We all know too much alcohol is disastrous for the human body, though many studies have given us the OK to drink one to two glasses of wine per day, and see some health benefits.
There are even more reasons, however, to stop drinking alcohol completely. Here's what happens to your body when you begin to abstain.
1. YOU'LL SLEEP BETTER
A couple of glasses of pinot at night has a sedative effect on some people, making it easy to fall asleep. However, the quality of sleep you're getting in such a case is likely to be poor. A scholarly review of 27 different studies found that drinking will make you fall asleep quicker, but it'll soon affect the alpha wave patterns in your brain. The result is tossing, turning and waking up more often than usual throughout the night. Cut out alcohol completely and (after an initial period of adjustment) you should find you have longer, deeper sleeps every night.
2. YOU'LL LOSE WEIGHT
One of the main reasons people stop drinking alcohol is because they want to start losing weight, because you're cutting out empty calories altogether. Alcohol serves no nutritional purpose: It doesn't give you energy like carbohydrates or feed your muscles like protein. When you cut it out, you cut out hundreds of calories per day that weren't giving you sustenance anyway.
3. BUT YOU MAY CRAVE SUGAR
Although the sugar in beverages like wine is fermented into alcohol (and most wines therefore contain no or little residual sugar), a lot of people are satiated by wine's sweet taste. Like sugar, alcohol also gives your brain a hit of pleasurable dopamine and makes your feel temporarily happier. So if you stop drinking alcohol, you'll remove that dopamine hit and might begin seeking it from other sources – such as chocolate. While entirely in your control, this is something to be aware of.
4. YOUR METABOLISM WILL CHANGE
There is some evidence to suggest that light alcohol consumption (1-2 units per day) slightly speeds up your metabolism, but its effect is negligible if weight loss is a goal. Conversely, medium and heavy drinkers see their metabolisms slow significantly with alcohol consumption. Cutting out the drinks completely should see it speed up and make you burn energy more efficiently.
5. YOU'LL HAVE REGULATED BLOOD SUGAR
It is estimated that somewhere between 45 and 70 per cent of people with liver disease caused by alcoholism also have diabetes or a form of glucose intolerance. Alcohol wreaks havoc on your blood sugar levels by decreasing the effect of insulin in your body (potentially leading to insulin resistance). When you take booze out of your diet, this risk factor reduces because your body isn't impaired any more and can manage blood sugar levels effectively.
6. YOU'LL HAVE BETTER COGNITIVE FUNCTION
When you're drunk you slur your words, slow down your physical reactions, and your memory function doesn't work as well as usual. What may surprise you is that these effects linger long after you've sobered up, and staying off the sauce can bring your brain back up to optimal speed. In a study published by New Scientist, it was found that five weeks without alcohol improves cognitive function and concentration levels by 18 per cent, alertness by 9.5 per cent, and performance at work improves by 17 per cent.
7. YOU'LL BUILD MORE MUSCLE
Bodybuilders are usually teetotallers for good reason. According to a study in the American Journal of Physiology, alcohol consumption hinders workout protein consumption into the muscles, impairing the repair of muscles. Massey University research has even found that drinking alcohol also increases muscle soreness after weightlifting sessions. That's right: Not only does booze make your workouts less effective, it makes them hurt more afterwards, too.
8. YOU'LL CHANGE YOUR DISEASE RISK
In terms of disease risk, giving up alcohol changes your disease risk both for better and for worse. On one hand, your cancer risk goes down: Cancers of the liver, colon and rectum, breast, and mouth all have links to alcohol, and the more you drink, the higher your risk. Conversely, because light alcohol consumption – again, 1-2 units per day (but not more) – will reduce your risk of heart disease, that means dropping your intake to zero can, theoretically, raise that risk.
Source: Well and Good. com