The holidays are over. That extra time with family - and for some, the extra time off from work - created a devil's playground where chocolates, snacks and Grandma's amazing cooking have combined to give you a few extra unwanted pounds. Now it's January, and it's time to join the masses in making the New Year's resolution to lose weight. While it's true that only nine percent of New Year's resolutions actually succeed, it's valiant to dedicate yourself to that new gym membership and that new and improved diet for yourself. Every doctor will applaud any patient's attempt to adopt a healthier lifestyle. As you scour the internet for that skeleton-key diet that will cure your holiday ills, you may come across "cleanses" or "detoxes" as a viable, short-term diet. Every fad-diet-book author will tell you their detox plan is the universal secret to weight loss. But it's also easy to dismiss any fad diet cleanse as ineffective and unhealthy. So, what's the truth? Are cleanses and detoxes good, or bad? The truth is somewhere in the middle. What are 'detoxes and cleanses'? Do they work? Here's the theory: If you eliminate solid foods or specific food groups, your body will be zapped into a state of optimum health, eliminating toxins in your body and re-booting your digestive tract. One plan might tell you to stick to only juice for a few days. Others might tell you to exclusively drink pepper and syrup concoctions. But, don't believe the hype. There is no conclusive medical evidence that such cleanses are effective for long-term weight loss. Any diet that requires severe caloric restriction, short-term or not, will likely decrease energy, may create gastrointestinal distress, or have other unforeseen side effects based on your personal health needs. However, the theories of detox-style diets come from the right place. What 'detoxes' get right Every cleanse has a certain amount of restriction, whether it's to cut carbohydrates or solid foods. But one thing they all have in common - the relative absence of processed food. Many popular processed foods are high in calories and low in nutrition. It's almost always healthier to opt for fresh fruits, vegetables and meats instead of something from a box. So if you know somebody that was successful with a restrictive detox plan, it probably wasn't the magic of fruit juice or cayenne-pepper cocktails. It was more likely that they "cleansed" processed food out of their diet. Even many longer-term "fad diets" share that same fact - the less high-calorie processed foods, the better. One size does not fit all While fact and fiction in the world of dieting is hard to determine, it's a universal truth that everybody is different, and what works for one person may epically fail for another. It is always recommended to consult your doctor before beginning any diet or embarking on any "detox" or "cleanse." Designed by Freepik
There are benefits of Dry January to your health. Dry January is a term used for ditching alcohol in the first month of the new year. Many people celebrate as an annual tradition and mini-detox from the overindulgence during the holidays. Whatever reason you’re taking part in “Dry January” the benefits are great for your health. There's absolutely nothing wrong with abstaining from or limiting your alcohol intake. Excessive drinking and binge drinking can lead to several negative health effects, including weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and can put you at risk for other health risks. Taking one month off from drinking may not turn back the clock, but it will help you learn where your body is in relation to alcohol and can help your overall health and wellbeing. If you’re starting your Dry January alcohol hiatus, consider taking a look at how much you actually consume when not abstaining and how it can positively affect your health. If you're having several drinks a week, one of the main benefits of dry January could be a decrease in your overall calories, since a standard drink typically has around 150 calories. If you're trying to lose weight, cutting alcohol is one way to do it without compromising any of the fuel and nutrients your body needs. Alcohol contributes calories but doesn't make us feel more satisfied—it often amps up hunger. Also, since alcohol has a dehydrating effect, it can also contribute to bloating, judgement impairment,and could lead you to make poor food choices contributing to weight gain. If you’re feeling the need to clear your mind, focus and improve your sleep and digestion, avoiding alcohol can help you feel more energetic and stay motivated. It can help you get your workouts in and stick to overall healthy eating habits. And the fact that you're not going to the bar can lead to sleeping more, getting up at a decent hour and skipping fewer workouts. Your immune system can also improve with the absence of alcohol. When it comes to your immune system, positive health habits may be more influential than just abstaining from alcohol. Too much alcohol can acutely suppress immune function making you more vulnerable to pathogens, while chronic drinking can lead to inflammatory reactions throughout the body. Additionally, while there isn't data to suggest that ditching booze can protect you from the flu, it's reasonable to assume that drinking less, sleeping more and exercising more can all have a positive influence on your immune system. Dry January will give your liver a break, decreasing the metabolic stress that alcohol puts on the liver. Approximately half of all liver disease deaths are from alcoholic liver disease. As long as you don't use Dry January as an excuse to drink however much you want the other 11 months of the year, it will have positive impacts on most parts of your life and can help improve your health for months to come. Check in with yourself before your first February toast and see if you can keep the momentum for the remainder of 2019.