It’s easy to find reasons to have a drink. You’ve had a stressful day. You’re seeing friends. For many of us, it takes effort to limit how much we’re drinking.
After a while, New Year’s resolutions and health kicks become easy lifestyle habits. And cutting down on alcohol doesn’t mean going stone cold sober – but keeping it in moderation can have some fantastic physical and mental benefits.
Here are just seven ways that cutting down on alcohol can help to boost your general health and wellbeing:
1. Lose weight
A gram of pure alcohol contains seven calories – but unlike the calories in foods like pizza and burgers, there’s absolutely no nutritional value. Without macronutrients like carbohydrates and protein, your body simply can’t do anything with the empty calories in alcohol.
There are around 200 calories in a pint of lager. And they soon add up. If you drink 1-2 pints per night, you’re adding a whole day’s calories (~2,000) to your intake per week.
And it’s not just the drink itself that puts the pounds on - alcohol increases your appetite – giving you those post-night-out carb cravings, and causing binge eating and nutritional deficiencies.
Lowering your alcohol intake will have a similar effect on your weight.
2. Increased productivity
Alcohol plays havoc with your sleep cycle. Although you’ll likely have no trouble falling asleep, it’s the quality of your sleep that suffers. A night on the booze can prevent you from reaching deep sleep – leaving you feeling lethargic and sluggish the next day.
Enjoying a few nights off the booze can give your body the quality sleep it craves, and can leave you feeling rested, recovered, productive and alert.
3. Clear skin
Regular drinking affects your skin in multiple ways. Alcohol impacts your hormone levels and your liver – two of the important regulators of your skin. And dehydration caused by alcohol can also leave your skin dry too.
Taking a break from alcohol after a heavy night gives your skin a chance to refresh, and reduces the risk of skin changes associated with liver damage.
Drink plenty of water around alcohol consumption to stay hydrated, and avoid drinking binges to keep your skin clear and healthy.
4. Feel happier and less anxious
We often drink for the short-term sensations of happiness and confidence. But the truth is that alcohol alters our brain chemistry, which can actually cause longer-term depression and anxiety.
Alcohol is a depressant – we may feel euphoric at the time, but we often wake up hungover and anxious, and focussing on negative thoughts.
If you rely on alcohol to feel better or to deal with stress, it’s important to take some time off. Breaking a dependence on alcohol gives you a fresh mind, and the chance to think clearly without the come-down from a heavy night.
5. Fit and active
Excessive drinking is linked with an increased risk of several types of cancer, including liver cancer, breast cancer, and mouth/oral cancer. Long-term health complications prevent you living a life you love.
Other physical side-effects of alcohol abuse include migraines from dehydration, nerve damage, liver damage and raised cholesterol - causing serious discomfort and making everyday tasks difficult. And you’re at greater risk of accident or injuries whilst intoxicated.
Drinking in moderation gives you the freedom to live the life you want. Spend more time with family and find new hobbies without a painful hangover, or worse.
6. Healthy hair
Limiting your drinking can have a positive impact on your appearance. Excessive alcohol consumption makes it difficult for your body to absorb key nutrients from food. And a deficiency in iron and zinc caused by malabsorption and hepatic disorders can cause telogen hair loss.
Dehydration from regular drinking binges also causes hair to become weak and dry, leading to breakages and hair thinning.
Reducing your alcohol intake can revitalise your hair and skin, which in turn has a positive impact on your mental wellbeing.
7. Live healthier
Increased blood pressure is often a result of alcohol abuse. Your body has to try harder to pump blood around and feed you with oxygen and energy, and this extra pressure drastically increases your risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack.
Lowering your alcohol consumption means you’re putting your body under less stress to keep you alive. And by keeping an eye on your intake, you live well and stay well for longer.
It’s not always easy to notice the negative effects that excessive drinking is having on your health and wellbeing. But cutting down on alcohol has an observable impact on your physical and mental health - getting you closer to living your best life.
If you’re worried about the effect alcohol is having on your body, then speak to one of our specialists, or book in for a comprehensive alcohol and liver check-up.