Call us slightly dramatic if you wish, but as the merriment of the festive season comes to an end, January can make you feel like all joy has been zapped from the world. Gone are the pigs-in-blankets, lazy film days and copious amounts of mulled wine, and instead we are met with kale, gruelling fitness regimes and the inevitable Dry January.
Run by the charity Alcohol Concern, Dry January promotes complete abstinence from alcohol for the duration of the first calendar month of the new year. According to research commissioned by alcohol-free beer Budweiser Prohibition Brew, despite approximately 5.6 million Brits in the UK signing up to complete Dry January in 2018, the date that most participants caved was January 20th. In addition, medical experts have expressed concerns that the scheme may only lead to a decidedly wet February, characterised by dangerous binge drinking.
At Living North, we abide by the age-old rule of everything in moderation, and while the benefits for those who successfully undertake Dry January cannot be disputed, Damp January is perhaps a more appealing option for those who are looking to develop a healthier relationship with alcohol in the long term.
The concept of limiting alcohol intake – as opposed to complete deprivation – is something that is supported by UK-wide alcohol education charity, Drink Aware. They state that cutting down on the amount of alcohol you drink as opposed to abstaining from alcohol completely can help bring lots of health benefits, and can be easier to stick to.
While it’s best to avoids beers and spirits if you are looking to move towards a more healthy lifestyle this New Year due to their bloating qualities and high alcohol concentration, research has proven that the occasional glass of wine – particularly red – can offer a multitude of health benefits.
It may help combat heart disease
Research published by the British Heart Foundation shows that around seven million people live with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common, and occurs when coronary arteries become narrowed by a build-up of atheroma (a fatty material) within their walls. Professor Tammy Dugas, of Louisiana State University, has conducted research that suggests red wine may help those who are suffering from the disease. Using the compounds of resveratol and quercetin, she has developed a new stent that releases these red wine antioxidants slowly over time in order to help prevent blood clotting and inflammation.
It may help with diabetes
Studies have shown that drinking a glass of red wine every night may lead to better cholesterol levels amongst those with type 2 diabetes. The research, published by the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that those who drank red wine (142ml) with their dinner over a period of two years had better lipid and glucose control, as opposed to those who drank white wine or mineral water.
It could help prevent cavities
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 92 percent of adults aged 20–64 have dental cavities in their teeth. The problems begin when bacteria in the mouth multiply and produce biofilms, which are communities of bacteria that are highly damaging to the teeth. While brushing and using fluoride toothpaste can be effective in helping rid bacterial plaque, according to a study conducted by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, red wine (as well as grape seed extract) were the most effective in getting rid of this type of bacteria. We’ll cheers to that.
It could banish bed bugs
Adult bed bugs rely on blood to sustain themselves and, once they have feasted, can survive for up to five months without a blood meal. According to research from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, when humans upped their red wine intake, the bed bugs were not so keen to select them as their host. According to the study, bed bugs prefer alcohol-free blood, meaning those who indulge in the odd tipple may experience fewer bug bites as they sleep.
It could cut dementia risk
According to research led by the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany moderately drinking red wine can limit the likelihood of developing dementia in men. The study – which followed participants over the age of 75 years for longer than 10 years – investigated whether a dietary intake of red wine, white wine, coffee, green tea, olive oil, fresh fish, fruits, vegetables and red meat was associated with Alzheimers via a single-food questionnaire. Interestingly, the study concluded that while there was no evidence that most of these food types were protective against cognitive decline, red wine was the exception – which was seen to reduce the risk of Alzheimers in men.