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Health Benefits of Cutting Alcohol

05 January 2022

Cutting down on alcohol consumption is one of the first things doctors recommend any of their patients do in order to improve their overall health. While many of us relish sitting back with a glass of wine or meeting over a beer in the pub, overconsumption of alcohol can have a truly negative impact on pretty much every aspect of a person’s health.

Especially after all the decadence of the holiday season, many of us are seeking to cut down on the amount of alcohol we consume on a regular basis. And while this has the obvious benefit of saving money, the health benefits to be gained are vast. Here are some of the most positive impacts that cutting down on alcohol can have upon your overall health. Some may really surprise you!

1. Lower Blood Sugar

Alcoholic beverages can cause your blood glucose levels to either rise or fall, depending on the exact quantity you drink. Alcoholic beverages contain a lot of sugar, and when this enters your body it initially causes your blood sugar levels to spike. However, as all this sugar is absorbed and used up, your blood sugar levels crash. Even worse, alcohol inhibits the liver’s ability to produce enough glycogen to regulate overall blood sugar, meaning that your levels can drop even further as a result. All these spikes in dips in blood sugar levels wreak havoc on the body and can impair the body’s ability to respond to insulin. Cutting down on drinking regulates blood sugar spikes and dips, and keeps them at a healthy, stable level.

2. Weight Loss

With all of its negative impacts on organ and cardiovascular function, it’s important not to forget that alcohol is incredibly high in calories. Even one unit of alcohol will usually be a couple of hundred calories, and over the course of a few beers, this really adds up! Cutting out regular consumption of alcohol can be the equivalent of cutting out several (highly fatty) meals a week, which quickly adds up over time, reducing your waistband. What’s more, the impaired decision making process we develop under the influence of alcohol often leads people to make not-so-smart choices when it comes to their eating habits (think of the congregations of drunk people who flock to fast food restaurants every weekend), and cutting out drink can help cut down on these impulsive eating choices.

3. Improve Skin

Alcohol consumption messes with your blood sugar levels, nutrient absorption, and overall dehydration. All this can lead to major impacts on skin health, causing acne, dryness, and discolouration conditions such as rosacea. Reducing the amount of alcohol you regularly consume can have a major positive impact on the quality of your skin, and after a few weeks you should notice your skin developing a healthy new glow.

4. Mental Health Boost

Alcohol is known to have a massive impact on mood - both in the short term and long term. While it can induce a feeling of euphoria in the short term, alcohol is in fact a depressant, meaning that it impairs both cognitive and motor-neuron function, and can leave you feeling low and stressed the next day. Over time, high levels of alcohol consumption can lead to increased risk of anxiety and depression, with studies showing that over 60% of alcohol-dependent people exhibit major depression. Cutting down on alcohol helps to regulate mood - especially over the course of a few months, the effects can be truly life-changing.

5. Better Sleep

Alcohol is highly disruptive towards sleep hygiene, and improved quality of sleep is one of the first benefits those who cut out alcohol will start to notice. Consuming alcohol minimises the amount of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep that we get in a night, meaning that even with a full night’s sleep, the body wakes up feeling less rested. Plus, waking up without a nasty hangover makes you more likely to make the most of your mornings!

6. Absorb More Nutrients

Alcohol inhibits the body’s ability to intake and process a wide variety of nutrients. People who drink heavily on a regular basis are consistently shown to have a greater risk of vitamin and nutrient deficiencies across their diets. Cutting down on alcohol massively improves the risk of deficiency, and is especially useful in helping the body to process vitamins and minerals such as B1, B2, zinc, and folic acid.

7. Reduce Cancer Risk

There are a number of cancers associated with heavy alcohol consumption - most notably breast, liver, bowel, mouth, oesophagus, upper throat, and larynx. Lowering the amount of alcohol you consume on a regular basis greatly reduces the chances of developing such cancers, especially for those who may be genetically predisposed.

8. Improved Liver Function

One of the most well-known negative health impacts of regular heavy drinking is the toll it takes on overall liver function. Heavy drinking causes the buildup of fatty deposits in the liver, and impedes the organ’s ability to do its job and remove toxins from the body. Once the liver no longer has to process all the excess alcohol being fed through it, it can focus on other tasks - improving overall physical health.

 

These are just a few of the most noticeable positive effects you’ll notice in your physical and mental health if you make the decision to cut down on alcohol consumption. Other added benefits include increased hydration, and overall improved cognitive function. Cutting down means something different for everyone, so whether it be reducing your intake or cutting it out completely, changing your relationship with alcohol will have both your mind, body, and wallet thanking you!