Here's What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking Alcohol

Please drink responsibly. If you are concerned about your health, consult a health professional.

If you are one of the few people who successfully completed Dry July, or you've made it even longer without the sneaky mid-week wine that affects your sleep always leaves you feeling a bit dusty in the morning, you'll already know the myriad benefits of going alcohol free. But if you're among the many Australians who consume alcohol on a regular basis, you might never have experienced the overall improvement in your wellbeing that abstaining from drinking can bring.

If you're looking for a simple way to give yourself a health boost, whether temporarily or long-term, consider cutting out alcohol. You are likely to notice positive physical changes that, in turn, can affect your overall wellbeing. Here are seven positive changes that can happen when you stop drinking alcohol.

Your skin feels naturally moisturised

One of the first things you might notice after eliminating alcohol from your diet is how great your skin starts to look. Because alcohol is a diuretic, it causes you to urinate more. At the same time, alcohol also decreases your body's production of an antidiuretic hormone that tells your kidneys how much water to conserve. Together, it's hard to name a more dehydrating duo (I won't wait). Once hydration restores and you're able to reabsorb water again, your skin begins to look dewier and more youthful. 

You start sleeping better  

Sure, it might be easier to fall asleep after a few drinks, but it likely won't be a good sleep – and not just because you still have your shoes on. Research suggests that the same kind of brain activity that occurs when you are awake but resting also occurs when you drink before going to bed. Essentially, this is going to cause you to have a night of disrupted sleep, and it's most likely because your body is working overtime to metabolise the alcohol in its system when it should be clocking off. Once you stop drinking you'll also start waking better, too. Goodbye headaches, dehydration, and the overwhelming desire to devour a bacon & egg roll. Hey Siri, play "A Whole New World" from Aladdin.

You eat less

Speaking of fatty, greasy cravings, alcohol is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to overeating. This is because it reduces impulse control, making it near impossible for you to keep walking past your fridge. Whilst it's been proven that alcohol doesn't actually make you hungrier, it does decrease the production of the hormone leptin, which is usually responsible for making you feel full. On top of all that, it also affects your memory capacity, making it easy for you to forget you already ate. When you eliminate alcohol, you restore your body's ability to ignore unhealthy temptations whilst also recognising when you truly are full and satiated.

Your immune system strengthens

When you drink, alcohol overexerts immune pathways, decreasing the body's ability to defend against illness and disease. It makes white blood cells less effective at fighting off bad bacteria, and even one night of heavy drinking can elevate your chances of getting sick. When you stop drinking, your body's ability to fight off infections is strengthened and restored. 

Your liver functions better

The human body isn't really built to process alcohol, so when you do, your liver goes into overdrive trying to. Seriously, like your liver doesn't already have enough work to do. The more alcohol you put into your body over time, the more tired your liver becomes. When you stop drinking, you give your liver time to start flushing all the bad stuff out of your system, and in a few short weeks, your superstar organ will return to its normal functioning strength.

You have more energy 

People who quit drinking report lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, which leads to having more energy throughout the day. More energy means better concentration and a general feeling of balance, both physically and mentally.

Your mental health improves

Whilst it might not feel like it at the time of consumption, alcohol is a depressant. It can leave us feeling emotionally imbalanced because it upsets our brain chemistry and hinders our ability to think rationally. Once the buzz of a couple of cocktails wears off, alcohol can paint the whole town blue, as lowered serotonin levels invite mood swings, anxiety and feelings of regret. When you quit drinking, you become more self-aware and in control of your mental health and emotions. Sign me up!

If you are concerned about your health, please contact a health professional. If you are in Australia and seeking alcohol-related support or information, here are some resources recommended by the Department of Health. If you or someone you know needs help, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Beyond Blue on 1800512348. In an emergency, call 000.

Want more ways to give your health a boost? We asked our resident dietitians for the lowdown on going vegan.

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