Men's Health (UK) - - Ask MH - PETE, OX­FORD

Af­ter the in­evitable ex­cesses of the fes­tive sea­son, a month off the sauce seems like a fair pe­nance. Dry Jan­uary does have some ben­e­fits: it’ll likely im­prove your sleep, while a study from Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don found it could de­crease your liver fat by 15%. How­ever, re­search sug­gests that half of us re­turn to our bad habits soon af­ter­wards. Swap­ping he­do­nism with ab­sti­nence plays into our cul­ture’s per­ni­cious all-or-noth­ing re­la­tion­ship with booze: in re­al­ity, those who drink reg­u­larly but mod­er­ately have been shown to be health­ier than tee­to­tallers.

So, we’d plump for Ve­gan­uary, the clunkily named month of trad­ing meat and dairy for plant-based foods. “High in­takes of an­i­mal pro­duce can have an in­flam­ma­tory ef­fect, in­creas­ing the risk of in­sulin re­sis­tance and heart dis­ease,” says nu­tri­tional ther­a­pist Francesca Lan­caster. “Plus, plant foods cul­ti­vate a di­ver­sity of ben­e­fi­cial gut bac­te­ria, im­prov­ing weight con­trol.” A re­cent study* also found that those who went meat-free for four weeks saw a drop in their blood pres­sure and choles­terol. Cru­cially, our re­la­tion­ship with meat tends to be less ex­treme than with booze: you’re less likely to binge on steaks come 1 Fe­bru­ary.

A fi­nal word of cau­tion. En­sure you eat plenty of whole­foods – veg­eta­bles, nuts, legumes and grains, not just pro­cessed vegan sausages. But if you’d like to wash your meal down with a warm­ing glass of (vegan) Caber­net, we won’t stand in your way.


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