the gluttony of Christmas and New Year. Many people try to do this by giving up one of their biggest vices; usually alcohol, caffeine, smoking, junk food or chocolate. But is giving something up for a month actually beneficial to our health?
A recent BBC News Magazine article asked a panel of experts whether or not a month of purging is healthy. The results were quite mixed, but most agreed that a month abstaining from drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or drinking coffee can have noticeable benefits.
Alcohol mainly effects the liver, which is capable of regenerating itself (to an extent). A social drinker would lose a significant proportion of the fat that builds up on the liver after a month of being teetotal, but the effects will only last as long as the person is not drinking alcohol regularly. For a heavy drinker, a month off would be unlikely to affect their health as their liver is already very damaged.
As soon as you stop smoking, the risk of a heart attack decreases by 25%. You will also start to notice the health benefits of being a non-smoker within days. Hands and feet will feel warmer and breathing will improve. You will also have withdrawal symptoms – namely a cough and a general feeling of being low, but these only last a few days. By the end of the month you will feel less stressed and your skin can look up to 10 years younger!
The benefits of giving up coffee for a month are mostly psychological. Many people rely on coffee to get them through the day without even realising it. A month off can show people how dependent they are. At first, withdrawal symptoms will manifest, in the form of headaches and drowsiness, but by the end of the month you will sleep better, feel less ‘jittery’ and feel more balanced.
At the very least, giving up one of these 3 things can be viewed as an experiment, to see if you can cope without it. If you can’t, this suggests you are alcohol, nicotine or caffeine dependent. If you can, consider extending your month of good behaviour. If you can kick the habit for good, your January detox could really lead to you becoming a happier, healthier you!