It's no secret that drinking alcohol can be extremely enjoyable. Having a few cold ones with friends will lead to great conversations and lasting memories. However, for many, drinking alcohol is quickly becoming more about social pressure than actual enjoyment.
It’s something many of us are familiar with: work dinners becoming “drink” dinners, special occasions requiring more booze than your liver can handle, and people who drank too much making poor decisions that they later regret.
Many Australians are unaware of the impact excessive alcohol consumption can have on their health and wellbeing. While many others aren’t fully aware of how much alcohol is too much. More than 3 million Australians drink alcohol at levels that are likely to pose a risk to their health and well-being. Alcohol is not without its risks or dangers So without further adieu, here are 8 awesome benefits of quitting or cutting back on alcohol.
1. You could lose weight
You probably know this already, but it’s worth repeating: Alcohol is loaded with calories. If your body doesn’t use those calories (i.e., burn them), they get stored as fat.
People who drink alcohol often don't realize how many calories they are consuming. Alcohol is not only high in calories but it can also lower your inhibitions and cause you to eat more food than you need.
You’ve probably been there before: It starts with one drink at happy hour and ends with pizza at 2 a.m., or you start out having a nice meal at a restaurant and then have too much wine and feel hungry for dessert. Research shows that alcohol can stimulate appetite by increasing levels of ghrelin, a hormone that makes us feel hungry, and decreasing leptin, a hormone that signals when we are full.
2. You could sleep better
An important benefit of drinking less or no alcohol is an improvement in the quality of sleep. Sleep helps with brain function and memory, boosts mood, regulates appetite, supports learning and creativity, reduces stress, and keeps the heart healthy. Alcohol disrupts restful sleep patterns by preventing deep sleep from occurring.
Alcohol decreases REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This stage of sleep supports memory formation and is essential for proper brain function. When you don't get enough REM sleep, it often leads to cognitive impairment the next day such as lack of focus or concentration.
3. You'll save money
Quitting alcohol can have a major impact on our health and well-being, but it can also save us money.
Alcohol is one of the most expensive habits. Every week, it can cost you hundreds of dollars, and over a year, thousands. That adds up fast, especially when you consider what else you could be doing with that money.
4. You could improve your digestion
Chronic alcohol abuse can cause inflammation of the lining of the stomach as well as permanent damage to the pancreas, liver and other organs responsible for digestion. The pancreas produces enzymes that break down food, while the liver produces bile, which helps digest fats and vitamins. If these organs are damaged by excessive alcohol consumption, digestion is impaired, affecting nutrient absorption and leading to weight loss or malnutrition.
5. Your heart will be healthier
One of the most immediate and tangible benefits of giving up alcohol is an improvement in cardiovascular health. When you drink, your blood pressure rises for a couple of hours. Regular drinking raises blood pressure and can lead to hypertension, which increases the risk of stroke and heart disease.
A month after giving up alcohol, your blood pressure will drop back to normal levels and your risk of having a stroke will have significantly decreased. The longer you go without drinking, the more your heart health benefits.
6. Your brain will thank you
Quitting alcohol can help you improve your brain and cognitive function. After time, your brain will be clearer and sharper than before. You'll have better concentration and focus, which will make it easier for you to learn new things.
Several studies have shown that long-term alcohol use can lead to a decrease in grey matter in the brain. Grey matter contains many of the brain's nerve cells and is responsible for processing information and making decisions.
Alcohol can also negatively affect the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory. Alcohol consumption has been shown to shrink this part of the brain, and this affects its ability to form new memories. It also makes it more difficult to recall memories formed before drinking.
7. Your risk of getting cancer decreases
Alcohol is a carcinogen and increases your risk for several types of cancer. The more you drink, the higher your risk becomes. If you already have cancer, drinking alcohol can lead to a relapse or prevent treatment from working as well as it should.
8. Your skin will look better
The reason that drinking can cause your skin to age more quickly is that it's a diuretic, meaning it makes you urinate more. This dehydrates you, which can make the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles more prominent.
If you drink too much alcohol over time, you could also develop rosacea, a chronic skin condition that causes redness and often results in blood vessels appearing beneath the surface of the skin. So, if you're prone to rosacea or have a family history of it, cutting down on your drinking may help reduce flare-ups.
The body is a remarkable and resilient machine. When you quit drinking, your body begins to heal almost immediately. The following timeline details some of the benefits you can expect within just a few days of giving up alcohol.
- Your liver gets to work immediately detoxifying your system from alcohol.
- Your brain starts to heal from the effects of alcohol use, leading to more restful sleep, reduced anxiety and depression and improved mood.
- Your blood sugar levels start to normalize as your body recovers from the stress of chronic alcohol use.
- You may notice that your appetite improves as your body recovers from the effects of alcohol use.
As you begin to feel better and have less anxiety and depression, you should find it easier to enjoy normal activities again. This can help improve your relationship with family and friends, reduce stress and make you feel happier overall.