You may have already known what we were talking about just from the title. That’s right, we’re talking about alcohol.
Alcohol is a social lubricant, no doubt about it. The uncomfortable truth, however, is that it’s also toxic. And a nasty hangover is the least of your problems. Alcohol is a psychoactive drug that even in small quantities can do serious damage to your body.
There’s a long list of diseases linked with alcohol consumption, including heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, stroke, and several types of cancer. According to the World Health Organization, over 3 million people die each year from harmful use of alcohol.
Fortunately, it’s never too late to ditch the liquid toxin.
In fact, it takes less than a month of not drinking to start noticing all the incredible health benefits of sobriety. Here are 10 ways going alcohol-free for 28 days can change your life:
1. Your liver will thank you
Alcohol is dangerous to multiple organs in your body, but liver is where most of the damage occurs. This is because the liver bears the brunt of metabolizing alcohol and eliminating it from your system.
The liver breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde, a chemical compound listed as Group 1 carcinogen by The International Agency for Research on Cancer. Acetaldehyde is believed to be the main cause of alcohol-related liver cirrhosis, a disease that kills around 35,000 Americans each year.
The good news is that many of our organs – liver included – have the remarkable ability to repair themselves. The liver is actually the only organ in the human body that can completely regenerate itself in just 30 days.
2. You will lower your risk of cancer
Even moderate consumption of alcohol is known to increase the risk of at least six different forms of cancer, including the cancers of mouth, throat, larynx and esophagus, colon cancer and breast cancer.
A study conducted in Japan showed that having just one drink a day over a period of 10 years (or two drinks a day for five years) increases overall cancer risk by 5%.
While it’s true that your risk of cancer doesn’t immediately go down as soon as you quit drinking alcohol, it will progressively get lower with each alcohol-free month. So, why wait another day? Ditch the alcohol right now and take back control of your health.
3. Your mental health will improve
Besides causing damage to almost every organ in the body, alcohol is also harmful to your mental health. Don’t be fooled by the fact that having a drink seems to take the stress off your shoulders. The temporary feel-good buzz you get from drinking alcohol can have serious long-term consequences.
Alcohol is neurotoxic, which means that it gradually alters your brain chemistry and increases the risk of developing mental health problems. If you decide to quit drinking, however, you can actually reverse the neurotoxicity caused by alcohol.
According to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, it is women in particular who can reap the most mental health benefits from giving up drinking. Just some of these benefits include mood stabilization, anxiety and depression relief, better focus and impulse control, and increased motivation.
4. Your skin will look younger
Going alcohol-free will not just make you feel better, it also makes you look better. Drinking alcohol negatively impacts your skin in a number of ways. Since alcohol is a diuretic, it dehydrates your skin and gives it a dull and sallow appearance. A regular drinker’s face will also be noticeably redder and puffier than that of a teetotaler.
If you decide to quit alcohol for 28 days, you will notice huge improvements in the way your skin looks and feels. Once you give up drinking, your skin will become noticeably plumper, softer, and more radiant. In other words, you can erase years from your face simply by cutting out alcohol from your diet.
5. Your will boost your memory
Not only can drinking make you more forgetful, regular consumption of alcohol can actually cause permanent memory loss. Alcohol disrupts the brain’s ability to store information into long-term memory. Heavy drinking also damages the hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for the formation of new memories.
Removing all alcoholic beverages from your diet for 28 days can significantly improve your memory. MRI studies on recovering alcoholics have shown that when a person quits drinking, their brain volume gradually increases over time. After only a few weeks of abstinence, the hippocampus will grow new, healthy cells and memory will improve significantly.
6. You will sleep better
The idea that alcohol helps you sleep better is just a myth. While it’s true that a glass of wine may make you fall asleep faster, it will also wreak havoc on your brain and disrupt the natural sleep cycle.
According to a Harvard Medical School report, drinking before bedtime increases the level of epinephrine in the body. Epinephrine is a stress hormone that raises the heart rate, which means that a bedtime drink will cause you to wake up several times during the night.
Quitting alcohol and practicing good sleep hygiene will help you stay energized and focused during the day, improve your mood, and lower your stress levels.
7. You digestion will improve
Alcohol is acidic, which means it makes your stomach produce more acid than it needs. With regular drinking, all this acidity cab damage the lining of the stomach and could lead to developing peptic ulcers.
Drinking also makes it more difficult for your stomach to absorb all the important nutrients from food. This is why nutritional deficiencies are so common among people who drink regularly.
If you want to keep your digestive system healthy, the best thing you can do is cut all alcohol out of your diet and stick to a balanced meal plan.
8. You will lose weight
Everyone knows that the key to losing extra pounds is consuming fewer calories than you burn each day. The reason why losing weight and drinking simply don’t mix is that calories from alcohol can add up quickly. Even if you count in all the calories from alcohol and make sure they don’t exceed your recommended daily calorie intake, alcohol could still prevent you from losing weight.
Alcohol reduces the body’s levels of testosterone, a hormone which plays an important role in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism According to a study published in Nutrition & Diabetes journal, people who drink alcohol also sleep less which makes them more prone to crave simple sugars and gain weight.
Giving up alcohol is one of the easiest and fastest ways to cut empty calories from your diet, rev up your metabolism, and lose unwanted pounds.
9. You will save money
On top of all the health benefits of not drinking, quitting alcohol can also make a big difference in your weekly budget. Since most people tend to under-report the amount of alcohol they drink, they’re also more likely to be oblivious to how much money they spend on alcoholic beverages.
Remember – when it comes to saving money, it’s all about baby steps. Removing alcohol from your grocery shopping list is one of these small savings that can make a big difference in your budget over time. Try it for 28 days and you’ll quickly be surprised at how much extra cash you can save in such a short amount of time.
10. You will live longer
The myth that moderate drinking prolongs your life has been debunked. In fact, according to a study led by Angela Wood, a bio statistician from the University of Cambridge, having just one drink per day could shorten your life by anywhere between one and five years.
Not only is alcohol consumption associated with a higher risk of many fatal diseases, it’s also one of the leading causes of death in traffic accidents. With all the harmful effects alcohol has on your health, it’s clear that giving up drinking is one of the first things you need to do if you want to live a long and healthy life.
Who knew it takes just 28 days to improve your physical and mental well being in so many ways? Give it a try and jump start a healthier lifestyle right now.