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Why Dry January? Tips, Recipes, and Reasons to Try It

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Photo: Ylanite Koppens for Pexels

As people start to enact their New Year’s resolutions—keeping in mind a spike in (unhealthy) drinking behavior since the COVID-19 pandemic—you might hear more family and friends say they need a break from alcohol. Last year, one in five Americans participated in Dry January, and those numbers are expected to rise for 2021.

If done correctly, participating in Dry January can be a healthy way to kick off the new year. Unlike many health fads, taking part in this popular annual tradition is harmless and can actually do wonders for your health, especially if you’re properly hydrating with water. These are some the benefits:

  • Recover and reset: Saying no to alcohol for a month allows your liver to recover and the body, as a whole, to detoxify. Because the liver is the body’s biochemical manufacturer, it processes everything you eat and drink. Giving your body time to recover without intake of alcohol (a toxin) allows for the liver to catch up and properly break down fats and hormones. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight: When you drink alcohol, you’re essentially putting empty calories and refined sugars into your body. This is especially true for sugary cocktails. So, when you give your body a break from alcohol, you’re not only taking a break from the extra calories and sugar, but you’re also giving your body extra time to break these molecules down. 
  • Decrease your risk of diabetes, elevated blood pressure, and breast cancer: These same refined sugars spike the blood sugars and may create resistance to insulin’s ability to control them. This ultimately leads to diabetes. In addition, women who drink two or more alcohol beverages a day increase their risk of breast cancer by four-fold. When the liver is busy trying to break down toxins and excess sugars, it becomes overtaxed and cannot process other molecules like estrogen. When the estrogen is not broken down, the body will not be able to activate estrogen receptors in the breast. 
  • Avoid dehydration: The process of breaking down toxins like alcohol creates byproducts such as aldehydes, which dehydrate the body. So, when you don’t drink alcohol, your body won’t create these byproducts. A break from alcohol alone, however, does not guarantee adequate hydration. 

Say Yes to H20 

Proper hydration is one of the most vital ingredients for optimal health, yet an estimated 70 percent of the population is dehydrated at a subclinical level. Water truly interconnects everything—our immune system, circulatory system, neurological system, digestive system, and more. It optimizes liver, kidney, and immune function and maintains proper mucus production. Instead of simply opting to stay dry this January, bolster the actual quantity of water that you are drinking on a daily basis. Staying hydrated can improve mental health and boost skin health. It even helps with weight loss, because water provides dietary satiety or the feeling of fullness after we eat.

Because our bodies are constantly balancing with our physical surroundings, metabolism, and physiological requirements, maintaining rehydration is key. But how do we do that? 

  • Calculate how much water you should drink each day: You’ve probably heard the old adage of drinking eight glasses (8 ounces) of water a day to stay hydrated. However, this is outdated and does not account for the fact that hydration is a very personal thing. Instead, use a body weight-based starting point: drink an ounce of water per pound of body weight then increase the volume until your urine is light yellow or clear and your urination frequency is around every three hours.
  • Drink alkaline water: Alkaline water, like Essentia Water, is even better at helping with hydration. Hydrating with electrolytes (found in alkaline water) allows the body to “self-clean” in a process called autophagy. The results following the first-ever hydration study of its kind showed that hydrating with Essentia water was more effective than rehydrating with a leading bottled water.
  • Rehydration: However you choose to hydrate, keep in mind that you can’t chase rehydration. It takes 24 hours of rehydration to top off your tank, so you have to plan a day ahead of time. This is why it’s important to get in the habit of drinking enough water so that your body isn’t playing catch up. 

Opt for Non-Alcoholic Cocktails

Staying hydrated and avoiding alcohol doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun whether that’s a night of fancy cocktails or enjoying a tasty beverage. These four top-notch mocktails are equally delicious and perfect for curbing those alcoholic cravings. Here’s how you can make them for yourself:

THE ESSENTIA(L) SPRITZ

This refreshing cocktail is a Tom Collins with a twist curated by The Apartment Bartender and Essentia Water. 

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Brewed Green Tea as Non-Alcoholic option to a clear spirit 
  • 1 oz Lemon juice
  • 2 oz soda water 
  • 3/4 oz – Spiced-cranberry syrup
    • 1 cup fresh cranberries
    • 1 cup Essentia water
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 to 3 cinnamon sticks
    • 2 whole cloves (optional)
    • 2 star anise (optional)

Spiced-cranberry Syrup Instructions: In a medium saucepan, bring all ingredients except sugar to a light simmer until spices start to release aromas and cranberries start to split. Add sugar and stir to dissolve (no need to bring to a boil). Set aside and let cool. Strain into a glass jar and save in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. 

Prep Steps:

  • Combine all ingredients, except for the soda water, into a cocktail shaker, and shake with ice. 
  • Strain the drink into a Collins glass over ice, and top with soda water. 
  • Gently stir to combine and garnish with speared cranberries and a rosemary sprig.

STRAWBERRY ESSENTIARITA

Take your tastebuds on a trip to paradise today, and avoid a nasty hangover tomorrow. 

Ingredients:

  • 10 strawberries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup Essentia water
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sparkling water
  • Ice
  • Salt (for the rim of the glass)
  • Lime for garnish (cut into wheels)

Prep Steps:

  • Place the strawberries, orange juice, Essentia water, lime juice, and ice into your blender.
  • Blend on medium-high until it reaches a slushy consistency, add in ice as necessary.
  • Add the salt to the rim of your glass.
  • Add the sparkling water to fill 1/4 of the glass.
  • Pour the strawberry mix into the glass, garnish with a lime wheel, and serve.

GINGER BASIL GRAPEFRUIT ESSENTIA SPRITZER

Enjoy the same sweet taste but limit your sugar intake by substituting with Stevia. Learn more about the health benefits of Stevia here

Ingredients:

  • 1 grapefruit; plus additional grapefruit for garnish
  • 2 cups of ice
  • 1/2 can of ginger soda (6oz)
  • 1/2 cup Essentia water
  • 1 handful of fresh basil
  • 1 packet of Stevia

Prep Steps:

  • Juice one large grapefruit and segment additional grapefruit for garnish, if preferred.
  • Fill a tall glass halfway with ice. 
  • Pour the soda, fresh grapefruit juice, and Stevia. Mix well.
  • Add Essentia water and garnish with grapefruit slices and fresh basil.

ESSENTIA NON-ALCOHOLIC SANGRIA (PITCHER)

Treat yourself to a beverage that’s guilt-free, fresh, and flavorful. 

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups white grape juice
  • 2 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 1/2 cans seltzer water
  • 1 bottle Essentia water
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 granny smith apple
  • 1/2 honeycrisp apple
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 orange
  • 1/2 cup strawberries

Prep Steps:

  1. Cut up the fruit in small wedges and add to a pitcher.
  2. To the fruit, add the juice, Essentia Water, and seltzer water.
  3. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
  4. Serve in a glass full of ice. 
About The Author
Dr. Holsworth

With more than 20 years of experience in the medical profession, Ralph is director of clinical and scientific research for Essentia Water, the pioneer of ionized alkaline bottled water in the U.S. He oversees research and development, such as laboratory studies and clinical trials, and advises on topics including hydration, whole blood viscosity, and alkaline diet, among others. Ralph is a board-certified osteopathic family physician and currently serves as an emergency medicine physician at Miners Colfax Medical Center in Raton, NM. He is also an honorary professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.