The Secret to Feeling Better: Giving Up Alcohol

We search high and low for a quick fix for health and longevity. And just when you think it’s unattainable, you find something that makes sense. Giving up alcohol can give you that quick fix you’re after. You’ll feel better, have more money in your pocket and even reduce your risk of developing certain cancers.

The following are health benefits you’ll experience when you give up alcohol:

Improved sleep

Alcohol may make you feel sleepy, but it can interfere with rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. The more you drink before bedtime, the greater the effects. REM sleep makes up about 25 percent of your sleep cycle, and this is when you dream. Give up alcohol and you’ll enjoy a more restful REM phase of sleep.

Better complexion

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it helps your body expel liquid waste (urine). This can quickly lead to dehydration if you aren’t drinking enough water. Dehydration leads to dull, dry skin, which is never attractive. Over time, alcohol’s effects on the skin intensify. Alcohol also creates a histamine reaction that leads to systemic inflammation. This will show as redness and flushing of the skin.

Reduced disease risk

When you drink, your body breaks down alcohol into a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde, which can damage DNA. This is one reason why alcohol may increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer. Alcohol also impairs your body’s ability to digest a variety of nutrients that may help protect the body from developing cancer. These nutrients include vitamin A, B complex vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E and carotenoids.

Drinking alcohol may increase your risk of developing head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Quit drinking and you may increase your life expectancy by reducing your disease risk.

Better mood

Many people drink to relax or de-stress, but alcohol can have the opposite effect, especially over time. Regular drinking interferes with neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin that help the brain regulate mood. Know that drinking to feel better is counterproductive. Inevitably, drinking will eventually make you feel much worse. Try finding healthy outlets for stress instead, like exercise or meditation.

Alcohol is a huge part of our culture, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for your health. If you can quit or cut back, you will notice improvements in your body and mind.

If you try to quit and experience physical withdrawal symptoms, talk to an alcohol counselor or call a rehab facility. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be severe and life-threatening, depending on how severe of a problem you have.

If you simply have trouble laying off the alcohol but don’t have physical symptoms of withdrawal, you can be sure you’re on the right path. In this case, you may be a “problem drinker,” which can be dangerous because it often leads to alcoholism.

Once you get past the initial week or two, you’ll be on a path to feeling better than ever in no time.

Photo by mattyfo