Maybe your nightly glass of wine has turned into two or three. Or
you’re overdoing it on the beer and have the gut to prove it.
Giving up alcohol can be tough – but the benefits make it worth
the effort, says Damon Raskin, MD, a Los Angeles-based physician who is board
certified in addiction medicine.
“Taking a break from drinking alcohol – even if it’s just for a
couple of weeks – is a good idea, especially if you’re regularly consuming more
than the recommended daily limit,” Dr Raskin says. That’s generally two
drinks a day for men.
Also, if your drinking seems to be affecting your work or personal
relationships – regardless of how much booze you’re knocking back – it’s time
to consider taking it easy, he adds.
Here’s what you can expect to happen, both short- and long-term,
if you give up alcohol:
Read more: This
is the best type of alcohol to drink if you’re trying to lose weight
sleep more soundly
One recent study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found drinking
before bed increases alpha wave patterns in the brain – a kind of cerebral
activity that usually occurs when you’re awake but resting.
The result? Disrupted sleep.
Another review of 27 studies found that while alcohol may help
people fall asleep more quickly and deeply at first, it seriously screws with
sleep quality after that initial restful period.
You might toss and turn at first, but give up alcohol and the sleep you get
will likely leave you feeling more refreshed and sharp the next day.
The byproducts of better sleep: improved mood, concentration and
mental performance, Dr Raskin says.
eat less at dinner
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, alcohol is one of the
biggest drivers of overeating.
That may be because alcohol heightens our senses, according to a
new study published in the journal Obesity.
Researchers found that when
people received an alcohol “infusion” equal to about two drinks, they ate 30%
more food than those who received a saline solution.
Even mild intoxication can increase your brain activity in the
hypothalamus, making you more sensitive to the smell of food and prompting you
to eat more.
might crave sugar
Sugar boosts levels of the “reward” chemical dopamine, which fuels
feelings of pleasure, Dr Raskin says.
Alcohol does the same thing, so it’s very possible that when you give up one
substance that causes happy-making chemicals to float around your brain, you’ll
be more likely to reach for the other.
“Don’t be surprised if you try to get that same enjoyment or rush
you used to get after a drink from something sweet,” he says.
Read more: Is drinking every day – even a little bit – going to turn
you into an alcoholic?
start losing weight
Alcohol has a sneaky way of increasing your daily calorie intake
without you realising it.
Just one margarita may contain 300 calories or more – mostly from
Men consume an additional 433 calories on those days they drink a
“moderate” amount of alcohol, according to one study.
Cut those from your diet – and don’t replace them with desserts – and
you’ll start to lose weight without much effort.
skin will clear up
Within a few days of cutting out booze, you’ll notice your skin
looking and feeling more hydrated.
That’s because alcohol is a diuretic, causing you to urinate more,
Dr Raskin says.
Alcohol also decreases the body’s production of an antidiuretic hormone, which
helps the body reabsorb water. (Less water in the body equals dry-looking
Ruddiness in your cheeks and around your nose may also start to
fade, and other skin conditions – such as dandruff, eczema or rosacea – may
also improve, Dr Raskin says.
Read more: How to detox your skin after overdoing the alcohol, sweets
have more money
Drinking – especially a fine wine or scotch habit – is an
Take a moment to crunch the numbers, adding up what you spend for
drinks both at home and out on the town (factoring in tax and tip).
It can be an eye-opening – and motivating – exercise.
mood might take a hit
It’s important to understand that there will be times when you
feel like you’re missing out – and it can make you pretty testy, Dr Raskin
“People often use alcohol as a lubricant for emotions, and when
they stop drinking they may feel agitated and restless,” he adds.
cancer risk falls but your heart disease risk might rise
According to the National Cancer Institute, alcohol use has been
linked to an increased risk for cancers of the mouth, liver, colon and rectum.
The risk increases the more you drink.
On the other hand, multiple studies have shown moderate alcohol
consumption may lower your odds of heart trouble.
More research suggests your risk for stroke, diabetes and
mortality may all rise slightly when you give up booze – assuming you were a
light drinker before you quit.
This article was originally published on www.mh.co.za
Image credit: iStock