We all love to have a drink. Whether you’re enjoying a family BBQ or heading to a footy match, you’re likely to have a beer with your mates. There are also benefits of going alcohol-free whether you give up the grog completely or just take a break.
The biggest benefit you may find is that you’ll lose weight because most alcoholic beverages are high in calories. It can be difficult to give up alcohol especially if you attach drinking alcohol to social events it can be hard to not have a beet when hanging at the pubs with mates, but it can be done.
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10 health benefits of going alcohol-free
1. Get better sleep
You may think that because you feel tired or lethargic after drinking alcohol that having a drink to help you sleep would be useful, but alcohol actually disrupts your sleep. It’s not that you can’t sleep after drinking it’s that the quality of the sleep is worse. By going alcohol-free the two most important cycles of sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) and slow-wave sleep, will be less disrupted. You’ll then wake up feeling brighter and more alert each morning
2. Lower blood pressure
Not drinking alcohol is the key to a healthy heart. Especially when you note the long list of heart-related problems long-term drinking can cause.
Alcohol raises our blood pressure both temporarily and permanently. And excessive alcohol consumption over the years can lead to high blood pressure – one of the main causes of heart disease.
Then there’s the high-calorie count in alcohol that can increase the amount of cholesterol in our arteries, heightening the risk of a heart attack because of the blockage.
Going alcohol-free will help your heart repair itself and will help your body clear all the things that may be having a negative impact on your heart.
3. Better for your brain
It’s pretty common knowledge that alcohol does some form of damage to your brain, just the way you feel when you’ve had a few drinks shows it impacts your brain. Suffice to say going alcohol-free will obviously be better for your brain and help it reheal all the damage you may have done to it over the years when you have been drinking.
4. Help you lose weight
What sort of food choices do you make when you’ve been drinking? Are they the healthy ones you make when you’re stone-cold sober or are you more likely to reach for the unhealthy snacks and foods? You’re likely not making the best food choices under the influence which means when going alcohol-free you’ll make better, healthier decisions helping you to lose weight.
Plus alcoholic drinks are most often high in calories on their own so cutting them out will lower the calories you consume helping you lose weight. Don’t believe us? Check out how many calories are in vodka or how many calories are in red wine. We also have an article from our nutritionist about the best beer for weight loss, which highlights how beers help you put on weight.
5. More hydrated
There are many parts of your body that alcohol disrupts this includes your kidney’s ability to produce a hormone that helps them reabsorb water rather than send it straight to your bladder. This lack of water reabsorption means you’ll end a night of drinking, without also drinking water, feeling dehydrated which explains the headaches that often come with hangovers. Going alcohol-free will mean your body is able to absorb water more and stay hydrated.
6. Better sex life
Research suggests that alcohol can be a bit of a double-edged sword in the bedroom… On the one hand, it can enhance our libido, but at the same time, it reduces our ability to perform.
Alcohol works by inhibiting parts of our central nervous system (CNS). So whilst it may give us that extra confidence boost after a glass or two, it also dulls the sensitivity of our nerve endings, which are important for sexual arousal and orgasm in both sexes.
The benefits of going alcohol-free can therefore boost both activities in the bedroom and your relationship – a win-win all around.
7. Help keep your stomach happy and healthy
As we’ve discussed before alcohol inhibits the processes with multiple parts of your body including your brain and kidneys, so it’s no surprise that it also impacts the processes in your stomach. A lot of people feel bloated, gassy or have stomach issues after drinking alcohol which is your body telling you something isn’t right. Going alcohol-free will not only prevent any of these issues from occurring but will also help your stomach refresh the bacteria that are needed to help it do its job that alcohol may inhibit.
8. Boost your immune system
Binge drinking can reduce infection-fighting white blood cells (known as monocytes) in the hours after drinking – essentially weakening your immune system.
With this in mind, going alcohol-free for a month or more can make sure your immune system is on top form.
9. Increase your mood
That sad, tired and overly emotional state you find yourself in after a few too many? Turns out that mood isn’t uncommon, as alcohol consumption has a significant impact on our mental health. And it isn’t a good one.
Drinking ultimately interferes with the neurotransmitters that are responsible for our mental health. And has even been found to lower the levels of serotonin in our brain that help regulates our mood.
Going alcohol-free can help stabilise your mood, although it might take a few months to feel the full benefit.
10. Improve liver health
Our liver bears the brunt of the work when it comes to breaking down alcohol. So it’s no real surprise that excessive drinking can lead to liver problems.
When going alcohol-free, your liver fat levels will reduce over time. Good liver health also contributes to the quality of our skin.
A one-month liver cleanse can lead to a 15% decrease in the amount of fat in your liver. Just another one of the huge health benefits of going alcohol-free.
Non-health benefit of going alcohol-free: You’ll save money!
All of these health benefits are great but there is a non-health benefit that you should definitely consider if you’re thinking about going alcohol-free…you’ll save money.
Think about it, alcoholic drinks are always more expensive than non-alcoholic drinks, especially when you are out at a pub or dinner at a restaurant.
Also, you’re more likely to spend more when you go out if you’ve been drinking because alcohol inhibits your cognitive function and lowers your inhibitions meaning you’ll make decisions you wouldn’t make when 100% sober.
5 tips to help you go alcohol-free
Going alcohol-free often isn’t an easy process for most people. As adults, we’re so used to having alcohol as part of our leisure time so when we opt to not drink it can often be hard. Here are a few tips to help you get through going alcohol-free:
1. Make your intentions known
You’re more likely to succeed in your goal of giving up booze, whether temporarily or permanently if you have the full support of your family and friends. Let them know that you’re taking a break from drinking but that doesn’t mean you don’t still want to be included in social events just that you’ll opt for non-alcoholic options. Also, make sure they don’t take advantage of your decision by deciding you’re the new permanent designated driver. You can choose to offer this but if you’re family and friends start to expect it of you because you’ve gone off alcohol you may become resentful of them.
2. Avoid temptation as much as possible
This doesn’t mean avoiding all social events or get-togethers, as we pointed out in the first tip you can enjoy these events as long as your friends and family are aware of your goal. But the less you have the temptation to drink, especially when at first the more successful you’ll be. Avoiding temptation could just mean not having alcohol in your house or at least not having your favourite kind.
Maybe your wife likes a glass of wine, but you’re a beer drinker. Get your wife some wine but keep the beer out of the home that way you can maintain your alcohol abstinence and your wife can enjoy her treat.
Another way to avoid temptation is to recognise and understand your triggers when you’re most likely to drink. Once you understand that you can avoid those situations.
3. Do it gradually
Start small and build up to going alcohol-free completely. Cutting it out completely straight away would be a struggle for anyone and can cause some health issues depending on your typical alcohol consumption. This is where cutting it down gradually will help you not only manage any possible impact, not drinking may have on your health but also help you be successful at cutting it out. Start by having an alcohol free day, then move on to multiple days, then a week and so on.
Gradually going alcohol-free will be more manageable no matter how much you usually consume in your day-to-day life and will mean you’re more likely to keep it going as you’ll also be more successful.
4. Reward yourself for any progress
We often talk about rewards for weight loss goals at The Healthy Man and rewards can be useful tools for any goal you’re trying to reach. If you’re gradually working up to going completely alcohol-free then you can maybe set rewards for each milestone, like your first week alcohol-free or first month.
Make sure the rewards you set aren’t something that would dismantle the work you’re doing on your health so things like new clothes or even a nice dinner out with your wife rather than a beer or really unhealthy food rewards.
5. Enjoy the benefits
The health benefits we’ve listed above are just some of the benefits of going alcohol-free, even if it is only for a period. A detox off alcohol can help your body rebuild healthy cells and this will help you improve your overall health. And who knows you may like these benefits so much that you don’t go back to drinking alcohol, or at least not at the same level.
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