We hear so much about the health benefits of alcohol – it is supposedly the miracle drink that can boost heart health, slow down aging, and so much more. Where is the coverage on the health benefits of quitting alcohol? What improvements can we expect when we choose not to imbibe any longer? We bring you the rundown.
Quitting Alcohol and The Brain
If recreational drugs were tools, then alcohol is a sledgehammer.Adam White
Alcohol is a depressant. When you drink, your body releases stimulants to counterbalance the depressive nature of alcohol. If you’re drinking every single day, your body is constantly releasing stimulants, like adrenaline and cortisol, in order to counterbalance the depressant nature of alcohol.
The main goal of the body is to maintain homeostasis, to keep itself in balance. The brain is super smart. It rebalances very quickly. By drinking, you are increasing the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in your body. There are other hormonal ways that alcohol throws the brain and the body out of balance but in our highly stressed society, should we really be increasing our stress by drinking? I did so much drinking to relieve my stress and it turns out I was only adding to it.
Alcohol and Sleep
Alcohol affects your ability for REM sleep, rapid eye movement sleep. REM sleep is vital. It is the restorative phase of sleep. When they deprived rats of REM sleep, they would go psychotic. I used to, again, ironically drink to fall asleep. I felt like I needed that nightcap to fall asleep, yet I would always be awake at three in the morning due to the release of adrenaline. (Hi brain! It IS ALL connected!) Alcohol really messes with your sleep. Long-term sleep deprivation has been linked with hypertension, heart attacks and strokes, obesity, diabetes, depression and anxiety, decreased brain function, memory loss, weakened immune system, lower fertility rates, and psychiatric disorders.
Heart Benefits of Quitting Alcohol
One of the reasons many state they drink is for heart health. We’ve all heard that drinking red wine is great for the heart! Or is it? The American Heart Association states that “no research has established a cause-and-effect link between drinking alcohol and better heart health,” and that people who drink red wine may have lower rates of heart disease for other reasons, such as healthier lifestyles, better diets, or higher socioeconomic status.
In fact, alcohol may not really be all that great for your heart. Over time it has been shown to weaken the heart muscle. Alcohol actually stretches and droops your heart muscles. Making them less taught makes it harder for your heart to pump blood. When caught early, alcohol-induced myopathy is reversible. After just six months, individuals abstaining from alcohol can show noticeable improvement in the function of the left ventricle of their heart, and after 18 months, they may experience a complete recovery.
The Big C
Alcohol is the cause of 60 plus diseases within the body. What many do not realize is alcohol causes cancer. Just two drinks a week can increase a woman’s chance of breast cancer by 15 percent. Your cancer risk immediately goes down when you stop drinking. Anything reduction in drinking, even if you’re not quitting alcohol, means you’re reducing your cancer risk.
No Bones About It
From a skeletal perspective, alcohol reduces your body’s ability to absorb minerals. Actually, it leaches minerals from your body. Alcohol disrupts vitamin D levels in the body along with the ability to help the body absorb calcium, impacting your body’s ability to build strong bones and lowering the overall bone density. So your bones become much more susceptible to breaking. Tie that into the fact that your motor coordination is affected and you can fall more often, leading to an increase in injuries.
Discover More of The Hidden Health Benefits of Quitting Alcohol
Ready to Feel the Benefits?
Don’t just read about the health benefits of quitting alcohol – experience them for yourself. Join us in The Alcohol Experiment for a 30-day break from alcohol. It is a chance to reset your brain and your body when it comes to alcohol and you. Over 240,000 people have already joined!