Live healthier: Damp instead of Dry January? Doctor: “With every sip of alcohol you lose your life”

January is coming to an end and with it the dry season.

Live healthier: Damp instead of Dry January? Doctor: “With every sip of alcohol you lose your life”

January is coming to an end and with it the dry season. “Dry January” is the name of the premise that more and more people have been following in this country in recent years. Between champagne celebrations on New Year's Eve and boozy swaying at Carnival, not a drop of alcohol is drunk in the first month of the year.

Dr. Dr. knows how worthwhile it is to give up alcohol, even temporarily. Rainer Günther. He is a senior physician and deputy director of the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstei, where Günther heads the department of hepatology. In short: few people in Germany know as much about the liver as this man.

Günther unsurprisingly likes the popularity of Dry January: "If someone really goes through with this month, they will notice that they feel fitter and sleep better. The stomach lining will also no longer produce as much acid." In overweight people who already have a fatty liver, the risk of cirrhosis, i.e. hardening of the liver, would also be greatly reduced.

Günther attests that Western Europe has a fatty liver epidemic. In Germany, 30 percent of the overweight population already suffers from it. Alcohol attacks the body in two ways: through its toxic effects and its high calorie content. “The first organ affected is the liver,” says the hepatologist. "The liver does not cause pain, its pain is fatigue." Symptoms only appear late, but any fat in the liver would automatically lead to liver cirrhosis.

Now it should be common knowledge that alcohol does not necessarily have healthy effects on the body. According to Rainer Günther, in addition to the obvious abstinence, a key strength of 'Dry January' is that many people actually consciously confront their own alcohol consumption.

Now the next social media trend is already spilling over to us from the United States, namely 'Damp January'. “Damp” means something like “to weaken something”. During 'Damp January', the aim is not to stop drinking alcohol at all, but rather to reduce consumption in a targeted and effective manner. The idea is that this could possibly reach all those who drink alcohol regularly and above average - and who can be persuaded to have a beer or a glass of wine over the course of January, despite protestations to the contrary.

You won't be able to avoid all the risks of illness with 'Damp January', but the concept still trains you to consciously say “no” to beer or wine. And the more you practice it, the easier it becomes over time.

Also Dr. Despite all his professionalism, Günther can come to terms with the idea of ​​not living a completely abstinent life. "If you enjoy drinking a little wine in the evening, you will immediately feel the need for it again at the next opportunity - realizing that is crucial," explains the senior physician. 'Damp January' serves the same crucial psychological aspect, the confrontation with one's own consumption, which may have become normal. “The goal must still be to reduce alcohol consumption in the long term,” says Günther. It could help to set clear limits on the days on which you drink alcohol, or perhaps even keep a diary about your own alcohol consumption.

So what does a healthy and long-term realistic approach to alcohol look like? Until a few years ago, even the Federal Center for Health Education assumed that half a liter of beer a day was not healthy, but still low-risk. “There is no such thing as healthy alcohol consumption,” replies Dr. Rainer Günther on it. "With every sip of alcohol you lose a certain amount of your life. Everyone has to decide for themselves whether they want to live a shorter, enjoyable life or grow old healthily."

Therefore, the expert advises: "No alcohol is the best alcohol, but any reduced alcohol is the first step to a healthier life." 'Damp January' should not be seen as a lazy excuse. The doctor also admits that completely abstaining from alcohol is still not really compatible in our society. He always gets strange looks when he doesn't drink alcohol at a social event.

In the long term, however, you should still have the goal in mind of avoiding alcohol completely. It might be worth it: "If you don't drink alcohol for a year or more, you have very little residual risk of developing one of the 200 complications associated with regular alcohol consumption, such as colon cancer or breast cancer."

Sources: New York Times, NDR, RBB, BZgA