Cheers to Change — A FORMIS’ TAKE on #Dry-January.

FORMIS | HEALTHCARE, MADE SIMPLE.
FormisPulse
9 min readJan 18, 2024

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Welcome to January, the month of new beginnings and, for some, a month of no ‘cheers’! In India, we’re not strangers to abstaining for religious or health reasons, but Dry January adds a global twist to this concept. For the uninitiated, Dry January involves giving up alcohol for the first month of the year, a practice that’s as challenging as convincing your parents that starting a start-up is a good idea.

The Origins of Dry January

Dry January began in the UK in 2014, courtesy of Alcohol Change UK. It’s like a New Year’s resolution but focused solely on ditching alcohol. Initially, it was more of a British affair, but like their famous Beatles, this movement too had a global appeal. And before you knew it, Dry January was a thing in India, giving our beloved Old Monk and Kingfisher some time off.

The Indian Twist to Dry January

In India, Dry January has a different flavor, quite literally. We’re the land of spices and diversity, so why should our approach to Dry January be any different? Let’s face it — in a country where a family gathering is incomplete without Uncle Sharma’s homemade whiskey and where office parties mean endless rounds of ‘cheers’, taking on Dry January is like going to a wedding and saying no to paneer.

Evidence-Based Benefits — A Doctor’s Perspective

Let’s get a bit serious and talk science. What do doctors say about Dry January? Well, they’re not prescribing Kingfisher instead of Crocin, that’s for sure. Doctors worldwide, including our very own Indian medical maestros, have observed significant health benefits. From weight loss to improved liver function — the perks are as real as the traffic jams in Bengaluru.

A Mayo Clinic expert warns about the risks of rebound binging post-Dry January and suggests making sustainable changes rather than abrupt ones. Moreover, according to Cleveland Clinic, benefits like clearer skin, a healthier glow, and possible weight loss are visible signs of improvement. But it’s not all roses; they also caution about withdrawal symptoms, especially for heavy drinkers. It’s like playing a game of carrom — precision and caution are key.

“Dr. Sanjay Gupta (a popular name in medicine, and no, not the CNN guy), an Indian cardiologist, points out the benefits of abstaining from alcohol, even temporarily. He notes improvements in liver function, cardiovascular health, and even mental clarity. However, he also cautions about the potential for withdrawal symptoms in regular drinkers and emphasizes the need for medical guidance for those with a heavy drinking habit.”

Real Stats, Real Impact

Numbers don’t lie, especially if they’re not from a politician. Dry January might seem like a social media trend, but the stats paint a different picture. For instance, a survey conducted by the University of Sussex found that 88% of participants saved money, 71% slept better, and 58% lost weight. The best part? 82% of participants felt a sense of achievement. It’s like hitting a six in a cricket match, but for your health. These aren’t just numbers; they’re victories, small and big, against the bottle. In India, where work-life balance is as elusive as a peaceful auto ride in Delhi, these stats speak volumes about the potential benefits of a booze-free month.

Participants’ Experiences — The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

“Rahul, a 30-year-old IT professional from Bengaluru, shared his experience, ‘The first week was tougher than explaining a bug to a client. But by the end, I was sleeping better and saved enough to buy those headphones I wanted.’ Meanwhile, Priya, a teacher from Mumbai, admitted, ‘I missed my weekend wine, but my skin never looked better.’ Their experiences underline a common thread — initial struggle followed by noticeable benefits.”

Alcohol and Its Many ‘Gifts’ to Your Body

Alcohol, while a staple in many social settings, is not without its consequences. It affects almost every organ in the body. Dr. Anjali Malik, a gastroenterologist from New Delhi, explains, ‘Regular heavy drinking can lead to chronic diseases like liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, and even certain types of cancer.’ She also notes the often-overlooked impact of alcohol on mental health, including depression and anxiety.

Brain: “The Mind Bender”

  • Formis’ Take: Alcohol loves your brain like a clingy friend — initially fun but eventually exhausting. It’s a party crasher in the neural gala, leading to slowed reactions (no, it’s not just your slow internet), impaired memory (forgetting your own birthday kind of scene), and in extreme cases, permanent brain damage (because who needs all those brain cells, right?). Drink responsibly unless you plan to forget where you parked your car — permanently.

Kidney: “The Overworked Filters”

  • Formis’ Take: These bean-shaped bodyguards get a tough time filtering out the happy hours. Alcohol dehydrates you (hello, never-ending thirst), disrupts the kidney’s ability to maintain the right balance of water and electrolytes, and increases the risk of kidney disease. It’s like making your kidneys run a marathon without training.

Lungs: “The Breath Snatcher”

  • Formis’ Take: Alcohol doesn’t directly mess with your lungs, but it’s like that distant relative who still causes trouble. It weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to lung infections like pneumonia. Deep breaths, unless your lungs are busy fighting off the effects of your last party.

Liver: “The Silent Sufferer”

  • Formis’ Take: Ah, the liver — the silent warrior against the alcohol onslaught. Regular heavy drinking leads to fatty liver, inflammation, and the dreaded cirrhosis. It’s like forcing your liver into a boxing ring, blindfolded and with both hands tied behind its back.

Intestine: “The Digestive Drama”

  • Formis’ Take: Alcohol doesn’t just burn your wallet; it burns your intestines too. It messes with your digestion, leading to issues like gastritis and even ulcers. Think of it as throwing a spicy curry party in your gut, but everyone’s invited, and nobody’s happy.

Libido: “The Love Dampener”

  • Formis’ Take: While a drink might seem like a love potion, it’s often a romance dampener. Excessive drinking can lead to decreased libido and performance issues. It’s like promising a romantic Bollywood dance but ending up with an awkward shuffle.

Relationships: “The Social Rollercoaster”

  • Formis’ Take: Alcohol might be the life of the party, but it’s also the instigator of arguments and misunderstandings. It’s the uninvited guest that turns a friendly chat into a dramatic soap opera episode. Handle with care, unless you’re auditioning for a reality show.

Muscles and Joints: “The Unwelcomed Workout”

  • Formis’ Take: Ever felt achy after a drinking spree? That’s alcohol giving your muscles and joints an unwanted workout. It can lead to inflammation and weakness, like forcing your body into a gym session after a marathon. Remember, your muscles need TLC, not TLC (Tequila, Lime, and Cointreau).

Safe Alcohol Consumption Limits and Benefits

While Dry January focuses on abstinence, it’s also essential to discuss safe drinking limits. According to Dr. Gupta, ‘Moderate drinking, defined as up to one drink per day for women and two for men, might have certain heart benefits and can be part of a healthy lifestyle.’ However, he emphasizes that these benefits do not encourage non-drinkers to start drinking.

Mocktails: Your New Best Friends

Who says a Dry January has to be dull? Enter Mocktails — the superheroes of sobriety. These non-alcoholic beverages are not just about mixing fruit juices; they’re about creativity, flavor, and fun. From a spicy Virgin Mary to a tangy Nojito, mocktails offer the enjoyment of mixing and sipping drinks without the morning-after regrets.

Let’s add some color and flavor to Dry January with a vibrant array of mocktail recipes.

1. Sunrise Surprise

  • Color & Fruit: Orange & Mango
  • Formis’ Twist: “Imagine a sunrise that doesn’t involve you waking up early. This mocktail combines fresh orange juice and mango puree, topped with a splash of soda. It’s like sipping on a tropical vacation, minus the sunburn.”

2. Berry Blast

  • Color & Fruit: Red & Mixed Berries
  • Formis’ Twist: “It’s a berry explosion without the cleanup. Muddle some fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, mix in lemonade, and voila! It’s like a fruit salad went to a party in a glass.”

3. Green Garden Delight

  • Color & Fruit: Green & Kiwi
  • Formis’ Twist: “Who knew being green could taste this good? Blend kiwi with mint and a hint of lime. It’s refreshing, tangy, and will make you feel like you’re on a health retreat (but more fun).”

4. Tropical Sunset

  • Color & Fruit: Yellow & Pineapple
  • Formis’ Twist: “Bring the beach to your balcony with this pineapple paradise. Mix pineapple juice, coconut water, and a dash of grenadine. It’s like a sunset in a glass, minus the sand in your shoes.”

5. Purple Rain

  • Color & Fruit: Purple & Grapes
  • Formis’ Twist: “This grape-infused wonder is royalty in a glass. Muddle grapes with a bit of sugar, add sparkling water and a squeeze of lime. It’s sophisticated, it’s elegant, it’s basically the prince of mocktails.”

6. Blue Lagoon

  • Color & Fruit: Blue & Blueberries
  • Formis’ Twist: “Dive into this deep blue sea of flavor. Blend blueberries with lemonade and a hint of mint. It’s like finding a treasure trove of taste.”

7. Ruby Red Refresher

  • Color & Fruit: Pink & Watermelon
  • Formis’ Twist: “Cool down with this watermelon wonder. Blend fresh watermelon, add a splash of ginger ale, and garnish with mint. It’s like a summer picnic in every sip.”

8. Coral Charm

  • Color & Fruit: Coral & Peach
  • Formis’ Twist: “Get charmed by this peachy sensation. Mix peach nectar with a bit of lemon juice and top with sparkling water. It’s sweet, it’s bubbly, and it’s blushing just for you.”

9. Golden Glory

  • Color & Fruit: Gold & Passion Fruit
  • Formis’ Twist: “Experience the richness of golden hour. Combine passion fruit pulp, orange juice, and a splash of soda. It’s exotic, it’s vibrant, and it’s your liquid gold.”

10. Midnight Mystery

  • Color & Fruit: Dark & Blackcurrant
  • Formis’ Twist: “Embrace the dark side deliciously. Mix blackcurrant syrup with soda and a twist of lemon. It’s mysterious, it’s intriguing, and it’s the perfect end to your day.”

Conclusion: To Drink or Not to Drink

As Dry January gains momentum in India, it invites us to reconsider our relationship with alcohol. Whether it’s a pause for health, a challenge for self-discipline, or just for fun, it’s a personal journey with public health implications. So, as you ponder over your next drink, remember, moderation is key, and sometimes, the best company for your glass might just be a fresh slice of lime and some water or maybe a honey drizzled green tea.

#BeAFormisable #TheChangeMakers #DryJanuary

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