Given that boozing has been linked to more than 60 health conditions, including liver disease, high blood pressure, depression and seven types of cancer, it's no surprise that Britons are increasingly putting down their glasses for good. But if you make the decision to give up alcohol what changes can you expect see in your body in the weeks and months to come. We asked Dr Ross Perry, director of cosmedics.co.uk, for her clinical expertise.
Alcohol affects your levels of neurotransmitters such as GABA, which is what causes the morning-after fear. Going teetotal rebalances your mental health, improving your sleep and easing anxiety. "It can take 72 hours to recover, mentally and physically, after a heavy session," says Perry.
Good as New
Your liver may have taken a lot of punishment by now, but don’t despair. "After four weeks sober, liver fat reduces by up to 15%," says Perry. "After a few months, your liver can return to normal." Alcohol also affects your kidneys, causing dehydration. This can be reversed, too. ‘You’ll notice a difference in your energy levels,’ says Perry.
Fuel For Thought
It’s a myth that a heavy night out ‘kills’ your brain cells, but it can impact them in the long term. "Alcohol can interfere with neurogenesis, which is your ability to make new brain cells," explains Perry. "Even moderate drinking can lead to shrinking in the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with memory and reasoning." But brain atrophy starts to reverse after a few dry weeks.
Rule of Six
Reducing your intake by six pints per week will spare you roughly 1,400kcal – equivalent to the calories in a large pizza. This will likely cause a change in your eating habits, too. "After drinking, the hormone that makes you feel hungry often leads to bingeing," says Perry. As the bloat is banished, you can expect a flatter stomach in a week and may even drop a belt size in a month.
Perform at Your Peak
"When you exercise, you need to be well hydrated to maintain blood flow – essential for carrying oxygen and nutrients to your muscles," says Perry. Not only will booze leave you dehydrated, your liver will be too busy battling toxins to clear the build-up of lactic acid, increasing the likelihood of cramps. Ditch the pints and your strength and endurance will soon be refilled.
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