It’s easy to mock the transient teetotalers who forsake booze for January (particularly when they fall over after a pint and a half on Feburary 1), but new research might make you choke on your Guinness. When 10 members of the staff of New Scientist magazine swore off alcohol for five weeks they saw their blood cholesterol level drop by almost five per cent and a 15% reduction in liver fat.
Fat accumulation on the liver is a known prelude to liver damage, so reversing this process provides far more health benefits than a faster disappearing festive paunch. “[Fat accumulation] is the harbinger first for temporary scarring called fibrosis and ultimately a non-reversible type of scarring that destroys liver structure, called cirrhosis,” said Rajiv Jalan, who conducted the research at the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at University College London Medical School.
Ordering yet another OJ under the collective gaze of your rugby teammates isn’t a walk in the park, but it’s worth it in the long run. “It is helpful to think of willpower like a muscle that weakens if you don’t use it but gets stronger when you do,” says Dr Matt Field, professor of psychological science at the University of Liverpool. Discover how to utilise your finite store of willpower most effectively here.
After completing their challenge the mag staffers found it easier to decline alcohol, so even after a couple of celebratory benders (go on, you deserve it) a dry January will confer long-term psychological benefits.