Everything you consume – good or bad – has an effect on the body. Water and healthy fats like avocado are great for your skin while starchy foods like fries *surprise* *surprise*…not so much. When it comes to alcohol, the latter is also true. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many (if any) positive effects alcohol has on the body.
At a time when we’re more sober-curious than ever, consider the below benefits you’ll observe in the body with a little less wine and a little more TLC.
1. Better skin
Alcohol and your skin have a pretty close-knit relationship. Speaking to Insider, Dr. Tess Mauricio said dehydration is one of the biggest impacts alcohol has on the skin and as a result there are numerous flow-on effects – to name a few;
“It dehydrates the skin and will cause your wrinkles and pores to be more visible. Your skin will lose its natural plumpness and healthy glow,” says Mauricio. Drinking takes the fluid out of the skin, leaving it dull, dry and tired.
Inflammation and skin flushing
They say the cheeks are a window into how much you drink and it turns out there’s real merit in it according to New York nutritionist Jairo Rodriguez. “Alcohol inflames the tissue, and systemic inflammation to the skin caused by alcohol creates a histamine reaction—that creates the redness, the flushing of the skin. At first you think, Oh, I’m a little red, not a big deal, but over a period of time—six months, a year, two years—if you continue drinking, it can become a prominent facial redness you can’t get away from,” Rodriguez told Vogue.
Typically, alcohol is high in sugar, especially wine and cocktails. It’s likely you’ll notice a few spots following a big weekend for this reason – sugar is bad news for your complexion.
Alcohol is full of sugar which can induce breakouts or exacerbate acne / @kendalljenner
2. Improved quality sleep
One fact people find surprising about alcohol is that you don’t sleep well after drinking. Despite falling asleep almost instantly once your head hits the pillow, you’re not getting quality sleep. Your body processes alcohol throughout the night. Once the effects wear off, it leaves you tossing and turning. You don’t get that good REM sleep your body needs to feel restored. And, you’re more likely to have nightmares and vivid dreams. You’ll also probably wake up more often for trips to the bathroom!
3. Weight loss
One of the most visibly noticeable effects alcohol has on the body is weight gain. Alcohol is a high calorie beverage and to make matters worse, it’s ‘empty calories’, meaning there is zero nutritional value. One standard drink (100ml of wine, 30ml of spirits or 280ml of standard beer) contains 290kJ, close to half the energy of a can of soft drink. In addition to the sheer calorie content, alcohol interrupts other integral processes in the body, like fat burning. While we can store nutrients, protein, carbohydrates and fat, we can’t store alcohol, so our systems want to get rid of it and this takes priority. All other processes that should be taking place (including absorbing nutrients and burning fat) are ceased. Then, on top of all of this, alcohol is an appetite stimulant so people tend to eat more and gravitate towards the wrong kinds of food (think beige foods – fries, cheese, breads), including the next day when the hangover sets in.
Heavy drinking is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease. Alcohol increases your blood pressure, which in turn increases your risk of heart-related illnesses such as a heart attack or stroke. Surges in your blood pressure can also be caused by weight gain from excessive drinking.
A stronger immune system
Did you know frequent drinkers may be more prone to catching a cold? Alcohol reduces your body’s natural immune response, making it more difficult for it to fight off germs and viruses. Long-term, heavy drinkers are much more likely to get illnesses like pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Bye, bye B.O
Sometimes just a waft of your bedroom after a night out on the town is enough to turn you off the booze. Bad odour is closely linked with alcohol consumption – while the liver processes as much alcohol as it can the rest of it leaves the body via the breath, sweat and urine, which can result in an unpleasant odour…eek.
Improved brain function
We all know a big night out can lead to memory less but make that a habit and it could be long-term. Drinking makes it difficult for your brain to create long-term memories, as well as think clearly and rationally. Over time, frontal lobe damage can occur. This area of the brain is responsible for emotional control, short-term memory and judgement, in addition to other vital roles.
Alcohol can cause long-term negative effects to your brain function, especially memory loss / Unsplash
Positive for mental health
Alcohol effects your body mentally too. While many turn to a glass of beer or wine after a stressful day to relieve tension, it’s not doing your nerves any favours in the long run. More often than not, alcohol creates rather than reduces stress by stimulating stress hormones. Becoming dependent on alcohol in times of stress also means you’re ignoring any underlying causes, which can lead to more serious mental health issues like chronic anxiety or depression.
Stronger bones and muscles
As we age bone health is super important so it’s integral they get the support they need. Heavy drinking can throw off your calcium levels, which we know is essential for bone density. Bones get thinner and more fragile, a condition called osteoporosis. If you’re keen to build muscle mass and tone up, booze could be holding you back from getting the results you want. Alcohol limits blood flow to your muscles and gets in the way of the proteins that build them up.
We’ll let you in on a secret: JLo doesn’t drink alcohol…
If all of the above benefits of cutting back on alcohol aren’t enough to convince you then let this be the clincher: BETTER SEX! While it might help release your inhibitions and boost confidence, generally speaking alcohol is bad for your sex life. Chronic heavy alcohol has been linked to impotence, loss of sex drive and reduced fertility for men, primarily due to alcohol affecting testosterone levels.
Main image: @emrata