Benefits of cutting down or cutting out alcohol
Taking a break from alcohol is one of the best things you can do for your health. Whether you’re thinking about drinking less in an average week or feeling like you don’t want to drink alcohol at all anymore, there are so many good reasons that can help to make the choice that is right for you. And if you decide not to cut out alcohol entirely right now, it’s best to stick to the low-risk weekly guidelines.
When you take a break from alcohol, you’ll most likely notice that your mood improves, and you may feel more positive overall.
Because you’re not experiencing the low mood, anxiety and tiredness associated with the day after drinking, your outlook can shift, and you’ll have more time to spend on doing things that make you happy. This could be catching up with friends over Sunday brunch, exercise classes or giving your mood a boost with a nice long walk in your local park.
In the short-term cutting down on alcohol has all kinds of benefits like lower blood sugar, weight loss and fewer associated negative consequences like a headache or heartburn. One study has shown other benefits including lower blood pressure and reduced cholesterol.
After a few weeks without alcohol you may notice that your day-to-day health has improved. This is because alcohol weakens your immune system. So if you do catch a cold that’s doing the rounds in the office, you may notice that you’re better able to fight it off and recover more quickly.
Over time, liver function can improve. The liver performs many essential processes in our bodies and reducing how much you drink means the liver can focus on these essential jobs instead of working overtime to process and eliminate alcohol.
Changes now can protect our future health. Many alcohol-related health risks don’t appear until later in life. This means that how much and how often we drink now can have affect our health later in life. Making small, positive changes now will help reduce risks for a long list of health harms including cancer, liver and heart disease. And so, while you may not be able to see all the effects right away you can rest assured that you’re making a difference to your long-term health.
If you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight or lose a few pounds, cutting back on alcohol can help. Alcohol has almost the same calories per gram as pure fat and depending on the type, the sugar content can be high. For example, one bottle of white wine (750ml, 12.5%) has 30 grams of sugar. That is the equivalent of 8 teaspoons of sugar! And this doesn’t even take into account any late-night snacking or junk food you might eat the following day.
Your skin should appear healthier for a few different reasons. A US study found that alcohol is a trigger for rosacea (facial redness or flushing) and can worsen the condition if you already have it. Alcohol dehydrates the body and because it is a diuretic that increases your body’s need to urinate more often. This means you’ll lose water and sodium more quickly, which can leave your skin looking dull and dry.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you drink less or take a break from alcohol is how much better you’re sleeping. If you regularly have a drink to help you fall asleep (which actually has the opposite effect), your body might take a few days to adjust into a normal sleep cycle without alcohol. Keep going! Once you develop your new alcohol-free nightly routine, your quality of sleep will improve.
Better still, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and with full of energy to take on the day ahead. This can help increase your concentration, memory, productivity. More good news is that you’ll be more likely to attend that morning weekend workout session you booked earlier in the week, which is good for your mind and body.
So often, people don’t consider how much money they are spending on alcohol. Use our online drinks calculator to estimate how much money you spend on alcohol during an average week. Multiply this by 52 and you'll have your spend for the year. If you were to set this aside every month, imagine how much you could save over time.
Have you tried our drinks calculator?
What's the real impact of your drinking on your health, wellbeing and bank balance? Use our Drinks Calculator to find out.Drinks Calculator