Dry January and Your Kidneys

Originally starting as a UK charity initiative, a month-long health challenge known as “Dry January” has continued to garner attention in the year since its introduction. Now in its twelfth year, millions of people continue to join in on the challenge year after year. While the original reason for Dry January was to “ditch the hangover, reduce the waistline, and save some serious money by giving up alcohol for 31 days,” health experts have begun to take notice of the significant health benefits that can come from this New Year’s reset. In this blog, we’re explaining these health benefits, including the benefits that Dry January has on your kidney health.

How Alcohol Affects Your Kidneys

To understand the extent of the benefits that Dry January can have on your kidney health, it’s important to understand the relationship between alcohol and your kidneys. In a former Durham Nephrology blog, we provide an in-depth look at this relationship, but here are some key takeaways. Kidneys help filter toxins from your blood while ensuring you retain the right amount of water in your body. When you drink, alcohol affects your kidneys in numerous ways. First, alcohol makes it more difficult for your kidneys to work to filter out of your blood, and it also dehydrates your body, which further hinders the normal function of your cells and organs. 

Regular excessive alcohol consumption has been found to double the risk of developing chronic kidney disease, and these statistics increase when smoking is involved. Heavy drinkers are more likely to develop high blood pressure than non-drinkers, which also adds more strain on your kidney function. Alcohol also has the potential to affect certain high blood pressure medications. By abstaining from alcohol completely, as one does while participating in Dry January, you are avoiding all of the potential kidney health risks that come with drinking alcohol.

Additional Benefits of Dry January

Once Dry January began gaining popularity, researchers began to pay more attention to the outcomes of completing this health challenge. According to a University of Sussex study, nearly 75% of people who participated in Dry January reported better sleep and improved energy levels, and more than half of the participants lost weight throughout the month. Better sleep and higher energy levels can help jumpstart other health goals, such as regular exercise, that can lead to long-term benefits for your kidney health and improve your high blood pressure. The weight loss that is commonly associated with Dry January is also an excellent way to maintain good kidney health, as maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to managing chronic kidney disease and high blood pressure. 

Prioritize Your Health All Year Long

Ultimately, jumpstarting your New Year with Dry January is an excellent way to accomplish your health goals. Allowing yourself the energy and motivation to live a healthier lifestyle is key to generating healthy habits that can last all year. It is recommended that patients with high blood pressure and kidney disease limit their alcohol intake, and Dry January is a good way to start your year off on the right foot. At the end of the day, your general health and wellness directly benefit your kidney health, and avoiding alcohol is a great step to take for your kidneys as well as your full-body health. Make 2024 your healthiest year yet!

At Durham Nephrology, our team is experienced in providing treatment and guidance to kidney patients. If you have questions about taking care of yourself while dealing with kidney disease, or if you would like more information about the relationship between alcohol and kidney disease or high blood pressure, call us at 919-477-3005 to talk to a staff member and make an appointment


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