Signing on for Dry January can reset more than just your relationship with alcohol​

Illustration for Dry January Image source: Viktoria Hnatiuk / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Illustration for Dry January Image source: Viktoria Hnatiuk / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Signing on for Dry January can reset more than just your relationship with alcohol

Each January, more and more people decide to commit to a month without alcohol. This year, it is estimated that one in ten drinkers will try Dry January. But does quitting booze for a month really make a difference to our health and should you take part in this new tradition? 

If you approach Dry January thoughtfully, it can feel less like a fad and more like an opportunity to reset. Dry January can help you commit to a New Year’s resolution to cut back on alcohol after a month of indulgences.The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines moderate drinking as up to four alcoholic drinks for men and three for women in any single day and a maximum of 14 drinks for men and seven drinks for women per week. 

Dropping alcohol for one month can lower blood pressure, improve your insulin resistance, and reduce blood levels of a signaling protein linked to cancer, according to a small study. People who quit drinking for a month also find it easier afterward. Additionally, refraining from alcohol will relieve metabolic stress on your liver — as about half of all liver disease deaths are from alcoholic liver disease. It can also positively affect your sleep habits, immune system, and help reduce anxiety. 

However, it’s important to remember that abstaining from alcohol for one month will not make up for eleven months of binge drinking. The true health benefits associated with cutting out alcohol are based on long term abstinence. 

The biggest benefits of Dry January, a short period of abstinence, are psychological or psychosocial ones. If you think your regular (or excessive) drinking habits might be contributing to how you are feeling (mentally, physically, socially, etc.), removing alcohol can give you the perspective you need to make sustainable, healthy changes. 

While Dry January won’t directly cure your depression, stepping back from your nightly drinks can provide the distance you need to assess your motivation for drinking. When not self-medicating, you’ll be in a better position to recognize that you might need help from a doctor or therapist. 

When you remove alcohol from social situations, does it change how you want to spend your time? Are you ordering that mimosa at brunch because you like it…or because that’s the expectation in your friend group? How much is external pressure part of your alcohol consumption? It’s hard to critically observe these situations when you’re in the middle of them. Taking a step back always helps, and Dry January gives you an excuse, if you need one, to observe the dynamics of your personal relationships. 

Like cutting out any other harmful substance in our lives, focusing more on what we gain — rather than what we lose — is key to success. Participating in Dry January can provide you with clarity and inspire you to make larger positive life changes.   

The Future of Fitness Explained: a primer on MCT oil and some of its supposed benefits

MCT oil in front of a coconut / Image source: Healthline

MCT oil in front of a coconut / Image source: Healthline

The Future of Fitness Explained: a primer on MCT oil and some of its supposed benefits

If you love to learn about new exercise and fitness trends, The Future of Fitness explains it to you in a way you can understand and separate the hype cycle from actual results.

You may have heard of MCT oil as the silver bullet to supercharge your exercise routine, brain power, weight loss, fight Alzeheimer’s disease, and decrease sugar cravings. It provides you with energy and puts you into ketosis (see The Future of Fitness Explained: The Keto Diet if you need a refresher on Ketones and Ketosis). But MCT oil has also been accused of causing unpleasant side effects and has been called an expensive health trend whose only effect is taking your money.

What is MCT oil? Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are partially man-made fats. MCTs are made by processing coconut and palm kernel oils in the laboratory. Because of the shorter chain length of the fatty acids, MCTs are rapidly broken down and absorbed into the body. Unlike longer-chain fatty acids, MCTs go straight to the liver and can be used as an instant energy source or turned into ketones. Unlike regular fatty acids, ketones can cross from the blood to the brain. This provides an alternative energy source for the brain, which ordinarily uses glucose for fuel.

How can I use MCT oil? You can’t cook with MCT oil, owing to its low smoke point, which is far lower than most commonly used oils. It is most often taken as a dietary supplement. MCT oil is flavourless, tasteless, and colourless. This means it can be added to salads in dressings or used in beverages.

Does it work? MCT oil has been called a super fuel since your body absorbs MCTs more rapidly than long-chain triglycerides. They can be quickly broken down and they can be used as an immediate source of energy. This can create the mental sense of clarity that many people experience when using MCT oil. When it comes to weight-loss claims, some research suggests that replacing other dietary fats with MCT oil may be beneficial. However, MCT oil is high in calories. A tablespoon of MCT oil contains 14g of fat, 100% of which is saturated and 115 calories. Benefits like detoxification and improved athletic performance are supported by little, mixed, or no evidence.

Should I Try It? It’s very rare that I tell people to stay away from a product. But for some people, myself included, MCT oil can cause significant gastrointestinal distress. You might have seen the word “liver” in almost every paragraph of this summary. High doses of MCT oil may increase the amount of fat in your liver in the long term. That’s why MCT oil is not appropriate for people with liver damage or disease. If you have any liver or gallbladder issues, you should stay away from anything that includes MCT or uses the word “bulletproof” in its name or labelling.

If you know your health history and haven’t experienced these types of issues, you can consult with your doctor or see how your body reacts. If you feel uncomfortable, stop immediately.

More Information Please!

Try these links and get educated about the pros and cons of MCT oil: