As sure as night follows day, a hangover follows a night of excessive alcohol consumption. We have all made a solemn vow to never touch alcohol again in the cold light of the morning.
Very few of us actually stick to this promise, though. After a few aspirins, a carb-heavy breakfast and a nap, we’re raring to go all over again.
What would happen if did manage to eradicate alcohol from our lives, though? There are undeniable advantages to a teetotal lifestyle.
Are you drinking too much?
As discussed, it’s easy to promise to quit alcohol after a heavy night of binge drinking. If this is a one-off, however, your consumption isn’t as big of a concern.
Make no mistake, it’s not advisable. Binge drinking can have a severe short-term impact on the body and brain. When alcohol becomes a habit, however, the risks are magnified.
One glass of wine with dinner may become three. One quick drink after work may end in leaving the car at the office and taking a cab home.
You like to unwind with a whiskey at the end of a long day? Make sure that bottle doesn’t end up empty quicker than you realized.
100 grams of alcohol, or around seven standard drinks, is considered safe over one week. Any more than this and you’re putting yourself at risk. It may be time to cut down on your alcohol intake – or better yet, quit drinking altogether.
Are there any benefits to quitting drinking?
For many people, giving up alcohol is an intimidating prospect. It’s ingrained in our culture as a critical element of socializing and relaxing. For most of us, no alcohol equates to no fun.
Despite this, there are significant and undeniable advantages of going teetotal. Some of these are obvious. You’ll save money, you’ll eradicate hangovers, and you won’t duet Nickelback songs with strangers at a karaoke bar. Your mental and physical health will also be boosted, though.
Some of the benefits of quitting drinking include:
You’ll sleep better
A good night’s sleep is so essential, and alcohol can severely impact our ability to get forty winks.
You’ll lose weight
Most alcoholic drinks are packed with sugar. If you remove booze from your diet, you’ll drastically reduce your sugar intake. Also, alcohol heightens our senses – which, in turn, make us hungrier.
You’ll significantly reduce your risk of contracting various forms of cancer
Alcohol is a group 1 carcinogen, after all. (1)
Your body will be substantially less dehydrated
This will result in clearer skin and a sharper mind.
You’ll become considerably more fertile
This applies to both men and women. Women that drank to excess are 18% less likely to become pregnant, while male drinkers increase the probability of malformed sperm. (2)
Of course, you won’t experience all of these advantages at once. In fact, if you’re a heavy drinker, you’ll likely feel worse before you feel better. Stand by your decision, though. If you’re patient, your health will undergo some radical and beneficial changes.
The immediate impact of quitting drinking
The first impact of quitting drinking is detoxification of the body. Your liver recognizes alcohol like a toxin and purges it as quickly as it can.
Depending on how heavily you drink, this could take as little as an hour or as long as two days. It all depends on how much work your body has to do.
Detoxing any substance leads to withdrawal symptoms – and, again, these will vary in severity. You’ll likely experience fluctuations in temperature. Your heart rate will rise and fall. You may struggle to sleep and concentrate, and you may feel nauseous. These symptoms will pass as soon as the detoxification process is complete.
Your body will likely crave something to replace the alcohol it’s missing during this period. More often than not, sugar will appear hugely appealing. This is why we desire carbs when we’re feeling the impact of a night of drinking.
Try to avoid caving into this hankering
If you’re going to feel wretched, it’s better to purge everything unsavory from our bodies at once. Otherwise, you’re just prolonging the misery.
We know what you’re thinking – we’re not exactly selling the idea of a teetotal lifestyle. The good news is the benefits to quitting drinking kick in as soon as the detoxification process ends. Once the remnants of alcohol are out of your body, the repairing process begins.
Within a week, your body will be significantly more hydrated. This means your skin will look more vibrant and healthier, and issues such as dandruff will start to subside. You’ll also think clearer and sleep better.
After a month, you’ll really start to see the difference. The fat on your liver will reduce by some 15%. You’ll also begin to drop weight, as your calorie intake will be significantly reduced. In addition to this, you will find that you’re craving sugar less and less. This will make a healthy diet and lifestyle more appealing. (3)
The longer-term impact of a teetotal lifestyle
After around a year of sobriety, you’ll really see some differences. The aforementioned aesthetic improvements to your skin and waistline will become increasingly apparent.
It’s after around a year that the previously profiled cancer risks drop sharply. Mouth and breast cancers, in particular, become less likely if you’re not drinking. Your liver will also be fully repaired, leading to a considerably lower risk of cirrhosis.
Your heart will also likely be in better shape. Despite what you have heard, science claims that no alcohol will actually boost health – even red wine. In fact, most other alcoholic beverages are outright harmful. Also, teetotalers frequently enjoy a healthier lifestyle in general. You’ll be more motivated to eat well and exercise regularly. (4)
Your bank balance will also look considerably healthier. You’ll be spending less on alcohol – and the associated expenses, such as taxis home, junk food to sate cravings, and bouquets of flowers to apologize for your behavior the previous night!
Finally, think about the impact that drinking has on your brain. Alcohol is a depressant. It limits our thought processes and dulls our senses. By not drinking, your mind will be sharper than ever before.
You may feel a little down at first, as though you’re missing out on social fun, but you’ll soon consider the benefits to outweigh the drawbacks.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can never drink again. If you are healthy and not dependent on alcohol, the occasional glass of champagne on a special occasion won’t hamper you too much. The less you drink, the faster the detoxification process will be.
Just be careful not to fall back into old habits. Alcohol consumption can be a slippery slope. If you find that you’re happier and healthier living a teetotal lifestyle, there is no reason to stop.