Alcohol has been linked to many serious diseases and so reducing our intake is always a sensible option. But what happens to our bodies when we stop drinking?
Alcohol can be a great way to help us relax and feel good but it has also been linked to many health problems. In fact depending on the individual there is often a fine line between alcohol having a positive and also negative influence on our lives. Lets start with the guidance on how much we should be drinking.
Units of alcohol was first introduced in 1987 to help people understand just how much alcohol they were consuming. One unit of alcohol is 10ml of pure alcohol which is around the amount of alcohol an adult can process in one hour. It is important to note that the number of units in a drink isn't just its size, its its alcohol strength. So this means that a pint of strong lager contains 3 units whereas a low strength lager will contain 2.
The guidance is that men and women should not drink more than 14 units a week. It is also suggested that you avoid binge drinking, so try and spread your drinking out over 3 or more days. To help put this in context 14 units is equivalent to 6 pints of beer or 10 small glasses of wine. A bottle of wine is about 10 units.
Research has varied over the years on exactly what is a safe level of drinking. In fact at the time of writing it is deemed that there is no safe level. Rather if you drink less than 14 units a week you are at low risk. If however you continue to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week then you risk cancer of the mouth, throat and breast, stroke,heart and liver disease and damage to the nervous system. There are also adverse reactions to your mental health and also to relationships.Alcohol can adversely affect fertility and in terms of sex it is far from being a tonic, in fact alcohol means you enjoy sex less.
Trying to cut down on your alcohol can be tough but will bring huge health benefits. Some ideas on how to cut down include making a plan each week to ensure you don't drink more than 14 units. Setting a budget can also be useful and also get support from friends and family so that they don't encourage you to drink when you are trying to stop.The advice is to try and reduce a little at a time, so try one small glass of wine rather than a large one.Create some alcohol free days each week and also opt for lower alcohol drinks.
You should get immediate health benefits. So for example your blood pressure should come down, you should feel more alert in the mornings. It does all depend however on how heavy a drinker you are. Heavy drinkers may for example experience withdrawal symptoms like headaches and nausea.For this reason it is sometimes better to withdraw from alcohol slowly but always consult a doctor on this process.
If you drink heavily then your mental health can be affected, for example it is linked with depression and forms of psychosis as well as memory loss.If you stop drinking then many of these symptoms can be reduced but again it all depends on what damage you may have already done to your brain cells.
If you cut down on your consumption it isn't just the serious diseases you could avoid. There are other benefits too. These include better skin, alcohol causes skin dehydration, you will lose weight as alcohol has lots of calories in it and finally you will save a fortune, as alcohol is hardly cheap.