The holiday season is in full swing. Christmas Day has come and gone, and New Year’s Day looms ahead in the not-so-far distance. The new year is always a cause for celebrations — whether you’re saying goodbye to the bad things that happened, or reflecting on all the good opportunities you’ve had this year, all of us look forward to ushering in a new year with new beginnings.
As with most celebrations, alcohol is likely a beverage of choice for adults. A pint of beer, a glass of wine, or a bottle of vodka — there’s no denying our fondness for alcohol. But alas, as with all things, consuming it in excess can be bad not just for your health, but your overall wellbeing. If your resolution for next year is to get healthier, you might want to cut down on your alcohol intake.
It might mean giving up something you enjoy, but the overall benefits should be enough to motivate you to consider it. So here’s the question — what happens to us when we stop drinking alcohol?
What Is Alcohol?
As early as the eighth century, humans have been consuming alcohol for different reasons, and they choose to consume it for a few reasons. Alcohol is a depressant — a drug that lowers brain stimulation — and can cause us to feel euphoria, reduces anxiety, and improves sociability by lowering our inhibitions. People consume it for cultural reasons, as a means to reduce stress, and as a social lubricant during parties.
However, there are downsides to consuming too much alcohol. In higher doses, it can cause judgement-impairing drunkenness, unconsciousness, or even death. Taken in excess over a long period of time can lead to addiction, and eventually, alcoholism. This brings on even more potential health problems — stress on your liver, increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and risk of stroke.
What Happens When You Give It Up
So now that you see what alcohol can do to you, you might be apprehensive about consuming more in future. If you still need more convincing, here are some of the benefits you’ll get when you cut yourself off from alcohol.
You might think since alcohol is a depressant and can make you drowsy, it could aid you in getting a good night’s sleep — but you might want to think again. Studies have shown that while alcohol does, in fact, help people fall asleep quicker, it reduces the overall quality of sleep by affecting rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep, sometimes also known as deep sleep, is the stage in our sleep cycle when we start to dream, and this stage is the one that restores our fatigue and makes us feel well rested in the morning. When alcohol disrupts your REM sleep, it can cause drowsiness and poor concentration the next morning — so if you want to feel well rested the next day, think twice before gulping down that second mug of beer.
Have you ever noticed that you feel hungrier when you’re out drinking with your friends? It’s not just you — it’s been proven with science. A study looking at how alcohol affects the body and brain of mice found that alcohol not only increases your appetite but can also decrease your metabolic rate and energy levels – and the same reaction happens with humans. The more you drink, the hungrier you will feel, which could lead to you eating more than usual. This could lead to weight gain and eventually, obesity. The remedy here is quite simple – to prevent binge eating, you should stop binge drinking.
Since drinking alcohol can increase your appetite, so when you stop, you’ll feel less hungry and accordingly, you’ll eat less — this prevents you from gaining weight. But did you realize that cutting yourself off from alcoholic drinks can even help you lose weight? You may not know it but alcohol itself contains plenty of calories – mostly in the form of sugars. A single pint of beer can contain as many as 180 calories, and a glass of wine as much as 120 calories. When you stop drinking, all these extra calories won’t affect you. Moreover, your liver is responsible for burning and metabolizing your body fat, but when alcohol is in your system, it prioritizes getting rid of the alcoholic toxins in your blood first, which hinders fat burning. Again, it’s simple — if you want to lose that belly and burn fat, skip the alcohol.
The Choice Is Yours
There are many more benefits available to you when you give up alcohol — like better-looking skin and having more money in your wallet. But the thing to note is that you don’t have to give it up completely. In small doses, some alcoholic beverages like red wine can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 40 per cent, and some studies have shown that alcohol drinkers had a lower risk to get gallstones compared to non-drinkers. The keyword here is moderation — do not drink in excess and let yourself go too much, and you’ll be able to enjoy your drinks and reap the benefits at the same time.