Am I too late for “Dry January?”

OK, maybe there are more than just 3 reasons to try this out.

I have to admit, I really didn’t hear about “Dry January” until it was nearly too late.

I was asked to do a segment for the TV show Coastal Living as their Wellness expert today and the topic was, “staying sober over the course of January.” It seems that after a hard-partying holiday season some people wanted to detox and made it a national “thang.”

I must have missed the memo but that being stated, It may very well be needed.

You may have noticed over the last couple of years that the holiday season no longer is the week or two that surrounds Christmas and runs into the New Year..    It basically starts a week before Halloween and continues hardcore well into college football bowl season.

I’m sure the original idea of going dry for January is just to try to detox as a whole. So when I was asked to speak on this subject I had to do a little research.  In full disclosure, I really hadn’t partaken.  In alcohol, well yeah, that.  In dry January, though, I hadn’t tried that yet.

 As much as it seems to be self-evident, there are actually a couple pretty interesting facts and some ideas that I found that are unique so I thought I would share.

Here’s my synopsis, take what you want. The only thing I would reiterate is what I tend to preach all the time – It is good to try new things with your body. It is great to experiment with new workouts, new shoes, sleeping in different conditions, cold water immersion, and a variety of things that makes your body change and adapt. 

If for no other reason,  giving up alcohol for a month, is a good experiment for you, YOUR BODY and YOUR BRAIN.

 Alcohol is ubiquitous to fun, partying, sporting events, and social aspects in America. It is a part of social life for most of the planet.    In fact, I remember years ago, while in India with one of my best friends, it almost seemed odd when, at social functions, there wasn’t alcohol flowing everywhere. You couldn’t find it anywhere.   

That’s not really a problem here.  Finding alcohol is kind of..everywhere.

 I think there are 3 reasons a person would want to run a “No-alcohol Experiment.”

  1.  The obvious is as a detox.

This was the most immediate reason I would think anyone would try a detox or dry January.  As I mentioned, the holiday season has become increasingly longer and it doesn’t take much more than the number staring back at you from your bathroom scale, looking at your naked body in the mirror, or seeing the level on your Tylenol bottle continually dropping to realize that a longer holiday season means more Crap in your system.  More Crap = More misery.

There’s not much wiggle room for opinion here, the science is in.  The holiday season produces more stress than any other time of the year. And I don’t think all the stress is due to whiny kids, gifts, travel, and expenses.   A lot of the Holiday Blues are probably because of our body’s reaction to the frosted, sugary, glitter cakes and fudgies that we continually put in it. At no other time in your life do you shovel in this much junk food. Alcohol is one of those junkets.   

 New Year’s resolutions didn’t happen by accident. People wanted a change after a time frame of debauchery and were seeking to kick off the new year fresh and clean.

Over 75% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions that are quickly bombed by the week of the National Championship Football Game (about a week).  Kudos to you if you can make it through a month, but then, watch out because here comes the Super Bowl!    

So why not try a detox for a month and just get your body the chance to recover. I think it’s a great experiment. But use it as such, pay attention. See how you feel. I’m not telling you to make a decision to go sober for life, I’m just telling you to run the experiment and take a fair and unbiased look at the results. If you feel significantly better or lose that last ten lbs or find out that you sleep better and look younger, well, now you have a decision to make. Dry is Data.

  1.  For Health Benefits

Nearly everything I write on this website about diet will tell you I think a gigantic split is coming in the world.

The split is going to be between the healthy and the unhealthy. The majority of the medical expenses on the planet Earth are going to be directed towards the unhealthy with diet being the primary functional indicator.  It already is.  It has been for decades but it’s un-ignorable now.  I think at this point in life, it is fair to just say if you don’t have a pretty good grasp of what is healthy or unhealthy as you are putting it into your mouth you are:

  1. Lying to yourself
  2. Poorly educated and WAY behind the times
  3. Just don’t give a damn

I think a lot of people, other than just for the avoidance of a Hangover, are looking for healthier answers because a healthier life makes for a happier life. The world is becoming more aware of what they put into their body and alcohol has a variety of unhealthy aspects attributed to it. Calories, Hangover, liver function, pukeface, and Poor food decisions-No Doubt. But other ill effects from over-indulgence of alcohol such as slips and falls,  driving accidents,  making out with a stranger, passing out in a bad neighborhood, and waking up in jail.  Poor decisions happen when you’re hammered and although I don’t want to get into this idea with this article, these can and do adversely affect your health.

There are a large number of people looking for non-alcoholic alternatives For any and more of the above-stated health benefits.

  1.  Looking for a new product or different “Buzz.”

 I think this third reason is the one that was the most interesting to me as I dove into research on Dry January.

There is a whole new host of products that have been growing in popularity over the last 5 years that were previously available as elixirs, pills, or potions that have now been popularized into drinks.

 These, are not meant to mimic traditional alcoholic beverages such as rum, gin, and whiskey but are stand-alone as their own mixers.    Typically they will contain Botanicals and other products some of which are nootropic and adaptogenic.

 Nootropics are designed to be brain enhancers. The claim is they work with your neurology to allow for optimal brain function or different brain functions.  Even advertising, “a different kind of buzz”

Adaptogens claim to regulate your hormonal system, mood, relaxation, etc.

What these new products basically are selling to you is a new type of Buzz but not the type that ends with a DUI.

You drink this product and you get a different sensation in your body without a hangover or cognitive dysfunction.   In fact, the opposite, MORE Calm, Happy, Alert but not anxious, Clever, Perceptive etc.

This to me is quite interesting. I have been following the nootropic and adaptogenic waves over the last few years and I’m excited about the idea.   Since the book and subsequent movie “Limitless” with Bradley Cooper, Americans have been looking for this idea and although I’m 100% confident these boozy alternatives are not “smart drugs” I’m interested in what happens in this industry.

I think there is a huge upside for some of these products that still allow for a different sensation while can hold up in a social setting where drinking is expected.   With possibilities that include some practical benefits and no hangover and I can drive home?  Yes, Interested.  

I ordered cans of “KIN” immediately to try this out myself.

I Love the idea, but it’s not the first time a twist has been added to the planet and industry.    There is an inherent problem to watch out for that I want to briefly touch on…again, I ordered some of this product, I’m not anti…I’m practical.

 Because this industry is already growing at an exponential rate and is about to explode as is evident with non-alcoholic clubs and bars showing up next to the local pub and tavern, pills and drinks being sold alongside vitamins and supplements, and NA drinks being offered at your local restaurant, realize that EVEN MORE SO THAN BENEFITS OFFERED TO YOU, there is a lot of money to be made FOR MANUFACTURERS.

 Whenever we start talking about Industries where hundreds of millions are being made per year,  trust that not everybody creating these products has your best intentions in mind.

For every proposed benefit enhancing drink company, there will be a company with the priority to make a dollar.   So although, as I stated earlier, I am positive that there is no magical smart drug, I am also quite confident that these new products will be marketed and labeled as such.

In the same way “Red Bull gives you Wings” I’m positive Madison Avenue marketing geniuses will spin-off these products in this way as a LIMITLESS pill or drink.

Compare this to the health supplement industry of the late 90s.  When the research started coming out showing the positive effects of increased protein, creatine, and additional health benefits, literally 1000 companies were built overnight.

 Reports were rampant about illegal products and performance-enhancing drugs being mixed into the products in order to create a following…and show results.   

 Olympians and professional athletes would contest did they were popping positive drug tests despite the fact they haven’t been taking drugs.

 This is going to happen and already is happening in this adaptogenic drink category.

 Because it is an unregulated industry that falls underneath the supplement and vitamins category basically anything can be put into a drink and claim to be all-natural.

Here is just an easy example I’m going to use to make the point.

I foresee, a bit of unscrupulousness being especially true if you are looking for an alternative Buzz. I’m guessing, that when you go out looking for an alternative buzz you are not talking about illegal drugs. My criteria…You have to be able to drive home legally.

Illegal products are watched, regulated, and land a company in jail, so I don’t think you’re going to find many illegal drugs in your drinks on the store shelf.  

But what about something simple, like caffeine?    That’s really easy to add to any drink.  You can feel the effects immediately.   I’m just using caffeine as an example because anyone that has been to the grocery store or gas station over the last 5 years has noticed that there are 50x more caffeinated beverages available than there were a few years ago. I think this is the direction that these Botanical and non-alcoholic drinks are going to go. The companies are wanting to move products and many of these companies are going to have additives that you can immediately feel.

 This isn’t a warning such as “cigarettes are bad for you.”  It is a moral warning of just pay attention to what you are putting in your body. Like I said, I am all about experimenting and I think this is a very neat direction with some huge potential benefits as it gets sorted out.  Just be careful that when you are looking for an alternative, you aren’t buying a $9 caffeinated drink, that gets you amped up..because those already exist at $2 a can.

To close, I just wanted to give you a quick take on Dry January and 3 reasons you may want to play around with “Dry Alternatives” sober periods of abstaining, or just healthy reasons to cut out alcohol.

As always, I try to share with you some “WHYs” that may not be immediately obvious and some new ideas coming down the pipeline that might interest you.  Non-Alcoholic drinks aren’t going away, they are poised to be a billion-dollar business in the next few years as more and more people are looking for new and different.

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