All The Good Stuff That Happens To Your Body When You Take A Break From Alcohol
Dry July is a fundraiser that encourages people to give up alcohol for the month of July and raise funds for cancer patients and their families and carers.
There’s nothing quite like going out with your mates for a big night or two (or three), but there’s also nothing as satisfying as realising you’ve managed to sidestep another time-wasting, hangry hangover.
Making the decision to hit the reset button and take a break from booze isn’t just liberating, it’s a sure-fire way to save your cash and get your mental and physical health back on track. So, with Dry July just around the corner, here are just some of the best reasons to contemplate hitting snooze on the booze.
Your Sleep Improves
Is there anything more annoying than waking up at 3am because those delicious yet devious wines and beers have messed with your sleep patterns? Drinking, especially if you’re indulging on a regular basis, can majorly affect your sleep cycle as well as the actual quality of your sleep.
Sure, alcohol can help you doze off, but it won’t keep you in a rested state. Why? It’s simple. When we’ve had a lot of alcohol, our bodies spend less time in the REM stage of sleep. This can lead to disruptions to our precious snooze time and leave us constantly feeling tired. To make matters worse, this level of fatigue is proven to awaken your hunger hormone, which brings me to my next point…
Your Weight Stabilises
When it comes to alcohol and weight gain, there are a few things to consider. Not only do we consume more food and make poor dietary decisions with less satiety when we’re hungover, but every drink we’re putting into our bodies is filled with “empty” calories. Yep, even those vodka sodas.
What’s more, if you’re a spirit drinker, most of the mixers that regularly feature alongside your favourite tipple – like cola, lemonade and tonic (along with pre-mixed beverages for that matter) – are filled with sugar. Alcohol has zero nutritional value to boot – so we’re basically just consuming empty calories.
To add insult to injury, our bodies processes booze before anything else, which means the focus is on expelling the alcohol instead of burning off all the carbs or sugar you may have also consumed that night. Most importantly – giving up drinking allows your liver to heal and lowers your risk of developing fatty liver and liver disease over a longer period of time.
You Look Better
One of the many reasons we look and feel so haggard after a big night out is that the booze we’re consuming is actually a diuretic – meaning it dehydrates the heck out of our bodies and especially our skin. Basically, booze gets broken down into acetaldehyde, which damages DNA. This leads to a breakdown of collagen fibres as well as inflammation and hyperpigmentation. This can make us look super dull and emphasise the bags under the eyes (among other things).
What’s more, because alcohol causes inflammation (and yes, this inflammation can increase the risk of certain cancers), it’s more likely that you could notice a few extra pimples, clogged pores, blackheads or even broken capillaries if you’re a regular drinker.
Your Energy And Focus Return
Because cutting out alcohol improves sleep, you may also notice an improvement in your ability to focus and concentrate as a result. How nice would it be to go about your day-to-day activities without feeling like you’re carrying a major sleep deficit all the time? When we pull back on the booze, we’re also less susceptible in spikes in our blood sugar, which can also affect our moods and concentration levels.
For those living with mental illnesses like anxiety and depression, avoiding an added depressant is always going to help. And, while booze can feel like a quick fix especially in social situations, the truth is, drinking has the potential to leave us feeling worse than ever due to the lower serotonin levels we experience once the alcohol wears off.
You Save Money
Perhaps one of the most immediate and tangible benefits of giving up booze is the money factor. Sure, it has nothing to do with the effects on your body, but it’s seriously worth considering.
While a few bucks here or there on drinks might not seem like a lot, it can add up if you’re going out numerous times a week, getting around in taxis, ordering late-night takeaway, and splashing cash on impromptu purchases when you’re sloshed (hello, ASOS, yes, it’s me. Again).
Dry July is a fundraiser that encourages you to go alcohol-free in July to raise funds for people affected by cancer. Sign up today.
(Lead image: Tyler Nix / Unsplash)