Dry January: Mindful drinking tips & healthy mocktails from a functional doctor

To stay healthy and mentally sharp, you should embrace a Dry January this year, says Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson, bestselling author of Glow: 90 Days to Create Your Vibrant Life from Within and a recognized leader in functional and integrative medicine.

Alcohol is damaging to the brain and excessive drinking can lead to irregular heart rhythms, coined as “holiday heart syndrome”. Immune function and liver function can be affected, as well as your mental health. Add in the extra calories and sugar from drinks with very little nutrition, and the advice is clear: make every decision to drink a purposeful and considered decision.

Taking a month off for Dry January can significantly improve your cognitive functioning, memory, and sleep quality. Dry January reshapes your cravings for alcohol, changes your neurotransmitter levels, and improves cerebral circulation in areas of the brain that have been impaired by these toxic substances.

Try the Rule of Halves, a moderation technique to cut your vices. Cutting out vices cold-turkey can be tough, so the Rule of Halves starts with 50%: one glass of wine instead of two, a single shot instead of a double. After you’ve adjusted to the new amount, you can cut your vice in half again, then again, etc. until you have eliminated it from your life. Another easy way to cut back is by crafting healthy mocktails, and Dr. Stephenson has plenty of delicious recipes using fresh ingredients:

Mindful Margarita – antioxidant boost of vitamin C from lime and grapefruit, as well as calming, anti-anxiety properties in cilantro
Sweet and Serene Sangria – non-alcoholic red wine, cranberry juice, orange juice, apples, plums, and oranges make this drink burst with vitamin C and other free-radical-wrecking antioxidants, as well as flavonoids like resveratrol that have anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering, blood-sugar-stabilizing, brain-strengthening properties
Guiltless Gin and Tonic – go heavy on the freshly squeezed lime juice, which will dose you with immune-backing vitamin C, as well as calcium and potassium

Apple Ginger Crush – full of soluble fiber (helps keep you regular and bring down cholesterol) and brimming with polyphenols with anti-inflammatory properties

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