Whether it's temporarily giving up gluten or swearing off sugar, our culture is all about the lifestyle fads. But we could definitely benefit from giving up certain things if we're looking for a few healthy changes — and one of them is alcohol. Anyone who even drinks moderately could gain something from committing to a booze fast. There is a lot of scientific research out there proving that there are some positive bodily transformations that can be obtained when we take a respite from the merry beverages, and doctors highly encourage we do so every now and then.
Of course, how much you're drinking matters here. If you're a one-glass-of-wine-a-week kind of gal, you won't see very dramatic physical changes if you renounce such a tiny habit; the well-known negative effects of alcohol don't hit you when you consume the minimal amount.
But for those of us who delve into the territory that is outside the recommended daily intake on the regular, we might be absorbing some of alcohol's nasty side effects without even realizing it. Aren't you curious to see what kind of magic awaits you if you bid farewell to alcohol (just for a little while, anyway)? Here are eight things that happen to your body when you give up booze.
1. You Feel Better-Rested
You might think that catching Zzz’s is much easier after you’ve tossed back a few beers, but the sleep you get when you drink isn't actually all that great, according to a study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Alcohol may assist you in falling asleep pretty quickly, but it totally wrecks the rest of the night, disrupting your REM cycle.
After you’ve sworn off alcohol, it might initially be harder to slip into that sweet dream state, so don’t freak out if you find yourself wide awake, counting sheep. But once you get past that discomfort, you’ll probably find yourself much more refreshed when you wake up.
2. Your Glucose Levels Drop
It sounds sinister, but lowering the amount of glucose in your body is a good thing. When Rajiv Jalan from the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at University College London Medical School rounded up a bunch of very willing volunteers from the New Scientist staff, he found that the booze-free group saw a 16 percent drop in glucose levels after only five weeks, while the drinkers saw no such change.
You might be thinking, What’s the big deal? Diabetes, that’s what, people! When glucose levels are all out of whack, insulin isn’t regulated properly throughout the body, and you're at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes. This is a threat you don't want to face, especially if you know people in your family have wrestled with diabetes.
3. Your Risk For Cancer, Cardiovascular Diseases & Stroke Decreases
The National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists alcohol as a human carcinogen (a substance known to cause cancer), and the more you toss back, the more likely you are to contract liver cancer, breast cancer, and head and neck cancer, among others. In fact, 3.5 percent of all cancer-related deaths are connected to severe alcohol consumption.
Lots of drinking slows down your central nervous system, and that puts you at risk for stroke, heart disease, and nerve damage. Going dry for just a month can lower your chance of contracting any of these unwanted consequences. Bonus? Your immune system will work better too.
4. Some Of The Fat On Your Liver Falls Off
In the same New Scientist study mentioned above, the no-alcohol group of subjects experienced a 15 percent drop in their liver fat, on average. Some folks even lost 20 percent. It seems like an arbitrary thing to celebrate, but the significance of it runs a lot deeper than you might think.
Jalan says “fat accumulation on the liver is a known prelude to liver damage,” and by getting your liver to trim the extra fat, you’re reducing your risk of fibrosis, the scarring of the liver, as well as cirrhosis, a chronic disease of the liver.
5. Your Chance Of Getting Pregnant Increases
Lock in some reliable birth control if you haven’t already, because your fertility rises after you kiss all those nightly cocktails goodbye. Although the details of the many studies on pregnancy rates and alcohol consumption vary from one to the next, the overall outcome is pretty clear: the more you drink, the less likely you are to get pregnant.
Over a three-year period, 430 couples between 20-35 years old were closely monitored; what they found was 64 percent of the women drinking less than five alcoholic beverages a week got pregnant, while only 55 percent of those who drank more did. Experts think that alcohol has such a strong effect on fertility that kicking the bottle could be as effective as IVF treatments.
6. You Might Lose Weight
Most tasty beverages are packed with carby sugars, so don't be surprised if the pounds just start peeling off when your evenings start to lack those few glasses of white wine. The point of giving up alcohol isn't necessarily to lose weight for everyone, but don't be surprised if it happens without much effort. Your body is suddenly processing a lot less calories, and the scale will likely reflect it.
7. Your Skin Will Probably Clear Up
Dr. Raskin says you could be staring at a clear complexion only days into your alcohol cleanse. He attributes this welcome side effect with the fact that, without all the beers, the production of an antidiuretic hormone spikes and the body absorbs water much faster. Your skin is hydrated and well-equipped to keep the canvas of your face looking smooth and pretty.
Here's a solid example: a 40-year-old woman from the United Kingdom was featured in the Daily Mail for the significant changes she saw in her complexion after giving up alcohol for a month. The redness and blotchiness were gone, dry spots had disappeared, and a glow had visibly returned to her face.
8. Your Emotions Might Even Out
When you're drinking a lot, you're more prone to depressive symptoms and mood swings, even if you don't realize it. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says it's not uncommon for heavy drinkers to experience manic emotions, since alcohol can alter your brain chemistry in the long-run. These mental side effects aren't permanent, though, and when you start refusing the drinks, you'll probably see a big improvement in your temperament — assuming you're not going through withdrawal from an addiction.
Images: Comedy Central; Giphy (8)