Why giv­ing up al­co­hol is worth it

Lesotho Times - - Health -

MAYBE your nightly glass of vino has turned into two or three. Or you’re over­do­ing it on the beer and have the paunch to prove it.

Whether you want to clean up your diet or you’re try­ing to nip a po­ten­tial is­sue in the bud, giv­ing up al­co­hol can be tough — but the ben­e­fits make it worth the ef­fort, says Da­mon Raskin, MD, a Los An­ge­les – based physi­cian who is board cer­ti­fied in ad­dic­tion medicine.

“Tak­ing a break from drink­ing al­co­hol — even if it’s just for a cou­ple of weeks — is a good idea, es­pe­cially if you’re reg­u­larly con­sum­ing more than the rec­om­mended daily limit,” Raskin says. (By the way, that limit is gen­er­ally de­fined as a drink a day for women and two for men.)

Also, if your drink­ing seems to be af­fect­ing your work or per­sonal re­la­tion­ships — re­gard­less of how much hooch you’re knock­ing back — it’s time to con­sider tak­ing it easy, he adds.

Here’s what you can ex­pect to hap­pen, both short- and long-term, if you give up al­co­hol:

1. You’ll sleep more soundly. One re­cent study in the jour­nal Al­co­holism: Clin­i­cal & Ex­per­i­men­tal Re­search found drink­ing be­fore bed in­creases al­pha wave pat­terns in the brain — a kind of cere­bral ac­tiv­ity that usu­ally oc­curs when you’re awake but rest­ing. The re­sult? Dis­rupted sleep. An­other re­view of 27 stud­ies found that while al­co­hol may help peo­ple fall asleep more quickly and deeply at first, it se­ri­ously screws with sleep qual­ity af­ter that ini­tial rest­ful pe­riod. You may toss and turn a bit at first, but give up al­co­hol and the sleep you get will likely leave you feel­ing more re­freshed and sharp the next day. The byprod­ucts of bet­ter sleep: im­proved mood, con­cen­tra­tion, and men­tal per­for­mance, Raskin says.

2. You’ll con­sume less at din­ner. Ac­cord­ing to a study pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Nu­tri­tion, al­co­hol is one of the big­gest driv­ers of ex­cess food in­take. That may be be­cause al­co­hol height­ens our senses, ac­cord­ing to a new study pub­lished in the jour­nal Obe­sity. Re­searchers found some women who’d re­ceived an al­co­hol “in­fu­sion” equiv­a­lent to about two drinks ate 30% more food than those who’d re­ceived a sa­line so­lu­tion. Even mild in­tox­i­ca­tion in­creased the women’s brain ac­tiv­ity in the hy­po­thal­a­mus, mak­ing them more sen­si­tive to the smell of food and prompt­ing them to eat more. 3. You may feel new sugar crav­ings. Sugar boosts lev­els of the “re­ward” chem­i­cal dopamine, which fu­els feel­ings of plea­sure, Raskin says. Al­co­hol does the same thing. So it’s very pos­si­ble that when you give up one sub­stance that causes happy-mak­ing chem­i­cals to float around your brain, you’ll be more likely to reach for the other. “Don’t be sur­prised if you try to get that same en­joy­ment or rush you used to get af­ter a drink from some­thing sweet,” he says.

4. Pounds will start to fall off. Al­co­hol has a sneaky way of in­creas­ing your daily calo­rie in­take with­out you re­al­iz­ing it. One mar­garita may con­tain 300 calo­ries or more — mostly from sugar. (A de­li­cious piña

dear co­lada might have 450 calo­ries!) One study found men con­sume an ad­di­tional 433 calo­ries on those days they drink a “mod­er­ate” amount of al­co­hol.

For women, it’s 300 calo­ries. Cut those from your diet — and don’t re­place them with desserts — and you’ll start to lose weight with­out much ef­fort.

5. Hello, clear com­plex­ion. Within a few days, you’ll no­tice your skin look­ing and feel­ing more hy­drated. That’s be­cause al­co­hol is a di­uretic, caus­ing you to uri­nate more, Raskin says. Al­co­hol also de­creases the body’s pro­duc­tion of an­tid­i­uretic hor­mone, which helps the body re­ab­sorb wa­ter. (Less wa­ter in the body equals parched- look­ing skin.) Rud­di­ness in your cheeks and around your nose may also start to fade, and other skin con­di­tions — such as dan­druff, eczema, or rosacea — may also im­prove, Raskin says.

6. You’ll have more money. Drink­ing—es­pe­cially a fine wine or scotch habit — is an ex­pen­sive un­der­tak­ing. Take a mo­ment to crunch the num­bers, adding up what you spend for drinks both at home and out on the town (fac­tor­ing in tax and tip). It can be an eye-open­ing — and mo­ti­vat­ing — ex­er­cise. 7. Envy will over­come you when you’re around oth­ers who are drink­ing. It’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand that there will be times when you feel like you’re miss­ing out — and it can make you pretty testy, Raskin says. “Peo­ple of­ten use al­co­hol as a lubri­cant for emo­tions, and when they stop drink­ing they may feel ag­i­tated and rest­less,” he adds. 8. Your risk for can­cer falls, though your heart dis­ease risk may creep up. Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Can­cer In­sti­tute, al­co­hol use has been linked to an in­creased risk for can­cers of the mouth, liver, breast, colon, and rec­tum. The risk in­creases the more you drink.

On the other hand, mul­ti­ple stud­ies have shown mod­er­ate al­co­hol con­sump­tion may lower your odds of heart trou­ble. More re­search sug­gests your risk for stroke, di­a­betes, and mor­tal­ity may all rise slightly when you give up booze — as­sum­ing you were a light drinker be­fore you quit. — Ya­hoo Health

Al­co­hol use has been linked to an in­creased risk for can­cers of the mouth, liver, breast, colon, and rec­tum.

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